Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kid Sports starting to ramp up (About that Candy Tax)

I can feel it coming. Practice schedules, transportation arrangments, increasingly good weather, chatty parents you don't know --and some you do, getting pestered for new equipment... there is a general restlessness is in the air. All signs are go. The countdown to summer sports has started. Oh, and the candy companies are salivating over the "fund raiser" potential these leagues present each and every year. I'll bet the sales are roughly equal to a holiday one. More on that later, lets get back to that warm fuzzy sports feeling for a moment or two longer.

For me the big indicator is the end of dance team. My oldest daughter is a member of the Parkrose Elite. This particular high school sport is a lot of fun for parents because we get to be part of the whole thing. It's a bit expensive in terms of both time and money, but highly recommended if your child is into dance. As a father, I didn't think I could relate to this sport, but it's surprisingly interesting and very good for the kids. Girls outnumber boys about 50 to 1, but all are welcome. I think I'll write a bit more about this in the near future.

With the end of the AAA State Dance Final Competition, managed by OSAA (The Elite scored 2nd place!) comes the beginning of soccer and baseball. There are plenty of other sports too, but those are what drive my family at present. The two middle kids really enjoy both of these sports. It looks like we are going to have a mostly hot and dry summer baseball season and that's just great.

This will be the first year that I am not coaching or just helping with a team. It's kind of wierd to just watch after being so involved, but I might actually get to enjoy watching my kids play this year. Given the hectic schedule I have had lately, I'm more than happy to grab my munchies and a cold pop and just kick back for a nice game. I love watching baseball live. I love it more when the kids are older, but not yet high-school. You get a great game of baseball, but still get to see all the funny kid stuff that happens. --Just watch out for the alpha parents. (Having been one of these, I'm sorry. I know better now.)

This just would not be OpenGeek without a short rant or two, so here goes:

This time it's about the candy tax, err... fundraiser! Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with these clubs and teams working to get the money needed for the season. Car washes, yard work, community dinners and such are all great for both the team and the community it plays in.

But, I just don't like paying the Candy Tax.

The candy tax? Oh yeah, you know the drill. Sign up, write your check and get handed this box of candy to sell. The whole thing has gotten pretty bad with some teams just padding the cost of the candy into their signup fee leaving you to just deal with the candy. Of course every year, I skip the candy and just pay the team whatever they would have made off the candy sale, plus a little bit for not having to actually deal with the box. It's often a hassle as the candy and packaged meat people will make the teams sign contracts that go as far as they can to force the candy on every family participating.

This all used to be a volunteer deal. Either you wanted the candy or not. Now it's pay for the candy up front as part of your team signup and sell it to get your money back for the team.

Oh, and if you actually make any profit on your particular box of candy, you can give that back to the team too. Right. Folks, that is a candy tax plain and simple. The candy and packaged meat companies have made handling their products a part of the club signup process. Think about it a little. I'm sure you will agree that just is not ok.

Who is the soulless sales rep that thought that one up? I have to give credit where credit is due. The first time I experienced this, I just knew things on the candy tax front were going to go from poor to bad right quick. Of course it did. That little trick has caught on like wildfire with more and more teams every year. Whoever you are, you mostly suck ok?

Ok, enough of that thearpy, back to the candy tax. Some people like to sell the candy. I don't have a problem with that really. It's an option that should be there for those that need it or want to do it.

Let's be honest,

with the entire community basically trying to sell candy to each other, who exactly is going to buy it?

And that's my rub. Rather than force this on everyone, making it harder for those who want to participate in the program, why not present the candy fundraiser program an option to everyone instead? Failure to do this really turns the entire thing into a tax that simply makes the sports more expensive for everyone.

Other minor issues are the price of the candy. Selling the candy is tough because you really can't discount it much below the retail price. Isn't the point of a fund raiser to help the kids? How is simply providing everyone with a bunch of candy they can sell at basically the retail price helping the kids? Seems to me it's helping the candy companies more than anyone else and that's just not OK. Krispy Kreme is an example of a company that actually does fund raise. Whatever you think of their product, they do sell it to clubs at a highly discounted price for fundraising activities. That's helping the kids.

Giving people chocolate bars, that can be found at nearly every retail outlet in the country, to be sold at retail price is only fundraising for the shareholders, not the sports clubs.

So every year we go through the same hassle. We don't take the candy, normally upsetting somebody stuck with the job unloading the candy onto all of us. We do pay the amount the club would have made, plus some extra to make up for the hassle. This actually puts them ahead!

I also spend a little time each year letting parents know they don't actually have to deal with the candy tax. When presented with the price, market saturation and contract issues, most parents think a little bit about it, but will let peer pressure get the better of them and they continue to take the box of candy.

You know most of them just suck it up and eat it. How does just eating the candy contribute to sports anyway? Maybe if we were talking granola bars or something it would be different, but this is just candy. Lots of it for no good reason.

So what to do? For starters, just don't take the candy! Be polite about it, and do tell them why. If you are not sure what to say, just send 'em here to OpenGeek and they can read it for themselves. Better yet, print this out and give it to them with your contribution equal or greater than the amount they would have made from a candy box sale. Just to make this a little easier, I'm going to make a PDF flyer you can print and distribute as well. Look for it here on OpenGeek in the next couple of weeks.

Another good activity, in your new found quest to beat the candy tax, is to talk to other parents. Ask them what they think of the candy. Let them know what you read here and see if that matters to them.

Finally, start a real fundraiser! Setup a car wash or two, raffle off your school principle for the day. Anything but the candy tax! Perhaps your business has product that can be donated to the team for sales at the snack shack, or used to help the teams. I hate to say it, but give the Krispy Kreme folks a call. They do great fundraisers. Your local Mc Donalds also has a program where you can work the store for a day and collect a percentage of the days sales. I know the food sucks, but it's no worse than the candy and working the store is entertaining for a day. I've done this and had a lot of fun.

Comments? Suggestions? Successes? Failures? Just want to tell me about a great game or two? You can read about one of mine right here. As usual post 'em here, using the little comment button below this post, or shoot me an e-mail or two!


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