Youth Sports Team and Crowdfunding: A Rising Trend

By Alex Perdikis

Schools and sports teams have a long-standing tradition in America. True stories of small-town teams taking on high-powered athletes from the big city and winning against all odds is the stuff of feel-good films like “Hoosiers.” Because of budget cuts, school sports departments have suffered significantly. Funds to train, pay for equipment and travel expenses are extremely limited and gone completely in some locations. More and more, middle and high school sports teams are turning away from the traditional forms of fundraising and moving to crowdfunding for money. If your youth sports team is dealing with a lack of money for essentials, you may be asking if crowdfunding is the answer. Here’s the scoop.

What is It?

Crowdfunding in some form has been around for some time. Selling raffle tickets for a cause is one example of crowdfunding. In its simplest form, crowdfunding is when members of the general public donate a little money that adds up to a substantial amount when enough people contribute. Crowdfunding now is facilitated through the Internet, where people can use different sites for a wide variety of causes, including everything from business startups to helping cancer victims pay for their treatments.

Why Now?

Sports these days can be expensive. Travel alone costs thousands of dollars. Most sports teams still fundraise through traditional methods. But bake sales, raffles, car washes and selling candy bars only go so far in this time of rising costs. Crowdfunding is a means of raising more money faster. Crowdfunding also gives fundraising events a worldwide reach with a much larger group of potential donors.

For example, Cher Fuller, Oregon Dream Teams head coach in Beaverton, used GoFundMe to raise enough for her elite coed cheerleading squad to pay for travel to the World Championships in Florida. The cost of the trip was $1,200 per athlete and an additional $4,000 for practices and competition events. Her campaign raised enough to pay for the entry fees and the rest was split among team members. Done right, crowdfunding can help take the bite out of the budget cuts most school sports teams now face.

Tips for Crowdfunding Success

The trick to raising funds through crowdfunding is to have a specific goal in mind. Successful crowdfunding campaigns cover a certain time period with a specific monetary goal. A goal of “helping the Buffaloes” won’t interest most people, but a goal of “Help the Buffaloes pay for their championship trip” will.

Social media is prime territory to advertise your fundraising event. Friends, relatives and acquaintances from around the world can easily donate to your cause.

It’s not just sports teams that are turning to crowdfunding. Fees and expenses for sports team members have skyrocketed and many families turn to crowdfunding to offset the individual costs as well.

For Parents: A Practical Guide From Soccer Manager Alex Perdikis

As a parent, team manager and former student athlete himself, Alex Perdikis knows about the benefits of kid team sports. He also realizes that parents have the power to make team sports a fun and healthy activity or create a living nightmare where children drop out. Here is a practical guide for parents that outline best practices that build interest, encourage and support children who play team sports.

Pushing: Yes or No?

It’s not a problem if your child shows an interest in and has an aptitude for a team sport. No need to push. But, what if your child shows no interest? You know the benefits. Sports builds confidence, teaches people skills, develops problem-solving skills and promotes an active and healthy lifestyle. Children who participate in team sports are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or become obese. They also tend to get better grades. With all of those advantages, why shouldn’t you push?

A little encouragement may not be a bad thing. Far from a “push,” encouragement includes different techniques to draw your child out and perhaps open the door to interest. Here are some ways to open your child up to the possibility of playing a team sport:

  • Go to games and practices as observers: Children are frightened of the unknown. Getting them comfortable with the game atmosphere, team play and environment removes the fear of the unknown.
  • Play in your own backyard: No pressure, play for fun backyard games can reveal hidden talent and set the stage for more organized competitions in the future. Whether it’s baseball, soccer, basketball or football, kid team sports should be first and foremost fun.
  • Talk about it: It may not be a total lack of interest that stops your child from playing a team sport. They may simply be unsure. A few words and strategic questions can steer children the right way. For example, ask if any of your child’s friends play on a team. If so, would your child like to try, too? If you think your child might benefit from a specific sport, ask how the child feels about it. Discuss what your child likes and dislikes about the sport. Be positive and keep the focus on them, not about how proud you would be.

They’re In! Now What?

A recent study done by George Washington University associate professor Amanda Visek found a dramatic drop in the rates of children participating in team sports. Another study found that 70 percent who do play drop out by the age of 13. The top reason? Playing was no longer fun, and it was because of their parents. Parents couldn’t stop coaching, took over the experience and lived and died with the team’s wins and losses. It’s the duty of parents to encourage, support and keep it fun. Leave coaching to the coaches.