Warning: Check out fundraisers | TheUnion.com

Warning: Check out fundraisers

Time and time again I’ve pointed out how special this community makes playing high school sports for our western Nevada County athletes. The support they receive is overwhelming and heartwarming.

Not only are the athletes receiving emotional support, but they also rely on financial backing from the community as well – something local businesses have really embraced.

But while local sports enthusiasts are eager to donate money to the Bruin and Miner causes, first a bit of warning. I talked at length last week with Nevada Union Athletic Director Steve Pilcher about recent issues with misleading fundraising becoming a more prevalent problem.

While many of us are all too aware of the major credit card and online scams, don’t be so quick to hand over $50 to someone with a team hat or T-shirt on before really checking out the situation.

“We’re wearing our welcome thin in the community – how many times can we keep knocking on the same door,” said Pilcher who worries that his teams are already stretching a small market thin without the added pressure of fundraising that misleads.

“We don’t want to see our community get ripped off and have a bad taste in their mouth about our teams,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest example Pilcher sees is people selling posters or calendars or magnets for any given team’s season. They then sell advertising space around the edge, giving little, if any, back to the school.

Just a warning to Bruin supporters – this type of ploy should not be an issue with your teams. Bear River athletic director Jack McCrory told me that his school does not participate in any calendar or poster fundraisers by third parties.

“Our coaches want to be left to get their own sponsors,” McCrory said. “It steals their potential advertisers and we’re already scratching to get sponsors anyway because of where we live in-between two towns. It can be a struggle for us to find advertisers.”

Another scam is a basic door-to-door sell with someone misrepresenting a member of a team and selling a bogus product.

Pilcher’s advice to combat misleading fundraising is to make sure any fundraiser you become involved with has a description of the plan or event with official school letterhead and contact information for the coaches and the school. Call those contacts to make sure the fundraisers are indeed legit.

Running high school athletic teams is not an easy business financially. It’s not simply a matter of rolling out the balls and dusting off the uniforms. Coaches must budget money for travel, tournaments, facilities along with jersey replacement and equipment repairs.

For instance, the price of running one high school football game at Nevada Union is more than $3,000. Games are, in fact, so costly that while hosting home playoff contests are the goal, doing so can sometimes put a school into the red for the event or allow the school to barely break even.

The need for financial help is indeed real for these teams.

Athletes in this area are extremely important to many of you, but people plotting ways to make a quick buck are aware of that as well. Playing on an emotional connection to the high school teams is easy way to pull a fast one.

But don’t tighten those purse strings or become hesitant to continue supporting your teams – just make sure you know where your support is really going.

Sportswriter Stacy Hicklin’s column appears Wednesdays. To contact her e-mail stacyh@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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