What Does Boosterland Share from Board Meetings?

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Behind the Scenes Over the past several months I have visited dozens of high school booster clubs. Most have strong web presences, and list the dates of their open meetings. Boosterland has also benefited from many phone calls with booster club officers across the country.  Although we started contacting booster clubs that were easy to find online, we welcome invitations from those who are just starting out or don’t have a strong web presence. Just a Fly on the Wall When I visit a meeting, I … [Read more...]

What Happened to Multi-sport Athletes? (Part 2)

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In part one of this post, I questioned the role of specialization in sports. I mentioned that many American parents encourage specialization over well-rounded development in the classroom and on the field. In other parts of the world, it’s not like this. Cedar Attanasio, who helps edit many of the posts on the Boosterland blog, shared this anecdote from his time studying in Hong Kong with Chinese and Cantonese students. “In Cantonese, there’s this term, quan cai, which means ‘well-rounded … [Read more...]

What Happened to Multi-sport Athletes? (Part 1)

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Should students play a single sport, or diversify? In this post I discuss the decline of the multi-sport athlete, and the implications for a 21st century workforce. I use sports as an example--but this post applies to other activities as well: theater, orchestra, debate, etc.  I list a few of the assumptions that fuel the single-sport phenomenon, including some that booster clubs may take for granted. In my next post I’ll talk about multi-sport athletes in the past, and how their 20th century … [Read more...]

11 Life Lessons of Theater

Shakespeare and goth man.

If “All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,” then there’s no better place to prepare for life than in the theater. I made this list of 11 theater lessons as a reminder of how much performance art can help the development of our young people. This post, like my 31 Life Lessons of Sports post, is designed to help booster club leaders articulate the value of extracurriculars. Sometimes we forget why we toil to support programs. Even when we do, it’s hard to articulate … [Read more...]

31 Life Lessons of Sports

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This summer I went to my college reunion and noted that 100% of the classmates I spoke with had participated in one or more extracurricular activities in high school. Every single person I spoke to credited those experiences with playing a role in their success, whether they were a magazine editor, an economist, or a stay-at-home home dad. Most of Boosterland’s readers will have a few reasons why they think extracurriculars are crucial for development. I’d like to compile them here as food for … [Read more...]

Spend It This Year

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What should a booster club do with an unexpected surplus? I attended a booster club meeting this spring where board members discussed this desirable dilemma in the context of their own school’s athletics program.  Some members wanted to save the surplus as a safety. Others wanted to spend the funds on useful items--neither essential nor frivolous--such as tractors to cut grass on athletic fields and netting to protect track athletes from stray lacrosse balls. After listening attentively to … [Read more...]

Does your help hurt?

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Creating Dependency In developing countries, aid programs give things and services. They compensate for the state’s shortcomings in education, food, or shelter. I was reminded of this by a Forbes article which highlighted the failures of an NGO in Eastern Europe. By pursuing the classic charity model--giving locals things they didn’t have--the NGO created dependency on their services (mostly clothing and food programs). They choked development. Recognizing this, the NGO switched gears. Instead … [Read more...]

The Problem with Competition Between Booster Clubs

IdeaThief

In sports, competition brings mixed blessings. In fundraising it can bring disaster. Would another booster club “steal” your fundraiser? I've seen booster clubs encroach on existing fundraisers, and it is ugly. In one Northern California town, High School X produced a successful crab feed fundraiser in March. The next year, the booster club from High School Y did a crab feed in February. X and Y were in the same town, in the same school district. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing … [Read more...]

Is Competition Good?

3 Strikes, You're Out

What’s the point of competition in high school sports? What are the teachable moments, and what are the costs? Subjective as the possible answers may be, I've been thinking about the purpose of competition. My interest was sparked by this funny scene in Billy Crystal’s 2012 comedy hit, Parental Guidance. (Click on the image to launch the video). (In the video, Billy Crystal’s grandson is pitching at a little league game. The grandson strikes out the batter, but he’s not “out.” Upon … [Read more...]