Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

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Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by C-Fan » 04 Feb 2015 08:55

In the past two years, I've seen a few footbaggers (Evan, Landes, Penske) use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Tilt to raise money to attend tournaments. What are your thoughts on this strategy?

For me personally, if there is a footbagger who can't afford to attend a tournament, I would consider donating money to help them get to it. But there are a lot of factors I'd take into consideration, including:

:arrow: Does the footbagger have a shot at winning?
:arrow: Does the footbagger have a job/income stream?
:arrow: Are they old enough that they can save money on their own?
:arrow: Are they making any sacrifices to attend the tournament?
:arrow: Are they actively training for the tournament, so they're working towards a goal (i.e. not just showing up and hoping for the best).

Thinking back to Worlds 2002, Vasek was 16 years old, didn't have a job, and couldn't afford to attend Worlds 2002 on his own. But he was also actively training, and had a real shot at winning. Steve Goldberg sponsored his attendance, and I thought that was the right move. If there were a kickstarter back then, I would have contributed given Vasek's talent and lack of economic resources. That's probably the best example of crowdfunding campaign I'd support.

Now take a player like me. I'm 34, I have a job, and I'm not saving money for Worlds by sacrificing going to Vegas Jam/USO. Would you contribute to a kickstarter to pay for my tickets to Worlds? I'm guessing not, though that may also be because you don't think I have a shot at winning. What about a player like Penske, who does have a legit shot at winning, but is otherwise similar to me (30 years old, has a job, is attending VJ before worlds, etc.)?

What factors do you weigh when deciding whether to crowdfund a player?

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Asmus » 04 Feb 2015 13:39

I think this is a dangerous subject and some people could feel their toes got stepped on but I am still gonna chime in. Please note that I am writing this from a personal opinion and not as an organizer of Worlds.

I agree a lot with your observations but I do think there is other things to consider.

Footbag doesn't have a lot of money in it. Could you possibly help footbag, or more specific a tournament, better by spending your money on something else than paying for somebody to attend? Probably.

I am not gonna judge someones life choices and I don't think career and money is something to judge a person on, but most footbag players are middle class in a western country and could afford Worlds if they prioritized it early. Maybe not every year but probably every two years.

Another thing is - should footbaggers take money out of the pocket of other footbaggers? Have they tried to get sponsors? Applied for funds? etc.

More questions than answers from me here. Looking forward to see where this discussion goes.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Allan » 04 Feb 2015 18:56

C-Fan wrote:In the past two years, I've seen a few footbaggers (Evan, Landes, Penske) use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Tilt to raise money to attend tournaments. What are your thoughts on this strategy?
I support crowdfunding. I'd like to see more of it. I think it's a great way for the community to show support for it's most important athletes. And while footbag needs money in other areas, I see exactly this sort of thing as a priority. We won't have tournaments to run without our best athletes being able to show up and shred.

C-Fan wrote:Does the footbagger have a shot at winning?
I'd say if they have a shot at getting to finals they should be funded. But I'd even make exceptions for someone who had something unique going on.
C-Fan wrote:Does the footbagger have a job/income stream?
I understand where you're coming from here, kind of. It also seems kind of harsh. There are many reasons why someone might not have a job and not all of them involve having to justify anything to anyone. Plenty of people work a lot but make very little money. Having a job and having a good job that allows you to save are two different things entirely. If you're badass but broke, I don't think it's entirely fair to assume that you'll spend every dime of your meagre savings getting to tournaments.
C-Fan wrote:Are they old enough that they can save money on their own?
Again, people's economic situations are diverse. Of course we want to help those less fortunate, but being less fortunate shouldn't necessarily preclude you from getting funding. It shouldn't cost you guys anything to get to worlds. You shouldn't have to contemplate whether you can afford it at all.

I think we'll figure out really quickly who's taking advantage and who's genuine and I think the current examples and every campaign I've seen to date have been nothing but genuine and deserved.
C-Fan wrote:Are they making any sacrifices to attend the tournament?
Of course they are! They're sacrificing their time and talents to come and compete.

Particularly if they work a shitty job, they're taking vacation days and spending money that would otherwise better be saved for emergencies. Most jobs don't come with any sort of security, let alone benefits like paid vacations.

As well, in order to be good enough to make a video and say "hey please fund me. I'm badass and I can win!" you've got to have already sacrificed your time and energy getting that good. That alone deserves reward. If you've not put the time in, your video will suck and nobody will donate.
C-Fan wrote:Are they actively training for the tournament, so they're working towards a goal (i.e. not just showing up and hoping for the best).
Won't this be immediately obvious? Again, I've not seen any examples so far of someone trying to take advantage, and even if someone did, the community isn't likely to be burned more than once by them.
C-Fan wrote:That's probably the best example of crowdfunding campaign I'd support.
That's an excellent example of someone who should be supported. Personally, I've not seen any other campaign that I wouldn't support. And that's really the thing, isn't it? It's kind of a personal thing to make a decision to fund one of these campaigns. So, if you don't think a persons' campaign is valid, you choose to not give them money. I might feel differently and am happy to donate $50. We're both free to do what we like. Do we need to judge the person asking in public? The numbers speak for themselves; if they reach the specified goal, they're good.
C-Fan wrote:Now take a player like me. I'm 34, I have a job, and I'm not saving money for Worlds by sacrificing going to Vegas Jam/USO. Would you contribute to a kickstarter to pay for my tickets to Worlds?


You bet! Dude. Ken. You're awesome at footbag. You could win. You've made finals. How do you not qualify as someone who shouldn't have to spend anything to get to Worlds? You might be able to "afford" it, but why should you have to? You've more than earned a free trip to World's.
C-Fan wrote:What about a player like Penske, who does have a legit shot at winning, but is otherwise similar to me (30 years old, has a job, is attending VJ before worlds, etc.)?
I think that it's points in their favour if they're attending other events. That they are willing to spend their own money (or even someone else's) getting to some (perhaps for them more realistically priced) tournaments only increases the incentive to help make sure they make it to more, especially Worlds. If Worlds is the only tournament they're attending, they're not actually not contributing as much to the community as someone who is going to multiple events. It shows commitment and goes to prove that this person is training and wants to have the experiences that will help them win on the larger stage.

I don't know much about Jim's situation (or Nick's), but I'm pretty sure he's not rich and I also know that he's super-duper badass at footbag, and I'd pay to watch him just play on the sidelines at worlds. Fuck the competition ;)
C-Fan wrote:What factors do you weigh when deciding whether to crowdfund a player?
Are they badass? Fund 'em.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by bobgreen » 04 Feb 2015 20:02

Spent some time typing this up in a word processor, and came here to copy it in and just read Allan's reply. Seems my thoughts are in a different wrapper but mostly similar to his. I have one perspective on group fundraisers vs individual fundraisers that has not yet been addressed, so feel free to skip to the last paragraph if you don't want to read more of the same.

I have no issues with fundraisers in general or web based crowdfunding platforms. People have a choice to contribute and can ultimately make their own decision regarding the merit of contributing based on the points you guys raise or any other set of factors they are interested in.

Regarding how I would approach a personal decision whether to fund a footbagger to worlds, of the factors you mentioned the ones most important to me would be:
  • 1. shot at winning
  • 2. are they making sacrifices to attend the tournament (training inclusive).


If I didn’t think the player had a shot at winning, I wouldn’t think it ‘necessary’ that they be at worlds. Resources are limited, and I could better spend my money on some other charitable contribution than send someone to worlds who doesn’t have a shot.

I think you were probably thinking of financial sacrifices when you asked about the importance of sacrifice (being frugal, and hustling extra income where possible). If I knew someone was making such sacrifices it might weigh into my decision, but that wouldn't preclude me from funding someone for not living off of Ramen noodles. To me the training necessary to have a shot at winning is a pretty big sacrifice on its own (big amount of time/energy away from other life priorities).

In the context of the current fundraiser, I very much like/support the notion of trying to make sure that the best players from each country get to attend. When I was at Worlds 99, I thought it was so cool when the Finns rocked up all wearing matched uniforms and looking like an official team. I have no idea whether they had funding or if they got that with their own resources, but I do like the notion of a US footbag team that people could qualify for.

I applaud that someone took the initiative to try and get some of the top US players to worlds.

Here comes the but…

For group/team fundraisers, I think the decision of how players are nominated should be really transparent and as objective as possible. Given my personal selection criteria above, I admit there are also additional players in the US that I’d rate highly as considering sending to worlds (you are in that group Ken). It is unclear to me what ‘down select’ procedure was used to whittle down to just two players. If the process by which the group members of the fundraiser are selected is not transparent, it would be my preference in the future to have separate fundraisers for individual players.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by C-Fan » 05 Feb 2015 08:07

Asmus wrote: More questions than answers from me here. Looking forward to see where this discussion goes.
This sums up very well why I made the thread. Frankly, I haven't come to any conclusions myself, but found myself thinking a lot about it. So I figured it might be of interest to others as well, and I wanted to hear other people's thoughts.

Asmus, Allan, and Bob all brought up a lot of good points. In some cases they put some of my still-forming thoughts into clear words, and in other cases they raised questions I hadn't even thought about.

I get the impression that we are all in agreement that the best players should be at Worlds, and have a chance at competing for the championship without economic factors preventing them from attending. So the question really becomes: what's the best way to do this? What's the fairest?

I thought Asmus raised a very interesting point about who should pay to get athletes to Worlds. Are we defaulting to crowdfunding (i.e. asking our peers for money) without first seeking out deeper pockets (i.e. sponsors)? Players like Taishi and Jindra have shown that sponsor money is out there. Are we resorting to crowdfunding without first exploring these options fully?

Allan brought up the point that not all jobs are equal. That's a good point, and I probably should have put some qualifiers on my original post. I know that when Evan crowdsourced his Europe trip last year, he was working at In N Out, which was a job but not one where you could save much money. Allan also raised the point that we should be looking to fund badass players with a chance of winning, which brings me to my next question for discussion:

:arrow: If we want the best players to attend, and we want to reward results, would our money be better spent creating a big prize pot for the winners?

Basically I'm asking whether it might be more fair and motivating to have a big prize pot that everybody has a chance to win, rather than paying for somebody's ticket up front. Say you have two players who can't afford to go to Worlds, Player A and Player B. If Player A gets crowdfunded and Player B does not, Player A has a chance to win while B does not. But in this scenario, Player A may not even win. Now if there were a prize pot that would pay for the winner's ticket, then Player A and B would be equally motivated to train, compete, and win. Of course the drawback to this plan, is it forces players to pay for their tickets up front, and basically bet on themselves to win back their airfare. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

I also agree with Bob's point that any process should be transparent. When I first saw that a fundraiser was happening to get Landes and Penske to Worlds, my immediate reaction was: why not Evan? I mean, he finished 2nd last year in Routines and 1st in Circle. If our criteria for fundraising is potential for winning and inability to pay for a ticket, wouldn't it make the most sense to raise funds for Evan again?

Good thoughts for everybody so far. I look forward to seeing more.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Outsider » 05 Feb 2015 11:31

Interesting topic. Thanks Ken for bringing this up.

I haven't really taken too much time to consider all of this yet. I surely will be giving it some more thought.

One part of the issue that leapt quickly into my mind, though, was informed by another example that is worth considering --- Todexon. The event organizers of Todexon had, for a few years in a row, sponsored one player from over-seas to come to their event. I don't know much of the details, but I presume that the money for that sponsorship was primarily either from a fraction of the money they expected to collect from all the tournament entry fees, or from the pockets of the event organizers themselves, or from sponsor-money the event organizers were able to obtain for the event-running expenses in general.

I don't really know much about that process in any way, but I always assumed that the Todexon sponsorship in particular was not necessarily based on sponsoring the shredder who had the best chance of winning, but rather, sponsoring one shredder who's game they admired and who they otherwise might not have much opportunity to play with.

I can see several ways in which that Todexon circumstance is an imperfect parallel to this current circumstance, but it still seems worth bringing up.

When I consider the Todexon example, it reminds me of one other factor that I might consider when I consider WHO should be sponsored to attend Worlds -- I think it has already been mentioned, but not necessarily in THIS Modified thread, and not to put too fine a distinction on it, the question could be phrased as "WHO'S TURN IS IT?" --- I don't remember everybody who was invited to Todexon, but my memory suggests that it was NOT the same person year-after-year. In other words, if there are several otherwise "worthy" shredders, you might say that having been sponsored previously could count AGAINST that shredder this year.

In any case, I would never ever sponsor Ken Somolinos to go to Worlds because Ken is a very nice person!!!
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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Add Block » 05 Feb 2015 13:32

Todexon has never had any problems with sponsors, plus a lot of the money come from the organiser's pocket.

Basically, Dexter is a god.

Though this year, Honza is organising Todexon, as Dexter will be away. There will be changes to the way competitions are done, which I'm looking forward to.

Jindra was going to do a fundraiser, but he was too slow I guess. I thought I was going because Denmark is close, but then I saw the estimate made by someone and yeah, I'd need at least 3 years to save up for that.
Jindra said he can't afford it this time, he's doing street shows every day to pay for the rent, but he just moved to a new house so he wasn't able to save up. He's training every day as well, both footbag and football freestyle. But again, he was too slow.
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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by C-Fan » 05 Feb 2015 14:43

Add Block wrote: Jindra said he can't afford it this time,
Wait, what?! Wasn't the crowdfunder for Penske and Landes started by Dexter? Why is a Czech starting a campaign to bring US players to Worlds, when the reigning World Champ (a Czech!) can't afford to go? Does that seem weird to anybody else?
Add Block wrote: But again, he was too slow.
I never thought I'd see somebody call Jindra slow:

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Add Block » 05 Feb 2015 17:37

I'm sure Jindra will find a way to go, it's too important for him to miss it. But if he was faster with the crowdfunding, it wouldn't cripple him financially.

I have no idea who started the crowdfunding, but Jindra is in contact with Dexter regularly, so they probably have a plan of some sort.

It's nice to see people sending a player to a tournament. Chances are, if you donate, that player will probably shred with you at the event if you ask him to. That makes the main requirement 'Who do I want to shred with the most?' and not 'Who is the best player'. A lot of people have their personal hero who they want to shred with at least once in their life, so you can decide that way.


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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Asmus » 06 Feb 2015 03:31

I feel like I might have to say this again: I am writing this as myself not as an organizer of Worlds.
The event organizers of Todexon had, for a few years in a row, sponsored one player from over-seas to come to their event.
Pretty much every year we have paid the trip for a player or two to come to Danish Champs. At DFO2013 we paid part of the trip for a number of players. The criteria has always been "Who do we want to be at this tournament?". This has mainly meant a great player that we hadn't played with before, but social(party) skills has also been taken into consideration.

Generally we don't take registration money for Danish Champs and the years we have done it, it has been a symbolic amount. The trips are almost exclusively been funded by Footbag Denmark. How does Footbag Denmark have money to pay for that you ask? Every time we do a demonstration, a workshop or similar the funds go to the club. This has a number of advantages compared to paying the players. We also pay a member fee every year. I think it's around 30 euros.

About footbag tournaments, sponsors and flying players out: If and when you get a footbag tournament sponsored, you don't just get an amount money you can spend how you want. You need to give the sponsors detailed budgets on how much you plan to spend and on what. Sponsors generally like paying for World Class players to get to the tournaments they sponsor.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by F[uns]tylin' Eclectic » 19 Feb 2015 06:55

So I'd like to chime in here... Rick Reese just recently wanted to include me in the Nick and Jim cried funding.. I turned it down because, compared to them, i'm not that good. I would feel bad accepting money from people too, knowing that that money could have gone to helping the tournament as a whole .. I feel kind of dumb for turning it down... Am I stupid for rejecting Rick's offer?
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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Cass » 19 Feb 2015 07:16

I'm not sure this was a serious offer considering that Rick is not even the one organizing the tilt campaign. The community can only really afford to put so much money down to send players to events. To add an additional player now would be unwarranted since the campaign may not raise enough money for all three players (even two looks like it'll be tight). Furthermore it would be unfair to include someone in the funding that the original backers did not intend to support.

I think crowdfunding to get top tier players out to events is good for the sport. It is something that I support, however I would prefer it be individual rather than being required to support several players simultaneously.

Main factors I consider when choosing to donate include skill level and dedication to the sport, how fun they are to shred, hang, and party with, as well as financial restrictions. I don't really care whether they win to be honest; they just have to be a good energy to have at an event.

Personally, [even if I was elite level] I would feel weird pursuing crowdfunding to get to an event if I knew I could raise the money myself somehow.

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by F[uns]tylin' Eclectic » 19 Feb 2015 07:57

I'd personally rather see that money go toward a new God damn line of shred shoes for everyone.. Greatest good for the most people...
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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by Cass » 19 Feb 2015 08:50

This has nothing to do with shoes. Obviously there is money out there for a shred shoe kickstarter. I would certainly put more money down (by a factor of 10) for that than I have to send players to worlds.

What we are lacking is someone willing and able to pioneer that project. I'm sure a shoe kickstarter would be successful but what is the point if nobody knows how to go about making the right shoe..

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Re: Opinions on Crowdfunding Footbaggers to Tournaments

Post by boyle » 22 Feb 2015 22:49

The whole idea of sports (particularly smaller sports) and crowdfunding is something I have been looking into a great deal in the past year or two. Footbag is a reasonable sport for crowdfunding...it doesn't have the same kind of attached on supporters as something like roller derby, which has had quite a few successful crowfunding campaigns.

The crowdfunding idea gives some democracy to who would be funded by "the crowd". I have thought of setting up a sort of footbag fund in the future, where if you want to donate to the sport, you can, and you can also set up a monthly donation, then whoever needs funding can apply to "the fund", which is then approved by those who have given. That topic is for another day.

On the topic

- Is crowdfunding good for footbag?

I think yes, I think any cent that comes in for footbag, and also any little piece of awareness that may possibly come through the campaigns, is good.

- Is it a cop out instead of seeking sponsors

Sponsorship of grassroots level sport has been going down in a pretty heavy way in the last years (since the GFC). However, I think many footbag players don't even try to get sponsors or grants.

- Should you crowdfund if you're working/old enough to save/etc

This one is a difficult one, as has been mentioned, even if you're working, there might not be much money remaining at the end of the day. What I would rather see crowfunding for is for people from poorer countries making it to Worlds. For sure I would chip in for some the Colombian crew for example, or some of the guys from China.

- What is the benefit of supporting?

There isn't really any, aside from a feel good factor if they win. With platforms like Tilt, there is no rewards, as opposed to Kickstarter. At least that means the money is just going to whatever they are doing.

Who should be giving the money?

A notable part of Evan's campaign last year was that most of the bigger donations was from non-footbag players. He did a lot of individual contacting of anyone he vaguely knew . His situation is different to Nick and Jim - he was already in Europe before the crowdfunding campaign began. I am not so sure the current campaign will "tilt".

There is still about 1 month remaining and around $1,000 still to go. Some of what I've read has said that a successful campaign should get around 30% of the contribution with the first few days, to get a real hype to it. Let's see how it goes though, but I'm sure Nick and Jim will be having to try and get some more support from their own networks if they wish to get it over the line.

On a failed crowdfunding project - "Mr Hacky Sack", John Stalberger, did his book project. The key problem was that he was asking for way too much money (I think it was $20,000), for a project that didn't have any "runs on the board", for his book about the sport. There was no manuscript (no nothing in reality), it still had approx $6,000 pledged to it. Which probably says something about the threshold of how much footbag players would give.

I think there is certainly going to be a fatigue on crowdfunding players, unless more interesting elements are added to it. I think people will feel a pressure to donate, to "support the community etc", but the reality is it's up to each individual.

I have written a lot, but like everyone else, I think we just need to wait and see over the next couple of years. If you're looking for some bigger funding, just pitch the idea "sports crowdfunding platform" to any accelerator program through the world. Making it a reality is much harder though...

I agree on the shoes, no point putting together a crowdfunding for a non-existent prototype. I also think the reality is that there is a very poor business case for making a footbag shoe, with such a small global population.

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