2016-06-24 / Letters

Signs are OK, the burden has become too great

To the editor:

Regarding the cleverly crafted letter from Will Fritzmeier concerning “tasteful” advertising around the athletic field and gymnasium: Holy George Orwell, Methinks he doth protesteth too much (I know, it is a misquote, but is sounds cool and strikes me as applicable).

I understand and appreciate Mr. Fritzmeier’s and other contributors’ concerns. They raise valid points. But I have attempted to impress upon my three children that quite often the world is not so black and white, but quite often rather gray. I believe this is one of those situations. Our third and final South Portland High School student is a rising senior. I started in tee-ball 20 years ago this spring; been doing high school boosters since 2007. This is my gray perspective. I am not a South Portland graduate (my father is, class of 1948). I graduated high school in 1977. Times have changed drastically. My parents were required to do very little in terms of fundraising for me, my brother and sister. That’s no longer the case. Boosters are essentially fundraisers. I’ve done it all (and have one year left): organized golf tourneys, washed cars, raked leaves, gathered bottles, purchased seldom used discount cards, supervised kids involved in all of the above, etc. Simply put, in this day, with the squeeze on school budgets, parents are required to contribute a whole lot more, and I don’t think the situation is going to change. It is the same for music, robotics and the rest of the extra curricular activities – a fact of life. The signs are the issue that cause concern. But should they? For decades we have sold sports programs filled with local, and I stress local, business sponsorships. We have regularly raised funds from local business sponsors, just not as obviously. Does this distinction really matter? I don’t believe so. Scarborough High School, for instance, repeatedly announces their business sponsors during their games. No overt signs, and it is sort of annoying, but the same fundraising underpinning. The point is that the money must be raised one way or another.

I have faith that Athletic Director Todd Livingston and the school administration can organize these signs in a tasteful manner. If this relieves the burden on parents and students from additional fundraising, then hallelujah. I am confident of this: In this age of fractured politics, if you surveyed students and asked them if they would rather wash more cars, pick up more bottles and rake more leaves in their spare time, or look at some signs at the field or in the gym, the vote would be as close to unanimous as we could get. I believe booster parents would agree.

Bud Ellis South Portland

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