My Pride and Ego, and a Contempt for GoFundMe

Call me old fashioned if you wish, but I’m having a hard time understanding the business of being alive in 2015. Perhaps being born in the 90’s isn’t something I can actually claim as “old school” at this moment, but I can’t get behind some of these recent — albeit trivial — trends.

I believe the site GoFundMe has to be the worst thing that’s ever been invented. And I’m shocked at how many people, including several of my “friends” on Facebook, would be so tone deaf in using it as an appropriate tool. Last summer nearly $400,000 was raised on GoFundMe for Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, MO cop who shot and killed an unarmed 18 year-old, but this isn’t merely a symptom of major stories. I mean, I’ve seen a guy post a GFM with a target goal of $3,000 in donations so he could buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. I’ve seen a woman ask for $1,000 in donations to help buy her books and college classes. Without shame. And of course, donations to help pay for a funeral. I think, if I was to argue with myself about it, a death is the only thing that would warrant any serious sympathy from me.

If I’m calling it what it is, to me there is nothing that separates posting a GoFundMe from sleeping beneath the overpass at night and asking for change during the day. The least fortunate, in the U.S. at least, are those people. For 100,000-250,000 years, depending on which scientist you ask, humans have evolved, and civilization has evolved, to bring us to this precious moment in time. Maybe I’m the old grouch and undeserved charity isn’t something I can reconcile. Maybe my level of pride is too great to see the benefits, because I could never see myself dropping at the mercy of those on Facebook — 90% of which I have no relationship with anymore — to help myself. I just couldn’t do it. And further I think people are cheapening themselves and everything this country is built on — working hard being near the top of the list — by getting involved in this type of nonsense. There are problems, and there are problems. 

The solution is not begging for charity online.

* * * * *

Playing football is extremely difficult, and physically demanding. I’ve never played a down in an organized football game in my life, but I feel confident with that assertion. Football is also difficult to keep playing. According to this 2014 article, the reality is unless you are better than more than 99% of the people you are competing against, you won’t even sniff an opportunity to warm the bench on an NFL roster:

  • 6.5% of high school seniors make it on a CFB roster
  • 1.6% of college players make it on an NFL roster
  • There are over 1,000,000 high school players annually
  • There are about 70,000 college players annually
  • Each year 300 rookies make NFL rosters

So let’s unpack this information for a second: The most reasonable goal is jumping from high school to college, which is about a 1-in-16.5 chance. Of those lucky few, only about 1-in-99 make it to the NFL. That means, on average, if there are 1,000,000 high school football players, only 256 will one day be drafted, and another 30 or so make it as undrafted free agents. That’s closer to 1-in-10,000 high school players who make it to the NFL.

So it’s unlikely, to put it another way.

It seems silly to me that the latest trend in the Not Good Enough To Make It department is to hold signs outside the facility of an NFL team to shame the organization into a job. To my knowledge, the first case happened last month, when a former Towson player, Monte Gaddis, waited outside the Cleveland Browns facility holding a cardboard sign reading:

Monte Gaddis | SS/ST 
Overlooked
#ClevelandNative
Will Do All Drills!
Starving For My 1st Shot
Why Not?

There is also hashtag saying #LetsEat, because of course there is. And yes, after much press he did get to meet with the Browns General Manager, though according to the club’s official roster, nothing came of it.

So I thought this was an isolated incident, you know? In a final, desperate plea to get noticed, Gaddis went to social media to air out his cause. After the national media picked up on it, he got his chance to meet with the Browns, presumably got some sort of “tryout” as the club did its due diligence, and then the young man went back home. That was supposed to be the end of these stunts.

But then today, I was just on ESPN.com, and it appears another guy, Joe Anderson, did the same thing. Only he actually did make the Jets’ practice squad, and is being bumped up to the 53-man roster this week! Crazy.

Now, Anderson employed the same cardboard sign and sharpie strategy as Gaddis, but it appears his use of language was more effective:

Not homeless… but STARVING for success!!!
Will Run Routes 4 Food
#WhateverItTakes            #Underdog
#IBelieve                             #Hungry

We have to ask ourselves a couple questions here. One, am I an asshole? Second and more importantly, what type of message is this really sending to the younger generation? The NFL, a behemoth $9 billion annual industry, invests tons of time and resources scouring the country each year for players who will improve their team. The goal is to win a Super Bowl. Intellectually, since front offices are dominated by smart people who understand economics and accounting, it only makes sense for them to scout, draft, and procure players they feel will improve their chance at obtaining that ultimate goal.

So when guys hold up signs… again I will say: what separates them from the least desirables? I can be all for the American Dream and I do want people who are deserving to get paid what they are worth.

But there are other ways to accomplish this without getting the media involved. Because once it does, they are going to pander to the trivial one-in-a-million crowd who like cute stories with happy endings, and front offices are going to be faced with this public relations ultimatum: Either tell the guy to fuck off — and I don’t think I have to explain to repercussions there — or do the silly dog and pony show to give the guy a “chance”. Every club would be forced to do the same thing.

To me, this type of behavior shouldn’t be recognized or celebrated. It should be pointed out with the same stigma and shame attached to homeless people. It undermines the extraordinary effort and hard work put in by NFL scouts and video coordinators who get paid slave wages to spend time each day reviewing film from Joe Blow from fucking Podunk, in hopes that one day they will get promoted from that shit position. That, to me, is the real American Dream. Working hard and getting shit done.

So yes, there is something profanely anti-intellectual about doing business the way of GoFundMe or holding up signs. There seems to be this growing population of people who think they have been wronged in some way, and that something is inherently owed to them. The sad truth is that every NFL team passed on both of this guys in the draft, and there is a near-0% chance they were overlooked, which is to suggest they were ever serious prospects in the first place.

Out there, millions of people are starving. Everybody want to make it. Everybody wants to eat. But we don’t all pass our problems along to GoFundMe or holding signs up. There are other reasonable ways to obtain and accomplish goals.

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