Pay To Play

The Boston Globe ran a great, disturbing article the other day about the relationship between Pop Warner youth football leagues and Disney. Each year, Pop Warner hosts age-group national championships at Disney’s facility in Orlando and charges the teams ridiculous amounts of money for the honor.
The agreement between Pop Warner and Disney stipulates that each participant on every team stay four nights at an official Disney hotel and buy at least two day passes to a Disney park.
From the article:

While rooms were available at a nearby Comfort Inn through for $51.43 a night during Pop Warner’s championships, Disney’s least expensive package for the Pop Warner teams required a three-night stay (four persons per room) at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort and a four-day theme park pass for $319 per person. At that rate, Disney received $1,276 per room, or nearly $425 a night.

Given that Pop Warner often caters to inner-city kids (the league are only $30 to join for a season) and the teams have a short time to raise funds for their trips (and find flights), many teams and coaches take on tremendous debt to get the kids to the tournament.
The whole thing makes me sick. First up on “deserves an ass-kicking” podium is the Disney spokesman who had the balls to say “We understand it can be difficult for some teams. That’s why we do all we can to work with them.” Please. For Disney, “doing all that they can” would include making it free. I understand that they are a business, but extorting kids is bad enough. Don’t lie to us too.
Next up on the podium are the Pop Warner leaders who agreed to this ridiculous arrangement. They claim that no other venue can handle the tournament, but that’s ludicrous. There are probably hundreds of locations that could support the tournaments. Maybe they wouldn’t quite as nice as Disney, but they wouldn’t require volunteer coaches to max out their credit cards to get the kids there either.
Last up are all the parents and coaches who agree to go through with all of this. Why would you go to debt for a damn youth football tournament? So little Johnnie can get another trophy? Do they really think the kids wouldn’t be perfectly satisfied with a regional or state title? Is it really worth having no Christmas for or having your heat turned off? Somehow I don’t think the power company is going to be sympathetic that you just had to take a week’s vacation to Orlando so you can’t pay the bill this month.
People piss me off sometimes.

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