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Being Reproachable Is Easy

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Update 10/31/2012: I have been in touch with the Superbowl 2012 Committee thanks to Brian from the NFL. This group is a charity organization that wanted their volunteers to have the special love that handmade scarves would give. Most of these volunteers will be outdoors to make sure everyone coming to the game has a safe and fun visit to Indianapolis. By offering the Indianapolis and football communities a chance to participate, everyone has a chance to help. I am teaming with Jaime Guthals from Interweave to help promote this community building fun.

Sometimes I walk into a store or shop and immediately get the question, “Can I help you?” Depending on my mood the answer always varies, but mostly of the time I respond with “No thanks; not yet.” That one question more often gets a “no” instead of a “yes” answer. Yet why do these businesses pounce on new customers with it? I understand if the entering customer walked in with a purpose (that is one facial expression which can be obvious), but many times these folks want to browse and see what catches their eye instead of being pounced upon.

Recently I was shown a website in what appears to be a plea by the Superbowl 2012 Committee asking for 8,000 handknit scarves donated to their volunteers. My initial reaction was quite negative. “Are they F-ING kidding me? They have all this money designated to the Superbowl and will not GIVE their volunteers a scarf from their stadium shops?” I was so angered by their entitled attitude that I contacted the Brian McCarthy — Public Relations for the NFL. I must have hit a sour note, because he asked me to email him about the details. Here is what I emailed to him with the typos corrected and private details hidden:

    In regarding the Superbowl 2012 Committee’s request for NFL fans to give them 8,000 scarves for their volunteers, the initial feeling I had was revoltion and anger. I had to keep reading [that] particular website and yet still could not believe my eyes. It turns out that I am not alone. Here are the points I noticed and why this request is causing negative publicity:

    1. The tone of the page casts a demeaning light on the knitting hobby itself and why. The wording seems to have changed since I first contacted you, but the idea that folks should knit for the Superbowl Committee 2012 volunteers instead of charities is ludicrous.
    2. Saying that a scarf would “only cost $8 – 12[“] is nowhere near how much money really is paid. Good balls of yarn start at $10 apiece upon average. Heck, one of my hoodies was made with yarn that cost $45 a ball, and I used 12 balls to make that sweater.
    3. The time required is easily 40 hours of manual work. Imagine typing on your keyboard or driving at forty hours straight. Carpal tunnel anyone? By the way, the time to make that hoodie I mentioned above was 4 months. It’s been retail priced at $2500-USD.
    4. The fact that the committee will not provide scarves themselves and wants the NFL fans to do so in their stead shows their refusal to reward their volunteers. Can you say “We are too cheap to give our volunteers a scarf from our stadium shop. Please do it for us.” any louder?

    Rosey Grier is one of my heroes because he would understand how that request rubs fiber folks like me the wrong way. We gladly make hats, blankets, scarves, prayer shawls, socks, slippers and such for charity. When Haiti’s tragedy occurred, designers and yarn manufacturers donated hefty percentages of their gross profits to help. For this committee to ask donations from knitters is a slap in the face to the sick children (Project Linus), veterans (Knit your Bit), homeless (various charities make blankets and socks), cancer patients (chemo and radiation hats), soldiers (Helmet Liner Project which ends November of this year), sailors (Warm a Sole Project), and college attending fosters/orphans (Red Scarf Project). These folks are just the tip of the iceberg on deserving a handmade item, and the reaction I am getting from other knitters is the same as mine — “How dare they with all the money they have” is mostly said.

    To shed light on how I would “know so much” about knitters, I am the Director of Social Media for XRX, Inc. In no way does my opinion about this topic is shared by them. This past summer I was queried by [an international advertising agency] on how to help them address the niche and smaller markets. I am speaking from my own experiences and how I am able to determine market reactions for profit in my industry. In fact, I am using my personal email address to demonstrate these thoughts are strictly mine. Please realize that I am sharing my thoughts in order to prevent the NFL from being lumped into the “WTF!! The NFL, team owners, and players have all this money and won’t GIVE volunteers a freakin’ scarf!!” (This quote has been the most said reaction thus far.)

    I hope this committee changes their tune and decides to donate those 8,000 scarves to a charity. Interestingly enough, the article that I am working on discusses being reproachable to customers, especially new ones. I think I have found the winner to use as the best example yet! Thanks again for your time, and feel free to call me for any questions.

Brian did get back to me and said that 2,000 of the requested amount have been donated so far. What did those numbers tell me? That only 1/4 of the needed scarves were seen as important enough over the various charities in the world. Am I being over-protective of those folks in need over volunteers who are mostly “in it” to attend a free Superbowl game? You betcha!! And I dearly hope you are too. =:8

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  1. completely agree. With all the people who need something to keep them warm, something made by hand to show that someone somewhere cares about them, why knit volunteer’s scarfs (If they where a volunteer helping after some natural disaster not a GAME I would gladly help)? Are they going for something here? Like the Olympics and the sweaters?

  2. Hate to be a “me too!” but I agree. The subject of charity knitting can be a sore one. I’m not sure sometimes that organisations, even some charities although I don’t mean all, of course, appreciate just how much work goes into knitting. Too often there’s this attitude that things can just be “whipped up” over night. I can’t tell you how much it annoys me that when our goodwill is taken for granted!

    Fantastic post.

  3. Are they F-ING kidding is right! When I volunteered for the women’s US (golf) Open, we bought our own shirts, hats, and windbreakers. If the USGA had tried to coerce people into turning us into charity cases, I would have had nothing to do with the event, as much as I love golf.

  4. I agree with the posted sentiment here. If the knitted scarves were for charity, and those “in need” (say for instance, knitted hats for newborn babies or scarves for cancer patients, as I have seen done before and participated in), I could see the request made for them, but if the NFL is requesting this for volunteers, who are already donating their time, and should realize that it’s not about “receiving something” for their efforts, but for “giving” of themselves, then I don’t understand why the “need” for scarves. I’m of course making a simple statement … the volunteers themselves aren’t expecting anything (at least that is the mindset I have always entered into “volunteering” with) … so why is the NFL requesting such a donation be made on their behalf. I just do not understand that at all.

  5. Yours is the second post that I’ve seen regarding this request. I think the other one was from Franklin Habit. As the founder of a charity that reliess 100% on the kindness and generosity of those who knit, crochet or sew, I appreciate the sentiments being voiced regarding the NFL’s request. The NFL makes money – a lot of it. Fans pay a lot of money for Super Bowl tickets. Players get a scandalous salary for playing, and owners earn millions. NFL Pro Shops sell team scarves for $24.99 each. Their base price is probably in the $8 to $12 range that they’ve quoted. IMHO, they should cough up the $60 to $90 thousand dollars and GIVE a volunteer a scarf. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the millions that will be made in advertising, concessions and ticket gate.

  6. I totally agree! Poor NFL, needing donations for their volunteers! Perhaps the NFL should PAY knitters for the scarves and then give them away. I’m sure they’d love to see THAT bill!! Grrrr!

  7. The NFL can mend this PR dropped stitch quite easily:

    1-Foot the bill for scarves for volunteers to wear during Super Bowl events.

    2-Encourage the volunteers to return the scarves after the Super Bowl, with the returned scarves being donated to one of the charities that collects scarves for folks who truly are in need of them. The NFL promo folks can consult with NFL Charities for groups that can put the scarves to good use.

  8. I read about this on another blog by a knitter in Indiana who is actually knitting these scarves as fast and furiously as she can for the project. My reaction was WTF!?! I didn’t post it in her comments, I just quietly tip toed out, shaking my head.

  9. I look at this project completely differently. It is a way to produce an excitement and buzz about the Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis. It is a way to make the residents feel a part of the experience. The really cool thing is that the Super Bowl Committee is getting new knitters involved. The 1000’s of kits that have been given away free are distributed at the local libraries, not the local yarn shops. They also are providing free knitting lessons at the libraries. We have a little group that has met at a local park and 6 new knitters are knitting their first project, a super bowl scarf. We can look at it as a glass half empty (they could be working on a more “worthwhile” project), or we could look at it as a glass half full. Think of the 100’s of new knitters this project is introducing to our local yarn stores, to events like stitches, to magazines, or event to knit a project to a charity deemed more “worthwhile”. By the way while you were on the website did you look at all the positive things the Super Bowl committee was doing for the community?

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