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