Sunday, January 23, 2011

FBC Thoughts

Wow, what a weekend of basketball we just saw!  Nothing short of a total domination of the two closest PAC-10 rivals in this season's standings.

So I think I'll take a little time to go over some Fast Break Club stuff in this blog.

Ever since the change to make the Buck/Cardinal Club the main fund raising arm for all of Stanford's sports teams, the format of the Fast Break Club has been evolving and I have heard many of the grumbles.

So let's look at a few points and see what we can see.

Let me start by saying that the access Stanford Women's Basketball gives to its program is unprecedented and has been for a very long time.  It all started out in a cozy tent behind Maples in the late 80's and hasn't changed much in over 20 years.  We are able to see players and coaches in a very up close and personal setting.

I have been to games at Tennessee.  Coach Summitt might come out and address the crowd.  The only time I saw that was when she did her post-game radio show from the court.  Many years ago, there was an "Eileen-type" in the office who had previously worked at Tennessee--she was flabbergasted at the access that was given by the Stanford players and staff.  This is not to pick on Tennessee, but to point out that high level programs just don't do what Stanford does.

Unfortunately, once something is given, it is hard to have it taken away.  So finding a balance of what works for fans and what works for the team is always difficult. 

I admit that I am a lurker on the woman's Hoopsboard--no posting, just doing some reading to see what is going on.  So, when a recent string entitled "FBC Events" showed up, I was interested.  It started out as a comment on the move of post games from Arrillaga to Maples.

"I see from the e-mail that went around today that all the tents for the rest of the year are in Maples instead of Dallmar court. Does anyone know why? "

Hopefully, you have already heard of the financial issues that necessitated this change.  If not, in short, it costs the Program big $$ to set up for the post game in Arrillaga.  The tarp on the floor (necessary to make sure the floor is not damaged), the chairs and even the podium have to be paid for.  Recently, the cost of setup was raised from $1,000 per game to over $3,500 without notice.  So, the money that had been budgeted for the year is already gone. 

The best work-around is to stay in Maples.  The Coaches don't necessarily like it, as they cannot be as candid as they are used to being.  But on the bright side, this gives access to newer fans who would not know to go over to Arrillaga at all.  In addition, the Staff is trying very hard to hold Senior Day in Arrillaga. 

Some say, let's pass the hat and pay for this.   It probably couldn't be done, but, if we were really able to raise $3,500 per game, wouldn't it be far better spent in support of something that the team needs instead of paying for an hour of chat?

As a result of this change, the Thursday post games are back, now in the Kissick Auditorium.  Yes, these used to be on the court in Arrillaga, but, again, this is not financially feasible.  And yes, it can be crowded!  I was there last Thursday and may I offer a hint?  Folks, please sit next to each other and make seats available.  There were empty seats inside, but everyone was stuck at the door.  It would be great if some volunteer ushers would step up! 

Remember, too, that the Pre-Game chalk talks remain in place as always.

So back to the Hoopsboard string--

"Well I'm not going to contribute to Buck/Cardinal next year or ever again. Why should I when for my contribution I apparently lost events I used to enjoy."

Contributions to the Buck/Cardinal Club have absolutely nothing to do with events that take place.  The FBC is being maintained by the Program because they understand how valuable the group has been and continues to be.

At some point, when donating money to anything, it becomes a matter of whether a person donates for what they receive or for what that donation will do for the recipient.  This is a very personal thing that everyone has to decide for themselves.

"Moving everything to the Buck/Cardinal Club has had a very destructive effect on the FBC. The whole 'donor' thing is pricing out folks who have supported this team for years."

How is this true?  Remember, in years past, you had to show your membership badge to attend post games. Now, you just show up.  Nobody knows what you have paid for.

"Also, it is hard to join. I wanted to join in September this year and found out that I missed the deadline -- according to the FBC web site, you had to donate before August 31, 2010 to receive benefits for 2010-11. I donated anyway, so -- I guess -- I will be a member starting in the 2011-12 season. Who ever heard of a fan club that you have to wait a year to get into?"

This is a tough one, but remember that the Buck/Cardinal supports all Stanford sports, so the membership calendar is set up in conjunction with their fiscal year.  This results in difficult timing to join in support of all Winter and Spring sports if you are trying to join right before their seasons start.  But, by selecting Women's Basketball on your Buck/Cardinal application, you are assuring that your money is designated to the Program no matter what time of year you join.  And, just as important, keep in mind that this membership timing does not exclude anyone from FBC events.

"And no auction this year. In the past this has been promoted as a key fundraiser and the primary source of funds for foreign trips. It now seems to have declined in importance."

OK, this one is close to my heart!  Frankly, in the past, we did not receive much feedback on the auction that would indicate that it was all that popular with attendees.  We discussed this before the season and decided to give it a year break to maybe refresh it (and the Volunteers!) and create a demand.  With the support of the Buck/Cardinal, it was OK to take that break for a year.  And guess what?  Now we hear that people are missing the Auction!  So, in response, we are auctioning a jersey at the Thursday post games and we are already planning for a mid-November 2011 Auction.  You can be assured that the Auction will remain the primary fund raiser for foreign trips, which can take place every four years.

I, like so many, was reluctant to join the Buck/Cardinal Club because I was certain all of the $$ would go to Football.  But the results are great, according to the Coaching Staff.  Their focus no longer needs to be on fund raising, so they have time to do what they do best--COACH!  Instead of about 300 donors to the Program during the FBC-only days, there are now over 800 donors to Women's Basketball, all because of the Buck/Cardinal Club.  That is true progress!

I hear comments about the Program--that "they just don't care anymore."  That is just not true.  From the get-go, the concern was always that the uniqueness of the FBC be maintained as the conversion to Buck/Cardinal took place.  Our FBC group is vastly appreciated by all involved and not caring is just not in the equation.  If they didn't care, all of these activities would have just gone away.

In the end it is important to remember nothing stays the same.  We may not be in that cozy tent behind Maples, but our support is still a cornerstone to the grand success that is Stanford Women's Basketball.  It has been, and will continue to be, a fabulous, fun, fast-breakin' good time!


  1. Well said Dana!
    I especially like your point about reasons for donating to something.
    I get nothing tangible from my donation to women's basketball, but the satisfaction of supporting a program that gives me so much pleasure is priceless.

  2. "keep in mind that this membership timing does not exclude anyone from FBC events"

    One can't keep that in mind if you don't know it. I was the one who posted the comment about it being tough to join. Since I missed the deadline and thus am not a member yet this year, I am not on the mailing list and I generally don't know anything other than what I can see on the web page or what's mentioned on the message board. I had no way of knowing I could (shall we say) sneak into events without being a member yet, and it didn't seem appropriate to me to try that and see if it would work. I *have* been staying for the talks when they are held in Maples since they are announced to everyone over the P.A., but nothing else.

  3. You cannot fault fans for wondering if Buck/Cardinal bucks has caused the program to no longer need to put energy into FBC. After years of events suddenly no auction every year, weekday post-game events stopped until fan unhappiness brought them back, tents in Maples (now we know why but it was only after complaints that the $ issue was communicated). Even if they have been great about doing FBC events for so long it does appear that now that they don't need direct contributions from fans into FBC that events are getting cut. Why would you think fans don't like the auction when so many show up to bid $25,000 or $30,000 on auction items. It's a little disingenuous to say you thought nobody cared when monetary evidence says otherwise.

    Everyone wants to support the program. FBC events are a win win for the program and the fans whether or not monetary support is given. They bring fans closer to the program. It is hard to convince people how great it is when Buck/Cardinal giving and decline in FBC events correlate.

  4. Many thanks, Dana, to you and the others who put in so much time to make the FBC a success. The transition to Buck/Cardinal has been complicated: the donation process has changed and, I guess it hasn't been clear to all that everyone is welcome, though I'm sure that is announced at the beginning of every game.

    I think it's great we gave the auction a rest. It was getting to be a tired expectation. My experience is that attendance dwindled over the last years, receipts were trending down, and the volunteers who put in a tremendous amount of time every year in preparation for the event needed a break. I don't recall anyone stepping up and saying they'd like to take it over.

    Your article has prompted some terrific communication. Let's keep it rolling.

    BTW if anyone isn't getting the FBC online newletter from Eileen Roche, they should send her their email address (

  5. The reported increase in the cost of preparing Dallmar Court for post-game meetings doesn't make sense. How could the costs have increased from $1,000 to $3,500? Thinking about the different things required (protect floor, chairs, stage, etc.) I have trouble getting to $1,000, let alone $3,500. Has anyone asked for a breakdown?

  6. Keep those comments coming, folks! I will wait a bit and put togehter a response to questions and comments. If this can become a positive forum for discussion, GREAT!

  7. Does one have to donate to Buck/Cardinal to be on the FBC mailing list?

  8. What do you mean Senior Day in Arrillaga? Are they not going to hold it in Maples right after the game like they have? I am a little confused on this point.

  9. I was stunned to read that it cost $1000 for Dallmar. How long does it take for the floor to be covered and the PA system set up? And then to read it had been upped to $3500...

    I think it was a good decision to give the auction a break. Renew the interest.

    The FBC is amazing. All of you who do so much to make it happen are wonderful people. Many many thanks!

  10. There are few people who like change, and it’s apparent that many who’ve commented here are in that group. I’m one of those also. I especially haven’t liked the changes that have taken place in our country in the last couple of years – the recession, high unemployment, etc. Everyone has had to tighten their belts, including Stanford University, who is not exempt from the effects of those changes.

    I remember fondly the days of going to the “tent” behind Maples after games. I love the fact that we fans have such great access to the coaches and players. It just seems to have become a little restricted now by the economy, so I can’t blame the University for charging (what we feel are outrageous prices) to set up Arrillaga.

    The issue of donating to the Buck/Cardinal after the fiscal year began is unfortunate, and I agree that Stanford could have made a better effort to make that clear to the fans. But, the fact that we can designate our donations to women’s basketball I think is fabulous. And, I’m thrilled that donations designated to WBB have more than doubled!

    And now about the Auction taking a breather this year. I have mixed emotions about this because I’ve volunteered for the auction every year since its inception – and it’s darned hard work, but VERY rewarding and FUN! I can’t begin to express the appreciation I have for all the help volunteers provide and how hard they work. But it was time for a break. And I like the fact that players’ jerseys will be auctioned after the Thursday games…player uniforms are a very hot item!

    It would be a nice gesture if all of you reading this would send an email to Eileen in the office to let her know that you miss the auction ( And, perhaps, some of you would also like to let her know you are willing to volunteer your time for the next auction. We’d be more than glad to welcome you!