It felt real good today to drive to the Thornton Food Bank with a trunk full of bagged foodstuffs, in the first donation to them on behalf of Colorado Hockey Now.
Thornton is the city I live in (it’s technically a city, but it’s really just another medium-sized town, a suburb of Denver). Like any town/city, it has its share of the homeless and the hungry. I’ve lived here for about 16 years now, and it’s a tough place to feel a true sense of community, because it’s not small enough to be a “everybody knows everybody” small town, like the places I grew up as a kid in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Yet, it’s not a big enough place to have a ton of taxpayer-paid big projects, like a big city. So, there are a lot of ‘tweeners here, in all aspects. I can definitely say, though, that there is a need to feed the hungry in Thornton, so it, again, felt real good to drop off a lot of food today on behalf of the people who have given to the Avs Travel Tip Jar as part of this enterprise.
The Avs Travel Tip Jar (see the link on the site here) all goes to funding my travel to Avalanche road games. Well, 95% of it does. The other 5% goes to the Thornton Food Bank.
Travel to road games is where the rubber meets the road (pun intended) for any sports news enterprise. It’s easy enough to cover games from home, but can you afford it to go on the road?
For the longest time, I had it easy. A big-time paper would cover all my costs and then some on the road. Not only did I have a corporate credit card when I traveled all those years for The Denver Post, with all the planes and hotels paid on that, but I would also get a healthy cash advance on any road trip. Yes, there was an office at the paper whose sole job was to dole out cash to traveling reporters for “incidentals” and/or expenses like hotel/plane rides if they wanted to pay it in cash.
Let’s say I was on a seven-day, four-game road trip for the Post, circa 1999, covering the Avalanche. I had the corporate card to pay for hotels (the paper paid the airfare in advance from its own corporate account, in most cases) and other meals in restaurants, etc. But I also got a cash advance – probably something like $300 – for other incidentals like, oh, a bunch of newspapers at the airport newsstand upon arrival (research, don’t you know) or, say, tips to the guy/gal who opened the door to your cab door or to the cab driver him/herself or for a bottle or two of water (wink, wink) at the hotel, or any other “mad money” expense.
(I want to also point out that Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and BSN Denver have also all paid for me to go on the road in my sports writing career. So thank you to all of the people I reported to there, in succession: Scott Campbell, John Rolfe and Brandon Spano).
Now? The corporate card is gone, man! Will work for food!
No, in reality, I’m fine with this. I don’t want ostentatious, conspicuous consumption anymore. I never really liked it much. Well, OK, ordering room service from the Drake Hotel in Chicago wasn’t bad at all. I highly recommend it to anyone just for one time. Or, the Marriott Marquis in New York.
But, yeah, been there, done that.
I never felt quite right staying in a place that was $200 a night and any room service order was, minimum, 30 bucks. Nice and all, but wouldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere than on my lazy ass?
I embrace the Airbnb lifestyle now. I embrace the share economy. Hotel chains are in BIG trouble because of this, whether they want to admit it or not. If some media organizations want to spend $200 a night still for their reporters to spend a night on the road at some “respectable” hotel, and fork over another $75 a day in food bills then, lol, they’ll only go broke that much faster. Go for it.
But, yeah, it still costs something to go on the road. I’m not independently wealthy (even though my bloodlines include the family that once owned all the electricity in most of Connecticut and some surrounding places – I’m part of the Ferguson family).
I’ve had money and I’ve not had money. I can live either way. I do like some nice things (I wear a Rolex, drove BMWs for about 13 years), but I’m not a very materialistic person. Mostly, I like some things that work well, and Rolexes and Beemers are nice when they’re working.
But I drive a small electric car now. I don’t eat out much anymore and I sure as shit don’t waste my money at Starbucks anymore. I can truthfully say this: some of the happiest times of my life have been when I/we had little money. I think I was happiest as a kid when my folks were really poor. When we started to get more material things, I don’t think we were quite as close/happy.
Therefore, I’m going to be very economical with any Tip Jar money that comes my way. It won’t go to conspicuous consumption. Whatever it takes to make the travel costs easier, and to give something back to the community, that’s all I’m asking for here. And if I get a big fat yawn on this in the end? If it’s a flop? That’s OK. I will have tried, which is what I want to say to myself when all is said and done.
Lest you think this is a losing proposition though, here’s a certified fact: I had a one-year goal for the total number of subscribers in this venture. After a little more than three weeks, I’m at 67% of that goal. The season hasn’t even started yet. Thank YOU for this being possible.
As an Avs fan, the coverage I can provide WILL be better, more in-depth, the more I can travel. It’s always better to be where the team actually is when covering said team, as opposed to one’s couch, watching on Center Ice. So, yeah, maybe look at it like you’re paying yourself back a little too. I’m not hoping to go to EVERY game.
It was always a loss leader for big media to travel to every single game before. You don’t need to be in Calgary on a November regular-season game, at great cost. It’s what put big media in the hole in the first place, doing that.
But you want to be there if you can.
So, thanks for giving to the Tip Jar (you know who you are) and let’s keep it going, eh?