No fund me

Should aspiring pros be asking the public to fund their dreams? Asia-Pacific editor Phil Wrochna doesn't think so.

| December 1, 2017 | NEWS

Photo >Baronoskie | Dreamstime

There has been a lot of commentary around it in the triathlon world and, I must confess, when I came across this, I, too, did a double take. Was it for real? It is. Aspiring pro triathlete Danielle Dingman has set up a Go Fund Me page to get her started in triathlon’s pro game. And, although she is no ground breaker, this platform has now been used to fund someone’s sporting aspirations. 

For varying levels of investment (for $1000 you can name her bike) you can invest in the burgeoning career of Dingman. Her goal is $13,000 to cover flights, food, coaching and more. 

So, while I support anyone who wants to be a pro, the way Dingman has gone about it leaves a foul taste in my mouth. It smacks of indulgence and speaks to the gimme gimme attitude that many young pros have. Of the many young pros trying to make a name for themselves, only Dingman sees it as a good thing for people to fund her dream. But, as she says, "Dreams are pesky” (not really sure that means).

I've watched a number of pros over the journey while covering this great sport. Many will tell you of the struggles they go through from day to day. A couple of very well known pros can tell you stories of stretching every last dollar when they started. I personally witnessed the sacrifice they had to make to get a start and to get overseas to where the "dollars" were. On assignment in Taupo earlier this year I was speaking to a huge hitting pro, who was very clear that every contract took hours and hours to get, making each and every one very precious and so hard to hang on to. But they never quit and never thought that this was anything other than their own personal fight. Not the responsibility of "Joe average" to pony up some dough. And this is not just the world of triathlon. Getting to a professional level in sports is generally paved with hard work and a slow progression of money. Not a crowd sourcing environment.

One might argue that this case isn't any different to someone getting money to invent a gadget, create a working environment or launch a product. In essence Dingman is launching a product, herself as a pro triathlete and maybe she has captured a new way of launching a career. New levels of digital reach has enabled those so inclined to harness these new revenue raising platforms. Is Dingman just exploiting this?

The triathlon world doesn't seem to be buying that argument. Social media was not generally kind to Dingman and her money raising scheme. The commentary around this issue was largely against Dingman and, given the history of the professionalism in this sport, you can understand where the frustration is coming from.

Triathletes, by their nature, are resourceful, resilient and hardworking. Triathlon pros are an amplification of this and have to be resourceful. Forever pros have slept on couches, borrowed bikes, helmets and all sorts of things to make their careers work. There are those who will argue that getting funded is a resourceful effort and, to a degree, it is.

But Go Fund Me was not created for this type of ludicrous indulgence. Crowdsourcing funds for meaningful pursuits are an exercise in civic and community mindfulness. And, while it could be argued it is a business pursuit, it is just not right in my mind. Setting up this type of arrangement for such a trivial and armchair style ride into a professional sporting job is just wrong. Go Fund Me? No fund me.