It’s not just fans who are turning to the crowd for help in getting to New York for this weekend’s popular basketball festivities
By CHARMAINE NERO
It’s not just thirsty groupies or eager fans looking to finance their way to New York City for the NBA All-Star Weekend; journalists too are using popular crowdfund platforms to raise money to pay for them to go to the popular games.
Valencia King, a sports and entertainment reporting intern for KKVI Radio, a local community station in Dallas, Texas, had raised $650 on the eve of the games through her crowdfund campaign on GoFundMe. King said covering the games is an opportunity to help fulfill her career goals in broadcast journalism and sports marketing.
“Opportunities like this are not possible without funding This is where you can help support me on my journey,” she says in her video. Money raised will help cover travel and lodging costs as well as equipment rental, she said.
The NBA All-Star Weekend is not just the mecca for all NBA fans to converge, it is also the highlight of a sports journalist’s career. It’s the place to be seen, to network and showcase your sports knowledge with some of the best in the business. But even with media credentials and tickets, there are many hurdles to jump through before gaining access.
Last year, Brandon Robinson, a sports and entertainment journalist, created an account on GoFundMe to gain press access to the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend events. The NBA approved his media credentials, but the company he worked for didn’t have the funds to cover his trip to New Orleans.
Robinson raised $2,360 of his $5,000 goal through GoFundMe, a platform that was founded in 2010. But he faced objection from fellow journalists because of his choice to ask for donations. “A lot of journalists of higher standing think that you have to earn your way and pay your dues,” he says about journalists who scolded him about his choice to crowdfund to attend All-Star Weekend, suggesting it’s only OK if the publication you work for pays for it. “Our generation is more resourceful. We are younger; the ‘make it happen’ generation.”
He said that the backlash he encountered from his crowdfunding attempt motivated him in life. “The negative feedback fueled me and put more diesel in my tank,” he said. “It was like a college road trip but on a professional network. My only concern was getting the job done.”
Although Robinson fell short of his goal, he was able to cover costs for himself and a photographer to attend the events.
The price for this year’s NBA All-Star Game on Saturday, February 14, comes at a hefty price. It starts at $1,075, according to Stubhub.com. The price for a courtside seat starts at a mere $13,339.
At those prices, it is unclear whether King will be able to raise enough money to pay her way to the games the weekend (last we checked, she’d only raised $615.00 through her crowdfund campaign). King did not respond to messages from All Digitocracy, but being able to afford tickets to the NBA All-Star Game and the Slam Dunk Contest is a dilemma for fans too.
Jonathan Lester, a 19-year-old student, is one of those fans. He is preparing to take a 4-hour journey to New York City to partake in this year’s NBA All-Star practice, not the actual game. Lester decided to create a GoFundMe page to pay his way.
A student at Pine Manor College in Boston, Mass., Lester said that he believes that crowdfunding sites are “beneficial for people who are less fortunate” and may not be able to afford to attend the high-priced events for All-Star Weekend. He created a Twitter status, tagging high-profile players like Lebron James, hoping to get access to some of the more expensive events.
Charmaine Nero is a student in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she serves as president of the campus chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. She is also the UNITY/TICKETMASTER reporting fellow covering the 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend in New York City. This post is made possible through the fellowship.