By Barrett Neale
For more than 60 years, Sports Boosters of Maryland has been supporting local youth sports programs, and select members have increased their commitment to the cause.
Within the past couple of years, Sports Boosters began offering lifetime memberships -- a one-time, $1,000 fee as opposed to the annual $100 membership dues -- and there are now 16 lifetime members.
|From left to right: Daniel Crone, Bill Smulyan, Eric DeCosta, Alvin Levi and Bob Schroter|
"There are a number of nonprofits that have lifetime memberships," said Alvin Levi, who joined Sports Boosters about three years ago and is the chairman of its membership committee. "They do so in order to get both emotional and financial, as well as personal, commitment by people to their organization. I kind of borrowed that idea when I proposed it to the board. …
"The moment they passed it, four of us in the board became life members. It was kind of funny. The gavel sounds, the motion passes and now the four of us are arguing who really was the first life member."
Since then, the group of four has quadrupled, as more and more people make $1,000 pledges. Membership fees and other fundraising efforts help Sports Boosters donate money to children's sports teams in the area, giving them funds needed for uniforms, equipment and more. Levi said the lifetime memberships were a step up in participation for those with enough resources to make a larger contribution.
"The life members have tended to be -- let me be kind -- over 50," Levi said, "and as a result, they've been there. They've done it. They've participated. They've gotten in the arena. They've given their hits, and they've taken a few, too. But they know what sports have meant to them in terms of their lives and their development, and they are without a doubt the most enthusiastic part of Sports Boosters."
Though some lifetime members, like Levi, belonged to Sports Boosters already, Bob Schreter became a lifetime member right away when he joined the organization earlier this year.
"It's sort of a bifurcated demographic," Schreter said of the Sports Boosters members. "Many of the people are my age. I'm 67; I go back to the heydays of the Orioles and Baltimore's attachment to the Baltimore Colts. … Then the next generation I guess would probably be kids of that population, and they probably joined it partly for the sports, but probably for the networking as well."
Schreter's friend and fellow lifetime member, Bill Smulyan, introduced him to the organization at one of its events in April, when local sportswriters shared their opinions about whom the Ravens should select during the 2012 NFL Draft. Schreter said Sports Boosters offered great experiences for sports fans.
For Schreter's birthday, Smulyan bought him a four-person tour of the Under Armour Performance Center with Eric DeCosta, the Baltimore Ravens' assistant general manager. DeCosta had lunch in the players' dining room with Schreter, Smulyan, Levi and fellow Sports Boosters member Daniel Crone, and then spent an hour talking to them about the NFL Draft.
"That was really fun," Schreter said. "DeCosta seems like just a dynamite guy, a very energetic, remarkably bright guy. … [He] had a notebook of all the scenarios from the [Joe] Flacco draft -- if [Matt] Ryan got drafted in this position, if [Keith] Rivers got drafted in this position, trade up, trade down. It was really just a tutorial in how they pull this stuff off, and then we watched practice. It was wonderful."
Levi said that of the leadership opportunities he has had in various organizations, the work he did for Sports Boosters had been one of the most rewarding experiences for him.
"I saw an organization that did so much for young people," Levi said, "because sports is really part of the maturation process for a lot of children to adolescents to adults. You learn discipline. You learn teamwork. You learn responsibility -- not only your own, but responsibility to a larger group -- and at the same time, hopefully you're getting in some degree of shape.
"Those of us who were fortunate enough to have parents who could afford sports equipment were able to participate and strive for some degree of excellence. Sports Boosters is really dedicated to those who don't have those financial resources. … I got inspired, and that's why I joined."
More Cheap Seats:
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• Sports Boosters Aiming To Sign Life Members
• Kinesiology Tape: Miracle Or Myth?
• Sami Zerwitz Competes Despite Family Tragedy
• Save-A-Limb Festival Set For Oregon Ridge
Issue 177: September 2012