Anyone who has kids in school now or in the past 10 years playing sports probably has an idea of what pay to play means. Schools often charge parents a fee for their child to participate in a sport, paying to play. The fees go to help with the costs of coaches, uniforms, equipment and transportation, it is becoming a fairly common feature in many school districts. It is a tough issue for schools and certainly the efficiency and efficacy of education is a topic well beyond the scope of The Bigfootery Enquirer. It is one of those do not get me started topics, but generally I see a need and some benefit to pay to play (mostly in the area of when one spends one’s only money, there is a higher commitment to something). But there is a hook here for the aspiring and current “Bigfoot Researcher” as pay to play can also be found in the world of bigfootery. It is certainly one of those things where your mileage may vary.
Ask any second level “Bigfoot Researcher” if anyone in bigfootery is using pay to play and one organization will invariably pop up in the conversation, the Bigfoot Field Research Organization, the BFRO. What many do not consider is there are a number of other organizations out there employing the pay to play model, and that the return on the investment may be much lower than, and in the long run more expensive, than the oft decryed BFRO. Some will immediately dismiss that assertion as donkey doo doo, but let us delve deeper into this idea.
The pay to play practice of the BFRO is in the form of paying to attend expeditions. One can learn a great deal about this practice at the website, bfro.net. The published fee to attend a three to four day expedition is $300, which pays for a participant and, at the organizer’s discretion, one guest. The fee does not include camping gear or food, but does allow access to gear and expertise, some of which is very rare to other groups or individuals. These expeditions also serve as a screening and proving ground for potential investigators for the organization. Space permitting, active investigators who are members of the BFRO can attend expeditions at no cost. Repeat attendees are offered a rate of $100, space permitting.
Are other bigfootery groups practicing pay as you play? You bet. Many have membership dues, they might not be as steep as an expedition fee, but over the years they add up to change the return on investment ratio. Here are a few.
Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy – $60 individual annual dues.
American Bigfoot Society – $30 for an individual, $45 for a family in the form of annual dues.
Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society – $30 for an individual, $50 for a family of four (they ding you $5 per kid after that) in the form of annual dues.
Oregon Bigfoot.com – $4.95/mo. ($59.40 annually) for enhanced website access.
And now for the return on investment discussion. What you get for your money is going to differ, remember your mileage will vary. Much of it will depend upon the effort and the schmooze you are willing to put out. Most of the above groups will claim additional membership benefits, like access to cookouts, the overused word “expeditions”, and sighting reports. Quantity wise, it seems the BFRO offers more in terms of reports and outdoor opportunities based upon a review of websites. Judge yourself, unless the group hides that info from the casual surfer, which is a red flag in and of itself. Let’s say that you and your spouse or teenage child would like to get involved with one of these pay as play opportunities, that will be assumption #1. Let’s also say that you are really dedicated and into bigfootery and plan to be at it for 10 years, or even 15. And let’s also say that you are quite a “Bigfoot Researcher” with skills, a good personality and you are from a state where the BFRO needs help with investigating reports, so you are invited to become a member after your first expedition. Even if it took a second expedition, at $100 more, you will see in the long term that cost is immaterial in comparison to the annual dues pay as you play fund raising model.
So what does your investment costs look like over time for these groups?
Group 5 year investment 10 year investment 15 year investment
BFRO $300 $300 $300
TBRC $600 $1,200 $1,800
ABS $225 $450 $675
PBS $250 $500 $750
Oregon BF $297 $594 $891
My point, The Bigfootery Enquirer reader, is that although maligned for charging $300 for an expedition fee, the BFRO pay to play structure returns your investment superior to all of the other above groups in year six and just keeps getting better after that break even point. If you are in it for the long haul of 15 years, those groups that charge an annual membership will be anywhere from two to six times as expensive, notwithstanding the quantitative values of each pay to play option.
The other side of this coin is that there are some groups that do not charge a membership fee and you can certainly go out and about on your own. The other option is one many third level “Bigfoot Researchers” take, which is to create a new group yourself, a hallmark of bigfootery.
In regards to the comment below:
Actually, the math is based upon two people and fully set out in the paragraph above the calculations. Dues are individual and annual according to the website. Good point on the tax deduction, if you are in a 20% tax bracket that reduces the 15 year investment by $360 for a total investment of $1,440. As the income for the TBRC is less than $25k, it is exempted from filing IRS returns, if the money is returned back into equipment and not salaries or travel reimbursements, then good for them.
Allowing for the tax break, this reduces the 8 fold factor to just a little less than 5 fold higher than other options in the longest term.