USSBA encourages New Jersey event hosts to shelve trophies

Move away from timeworn symbols to help alleviate costs

At a meeting of band directors, boosters and the US Scholastic Band Association on Tuesday, April 13, the USSBA raised the idea of event show hosts ending the timeworn tradition of presenting trophies during the finale of their events.  In many cases, these presentations are only symbols of recognition, but rather we encourage hosts to save the money and put it toward a new pair of cymbals, instruments, uniforms or transportation bills which are more and more becoming the responsibility of their band parent organizations. 

 “In these times of economic uncertainty, we need to be challenging the status quo,” said George Hopkins, CEO of Youth Education in the Arts, parent organization of the USSBA. “Presenting trophies has become an activity that costs bands hundreds if not more than a thousand dollars per event.  Globally speaking, bands spend nearly $70,000 on trophies each year in the USSBA, we feel that money could best be spent elsewhere.” 

Many band directors agree.  Larry Markiewicz, Band Director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School commented, “It doesn’t matter of your placement, everyone seems to take home a trophy of some sort from each event.  After years and years of competition, bands simply do not know what to do with them all.” 

Speaking to why the USSBA would recommend such a move, Sean King, Director of the USSBA said, “As the sanctioning body for so many events, we feel we need to give some direction so bands do not feel slighted or pressured in an attempt to keep up with other hosts in a process that some may consider extravagant in a time of tough budget decisions.  Some regions of the nation have made the awarding of trophies an integral part of their competitions.  Tennessee and Texas come to mind and we do not wish to work against the best interest of these hosts, but rather in areas with significant economic situations, we want bands to do what is right for their program.” 

The USSBA is offering instead to streamline the awards recognition by creating universal placement and caption certificates suitable for framing which can be presented to all participating units in lieu of expensive and difficult to transport trophies.  These professionally produced certificates will be provided to all event hosts at no additional cost to the current event fees and would add value to hosting your event with the USSBA. 

In some cases, many bands have been able to leverage the trophy situation to their benefit, raising hundreds of dollars by selling sponsorships of the individual trophies and the benefits of presentation to gracious donors in their communities. 

 “We do not wish to impact those bands who have ‘figured it out’ regarding trophies,” King said. “However, the vast majority see much needed revenue going to the purchase of trophies, rather than their own program.  We want to remove any stigma associated with not presenting trophies, while we protect the best interest of all bands.” 

Hopkins conceded in the conversation, “We do understand the importance of trophies overall, and as an organization we are willing to bear that financial responsibility for presenting awards at all of our Regional and National level events, so that parents, students and administrators have acknowledgement of their competitive achievements from some point during each season.”

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