‘Barrel of Booze’ high school bowling raffle unacceptable

Does raffling a wheelbarrow of booze sound like an appropriate high school sports fund-raiser to you? It certainly doesn’t to me.

Much to my disbelief, that is exactly what is being done for the Rockford Guilford and Jefferson high school bowling teams.

Let me assure you, I am neither a prude, nor a Grinch trying to kill this fund-raiser. However, I do think this booze raffle is totally inappropriate for a high school sports team. If it were for the Moose Club or the retired men’s group at one of our local employers, I would have even purchased the tickets. But I would not, and hope that no one else does, for a group of teen-agers. According to Guilford bowling coach Brad Sommer, “This is no different than a casino night for a church or for the Rockford Marlins Swim Club.” He also added, “The tickets were only being sold by adults and only to adults.”

I wonder how he can be so sure.

Yes, it is different. Police don’t set up mock casinos at the area schools around prom time to show the dangers of gambling. That’s because high school students don’t die from casino nights. Unfortunately, they do die from alcohol-related events. Either drinking too much themselves, or as a result of someone else’s over-consumption. There are numerous horror stories about such tragedies. I’ve yet to hear a story about a high school student dying as a result of a casino night. Mr. Sommer, there is a huge difference.

Phone calls to Guilford’s principal and athletic director were not returned at press time. Dr. Kenneth Jackson, the principal at Jefferson, was shocked when I asked him if he knew this was being done. He said, “Oh, my God, I had no idea this was going on.” He thanked me for bringing it to his attention, and assured me he would “check into this further.”

I’m appalled that someone or some group of people thought this was a good idea. I can’t imagine someone saying, “Hey, let’s raffle off a wheelbarrow full of booze to raise money for the high school bowling teams!” What is even more difficult to imagine is someone else saying, “That’s a great idea! Let’s do it.”

Mr. Sommer, there are better things to raffle off than a wheelbarrow full of booze. Especially when you are doing it to benefit a group of adolescents. Might I suggest raffling off a more age-appropriate item, such as a computer, or big-screen television or anything other than liquor. If you take my suggestion, please let me know—I would be happy to purchase the first tickets.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Dec. 27, 2006-Jan. 2, 2007, issue

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