Refocusing the U.S. Parachute Team Sponsorship Program

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This past July, the USPA Board of Directors unanimously approved two motions with the goal of finding corporate sponsorship for the United States Parachute Team.

Initially, we had in mind the idea that current and former U.S. Team members and other highly qualified skydivers would perform at air shows on behalf of the U.S. Parachute Team Inc.—a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization—primarily to gain the attention of potential corporate sponsors. The team’s availability would have been announced at the upcoming ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) Convention. From the profits earned, the U.S. Parachute Team Inc. would have reimbursed USPA for the seed money and expense of supporting the team.

What we weren’t able to predict was the opposition of some of our members to the idea. Some saw that the USPA would be helping the U.S. Team compete with demo teams for air show business. While all along corporate sponsorship was the goal and air shows the means to get there, nevertheless, we heard the members’ concerns and acted.

After a conference call with the Competition and Executive Committees, we agreed to refocus the plan away from ICAS and take a more direct approach to corporate sponsorship that we think will alleviate members’ concerns and still benefit the U.S. Team. While the initial seed money remains available, it will be invested into producing a sponsorship proposal and attending the IEG (website HERE) convention in March. Here, the U.S. Parachute Team will be presented as the team that represents the United States in Olympic-caliber competitions. With this redirect, we intend to build an identity for the U.S. Team and present a case for its value to corporate sponsors. This proposal will be presented and discussed at the board meeting in February. We will welcome discussion from USPA members at that time, as well.

For those who keep track of the motions by the board and its committees, both the Competition and Executive Committees approved the following interim motion:

“Move to modify the ‘U.S. Parachute Team Sponsorship Development Program’ so that we will not be attending ICAS this year and that the money allocated to it will first be used toward generating corporate sponsorship for the U.S. Parachute Team.”

We value the feedback from each of our members and hope to continue receiving your support and concerns. Together we can continue following USPA’s purpose of promoting safe skydiving, ensuring skydiving’s rightful place on airports and in the airspace system and promoting competition and record-setting programs.

Jay Stokes
President, USPA Board of Directors

6 Responses to “Refocusing the U.S. Parachute Team Sponsorship Program”

  1. Jim Twardowski Says:

    I would like to thank the members of the USPA board of directors for listening to the concerns of the membership and taking the appropriate action regarding this issue.

    ~Jim Twardowski
    USPA#8899

  2. H Walter Green Says:

    I too commend this decsion. Now, let’s consider interim funding for the US Team, of which I am so proud! I, like many members did not realize that the US Team was in need of reliable funding above and beyond the contributions of members at time of renewal. When I renew this month, I will be sure to contribute to the US Team.

    I would request the idea of a modest dues increase, earmarked for the US Team, be vetted to the general membership in the next Parachutist magazine. An invitaion to discuss the idea, and encourage comments from members to consider this increase,

    Then, after this comment period, the acceptability of this could be assessed. If it is substantially favorable, then a (example $2.00) increase in membership dues, and a $1.00 increase in rating remewals. Both would be presented in the membership renewal forms as items that the member could opt out of, and the wording could read that” I do not wish to contribute the $2.00 to the US Team”, and same wording for the rating renewal $1.00.

    I believe most members, and rating holders would pay, and not opt out; but those who feel strongly negative, could. If even half of our members paid this dues increase, it could go along way to provide interim team funding until the sponsorship we seek is found, and wold only be done after a comment period. Of course, If the comments are sustantially negative, then the BOD would table the idea, and look for other solutions.

    H Walter Green
    #18426

  3. Jeremy Olexa Says:

    “I would request the idea of a modest dues increase” <- I would vehemently oppose a dues increase. I already pay enough for dues and rating renewals.

  4. H Walter Green Says:

    There’s an opt out if a member feels they don’t want to fund the uS Team. No need to be vehement. If it’s not for you-so be it. I think the USPA dues and our organization are reasonable, considering (for one example of a benefit) what it does for us in the governmental area. But, this is my opinion.

  5. Brian Pangburn Says:

    I have been fortunate enough to been able to compete on the US Parachute team since 2003. Having brought home the gold for the US from the last four world meets has been one of my greatest life’s achievements and I feel it is a great honor to be able to represent the United States and the skydving community.

    Now after being exposed to the world of skydiving for the last two decades I have observed some great inequalities. The United States is one of the few countries who does not receive much funding from their government. Some countries field military teams and some (like France) have their parachuting federation sponsor their teams to represent their countries. So far in the past decade our team has been very fortunate in obtaining sponsorship from drop zones and aircraft owners – and without their continued sponsorship we would never have been able to financially achieve our goals and bring the gold home for the United States. We are very grateful for these sponsors and what they have been able to provide for us.

    But even with the sponsorship we have been able obtain there are still many holes that we need to address. Most world meet registrations and travel expenses run us between $4,000 – $5,000. We also experience domestic travel expenses to get to these sponsored drop zones for practice. Some years we are able to arrange demo jumps or other fund raising opportunities and one year we even broke even but for the most part we are left trying to work around our practice and competition schedules in a never ending attempt to pay off that Mastercard. Most teams I know of need to hold fund raising activities to help repay some of the drop zone sponsorship and to help offset these expenses.

    The US Parachute Tam Trust Fund was set up to help with this and every year continues to grow. The fund is an excellent idea and a wonderful way to help us offset our expenses. But most years the fund allocations only cover about 5 – 10% of our expenses. This initiative to have the USPA help the US team raise funding is an absolute wonderful idea to help the United States be competitive in the world of skydiving. To a lot of skydivers skydiving is just a hobby – but to many of us who have been in pursuit of gold, this quest we have instilled upon ourselves, it is our way of life. We have had to sacrifice so many things from almost every aspect of our lives in order to be successful. We have sacrificed relationships, careers, friendships, our standard of living, and even our retirement dreams. I could only imagine what it would be like to have more time… more time for training, more time for a personal life, more time for anything. Having a few more dollars allocated to the US teams would allow for this. Instead of working every extra hour to scrape by and try to pay off that Mastercard that time could be used more effectively.

    I understand that the US team is less than 1% of the total USPA membership. I also understand that nobody has forced any of us to choose this life style and all of us chose to head down this path on our own. But by giving the USPA the support to help us raise the money is a great step in helping the United States stay a major force in the world of skydiving. I think having a check box on the USPA annual renewal to donate an extra $5 is a great idea. I think having the USPA being able to solicit major sponsors to help obtain funding opportunities is a great idea. I don’t think any US skydiver enjoys watching other countries take the podium slots and since we live in the type of economic country we do I feel we need a mechanism to help us get to where we need to be. I urge any members of the USPA to be open to help our cause – nobody wants to see the annual dues increase for no reason. But the USPA has not been asking for a dues increase they have been proposing partnerships with corporations. We should be supporting their efforts to do so. Many times we can create a win/win relationship for the USPA, corporation, and the US Team. This should be one of these opportunities.

    Brian Pangburn
    USPA# 83803

    • Anonymous Says:

      Mr Pangburn. I totally agree with your position. Since it is in USPA’S Charter to support and field a US Team, I suggest the dues be raised $5, and an” opt out” be provided for those who do not want to support our team. …..along with the quoted statement that the USPA is obligated by Charter to field a team of US Competitors. Until that Charter/Mission Statement is changed, a dues increase is reasonable. I would also impose a one dollar increase in Ratings fees, with a similar opt out. It is time we all get serious about funding our US Team! Walt Green. Member and rating holder.

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