‘Dash for Cash’ Made a Splash but Was Rash

Thom Weidlich 12.16.21


Have you ever had what you felt was a brilliant idea and then, when you make it a reality, get hit with an epiphany: What was I thinking? That seems to be what went down with the Sioux Falls Stampede junior hockey team, CU Mortgage Direct and their “Dash for Cash” event. At least they realized their mistake fairly quickly.

The South Dakota squad and the lending company, which supplied the cash, dreamed up a contest that took place on Sat., Dec. 11, during the first intermission of the match at the Stampede’s arena, the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. (Alas, the Stampede lost to the Tri-City Storm in a 3-2 shootout.)

The competition had 10 schoolteachers, wearing hockey helmets, battle for as much of $5,000 as they could grab by crawling on a rug at center ice and scooping up the one-dollar bills. The money was for their classroom activities. Each teacher collected between $378 and $616.

‘Hunger Games’

The event went viral on social media (where else?) and it didn’t take long for the criticisms to rain down, mostly that the spectacle was humiliating to educators. Comparisons were made to The Hunger Games. The word dystopia was invoked. Commenters noted that teachers in South Dakota are rather badly paid. “Dash for Cash” now has its own Wikipedia page.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted: “This just feels demeaning … teachers shouldn’t have to dash for dollars for classroom supplies … No doubt people probably intended it to be fun, but from the outside it feels terrible.”

By Monday afternoon, the team and the mortgage lender had a statement on the team’s website. “Although our intent was to provide a positive and fun experience for teachers, we can see how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole,” they wrote. “We deeply regret and apologize to all teachers for any embarrassment this may have caused.”

Making Amends

Most importantly, in terms of crisis response, the team and sponsor were making amends. They said they would give an additional $500 to each teacher (including 21 who vied unsuccessfully for a spot in the competition), plus another $15,500 to area educators. The team and mortgage company said they would continue to support North Dakota pedagogues, though, one would hope, in a more respectful fashion.

One negative: They ended their statement by saying “CU Mortgage Direct and the Stampede will have no further comment at this time.” We doubt that deterred media inquiries. One thing about crises: They’re hard to just bat away. They’re not hockey pucks.

Photo Credit: Sioux Falls Stampede via Facebook

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