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Time To Talk In Detail About The Challenges/Expenses Of The HSSR Sponsoring All-State Banquets In SC

Time To Talk In Detail About The Challenges/Expenses Of The HSSR Sponsoring All-State Banquets In SC

4-29-2021 From HSSR Publisher Billy G. Baker

Moncks Corner--Many parents and coaches have e-mailed, or phoned the HSSR over the past two weeks (mid-April) wanting to know the HSSR’s plans for a fall football banquet, a fall non-football banquet, a winter all-state banquet for basketball & wrestling and finally a Spring all-state awards banquet during the month of June.

The HSSR recently visited with Cal Seawell, the manager of Seawell’s Catering in Columbia. The HSSR has been doing banquet business with Seawells for over 30 years, and they do a first-class job helping us conduct what we are told are some of the best all-state recognition events for our hard-working student athletes anywhere in the nation. It is our goal at the HSSR to sponsor several banquets in June but we need input from all involved before we announce and schedule banquets for this current school year. Seawells have made several dates available to us in June.

Cal (Seawell) explained that the SC Basketball Coaches Association had held a major banquet at Seawells in early April with 550 people in attendance. He said the event went off with no major problems and that he felt comfortable catering HSSR banquets, but with a seating limit of around 600 people factoring in social distancing guidelines between tables.

This might work out okay (but not ideal) for the Winter and Spring banquets, but it poses a major problem for an all-state football banquet where the HSSR usually averages between 950 and 1,100 people. The HSSR would have to break up the football banquet into one session for the SCHSL honorees, and another session for the SCISA honorees. In our 36 years of sponsoring banquets, we have never been faced with a situation of dealing with a Pandemic; thankfully conditions are improving all the time, with the vaccine now available to everyone. This situation would mean having to pay two college speakers also to serve as keynote speakers.

Another sincere challenge is that with the Pandemic hurting many small businesses the HSSR does not have a reserve fund anymore to kick-in to help pay for banquets when they do not pay for themselves through guest ticket sales and booster clubs sponsoring reserved tables. For the first time, as the Publisher of the HSSR, I would like to explain in great detail, the expenses the HSSR incurs with banquets so you will fully understand the financial challenges confronting the publication at this time. If you would like to give your feedback, or share any ideas with the HSSR after reading this, please send us an e-mail at hsreport@aol.com

One solution is that the HSSR finally needs to seek a few corporate sponsors solely to help defray banquet expenses. We have avoided this at banquets, for the most part, because we do not want to put business logos on student-athletes/honored coaches’ trophies and awards. We can hang company banners at the banquet, provide advertising recognition, in all of our 50,000 annual printed copies of the HSSR and even brand a company’s logo in the Mast Head of the HSSR companion web site at hssr.com.  In 2019, the last complete year for all varsity sports in SC, the hssr.com web site received nearly one million home page hits. Perhaps some parents with all-state honorees are tied in to leadership positions at major companies around the state. This would be an ideal time to talk to the” boss” (or yourself) about your company supporting the HSSR all-state banquets, especially if they offer goods and services consumed by teenagers, or if they do business with schools in the state of South Carolina.

Here is an explanation of our banquet costs & why the HSSR has had to charge $50 for guest tickets in recent years in order just to break even (with slight losses) on sponsoring banquets. Here we go and please read carefully:

***A catered two-meat buffet with vegetables, dessert and tea cost the HSSR around $20 per person. We have always fed all honorees (students and coaches) for free and we plan to continue doing this with any future banquet(s).

***We pay speaking fees to all keynote college coaches. This can cost between $500 to $1,000 per speaker.

***Our awards are of high quality, and quality comes at a price. Each individual all-state award, including engraving, averages between $20 and $28 each. Most Players of the Year or Coaches of the Year awards average between $40 and $65 each. The HSSR Mr. Baseball award, which is six-foot tall, with real wooden bats, averages over $200!

***When the HSSR awards are shipped via one or two large cargo vans from Pennsylvania the shipping charges always fall between $600 and $1,000 depending on the size of the banquet. The HSSR pays cash on delivery.

***We need around 8 people to work 12-14 hours (Saturday & Sunday) inside the banquet Hall, the day before a banquet, helping to unload the van(s), unpack all the awards, help with the placing of name plates on all awards etc. Most of these staff members and volunteers return to work the banquet on Sunday. The expense for “set up” and organization of the vast awards table runs between $1,500 and $2,000 for most every banquet factoring in all 8 people’s valuable help.  

***Every honoree (student and coach) receives a keepsake comp tee shirt, noting the event and the keynote speaker on the front. HSSR Cost: $5 per shirt.

***The HSSR always prints a “Banquet Souvenir Publication” that is available for all the honorees and guests to take home. This issue is normally 64 to 72 pages and requires a graphics person to work 22 to 28 hours putting it together, and then we have to print it as well. Total production and print cost on the banquet issue alone is between $1,200 and $1,600 per banquet.

****The HSSR does you one or two of our marketing reps for limited marketing to the schools with each banquet and they are paid a 20 per cent commission on their sales which is another expense we have with banquets.   

****One additional expense that can not be measured as easily, is the time spent by me and my one full time Administrative Assistant, for three 50–70-hour work weeks, prior to a banquet being held. Over this period, we are mailing out honoree’s invitations, answering several hundred e-mails, several hundred phone calls with parents & schools ordering tickets, and answering varied questions about the event. During this three-week period the Publisher has little time to cover live sporting events out in the field, or visit sponsors when they come up for renewal in the HSSR once a year. So, with three major statewide banquets a year the HSSR Publisher is literally a part time employee of Seawells and the West Art awards company for around 9 weeks a year with 90 per cent of the banquet revenues raised paying the catering and the awards company.

So, let’s talk about cost analysis and revenues versus expenses and when you read this you will truly understand the need for corporate sponsors in order to maintain the HSSR high quality statewide all-state awards banquets.

+++++So, one honoree attends the banquet (always free) with one paid guest ($50). The HSSR is expensed right at $40 by Seawells to feed two people. If the honoree is an all-state honoree, they get an award and a comp tee shirt expensed between $25 and $33. When you factor in all the other real expenses (aforementioned) you can easily understand why the HSSR, or anyone trying to sponsor a first-class all-state awards banquet, would have difficulty paying for everything under this current revenue stream. Even when an honoree brings two paid guests ($100) the HSSR now pays out $60 for three meals, and when you factor in the cost of the award and the tee shirt, you have very little margin to break even, especially with all of your other associated costs putting on a banquet.  We are very thankful for schools like Dillon, Dorman, Lake View, Summerville, etc. who sponsor reserved tables ($500) for up to 10 guests at all of the HSSR banquets where they have three or more honorees.  These guest tickets are shared with parents of the honorees which is a nice gesture from certain schools and it allows many parents to be able to attend the banquet basically “free of charge” as well.

So, now that you have read the HSSR “Basic 101” Banquet expenses of putting on banquets I am going to ask you to walk a mile in the HSSR shoes and give us any suggestions for being able to put on three all-state banquets over a two-week period from mid-June to the end of June.

I truly feel like the HSSR is going to have to land one or two major corporate Banquet sponsors (by May, 15) who market products to teenagers. or schools, or just feel the need to help keep the great tradition of the HSSR banquets growing and going. Please let us know if your company might be able to take out a sponsorship for the banquets. They will be recognized in all 50,000 annual copies of the HSSR publication and on our website at hssr.com   

Thanks for any advice and your comments are welcomed.

Sincerely—HSSR Founder & Publisher Billy G. Baker

Cell: 843-200-9555

E: mail hsreport@aol.com


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