Friday, September 16, 2011


The biggest rivalry in Greensboro area high schools is Grimsley versus Page. Grimsley is located a little more than a mile from the restaurant and Page is about a ten minute drive away. As a result, we get lots of students from both schools, particularly on Wednesday. That day is All-you-can-eat Buttermilk pancake day. Yep, load 'til you explode or slop 'til you drop for only $2.49 per person.

We are a corporate sponsor for the Grimsley football team. That means that we furnish the pre-game meal for the team for one game. I chose to feed the team before the Page game.

This year, I decided that we should expand what we do for the big game. So I thought that we would stage a pancake eating contest on the Wednesday before the game. We would have three representatives from each team and give them five minutes to eat as many pancakes as possible. The winning team would get a plaque and a donation to their athletic fund. In addition, we could get some media coverage that would benefit both programs and the restaurant. Sounds like a winner, right??

I spoke to the Grimsley coach and he was all for it. A friend who teaches at Page spoke to the Athletic Director there and told me to give the AD a call. No problem. I called the AD and spoke to him. He needed a written proposal to run by his folks. I promptly e-mailed him the details. I waited for a reply, and waited, and waited..........

TEN days later, I e-mailed an inquiry into the status of the alleged decision making process. At least this time, I received a response. They were concerned that the time of the contest would interfere with football practice. He also questioned whether Grimsley had agreed to that time for the contest.

I responded promptly and pointed out that the time for the contest was set as a time that it could be done at the restaurant. I also pointed out that we only needed three(3) players for the contest. I was sure that they had three guys that they could spare for thirty minutes. Apparently, I was wrong. Is everybody on that team crucial to practice? Do they not practice if three guys are out sick? Surely there are three scrubs somewhere on that roster. If not, how about going to the lunchroom, watch people eat, and pick out three ringers to send. It's not like we were going to check eater eligibility before the contest.

In his e-mail questioning the time, the AD copied the coach and AD at Grimsley with his questions about their agreeing with the contest time. A few hours later, the Grimsley AD sent a terse reply, "Grimsley is in!" I thought that given the intensity of the rivalry, Page would quickly agree. Wrong again!!

FIVE days later I received an e-mail from Page telling me that they couldn't participate because of the conflict with practice time. Okay.

What did I learn from this experience? First, "Educator" may be a misnomer in some cases. Second, despite the continual appeals from the school system for community involvement, their people are not prepared to deal with businesses trying to get involved. Third, "Think outside the box" is not a phrase widely used in the school system.

Why should the schools have participated? It was a fun event that many of their students would have enjoyed. I was offering a trophy and a donation to the winning school's athletic fund. It was a chance for the schools to "expand their brand". It was a chance to make it about more than a football game. It was an opportunity for favorable media coverage for both programs. It was a chance to start a new tradition.  All down the tubes because there weren't three guys available for thirty minutes!

But there is a happy ending. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Grimsley AD suggesting that we have the contest among representatives of each of the fall sports at Grimsley. I called him and agreed to that. Since Grimsley starts school later on Wednesday morning, we are going to do that at 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday. They are working it into their "Spirit Week" schedule.
GO Whirlies!!!


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