Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Not So Plus Moment

I would love to have an art room someday, a place to both create and display art. With this idea in mind, I often visit Pictures Plus in order to envision such a room. Every once in a long while, I’ll buy an art print from them. They carry a few artists whose works I enjoy.

During a recent walk in Waikīkī, I discovered an art gallery owned by one of those artists, and as I am very cautious about money, I’ll probably be spending less time roaming around Pictures Plus.

That being the case, I do want to say something about a recent event hosted by Pictures Plus. I have no desire to draw customers to or from their store; I was just a little disappointed or unsatisfied with the way they handled the event and hope that they would do a better job if they have the event again.

A former UH Football player, Na Koa member, and owner of Pictures Plus, Kent Untermann had good intentions, I presume, behind holding a weekend of autograph sessions with current senior UH Football Warriors. Four sessions were held from last Thursday to Sunday. It was the first time that UH fans were asked to pay for the autographs. Pictures Plus also sold a lot of memorabilia things for the fans to have signed by the players.

I watched the news coverage of the sessions. On Thursday, it was reported that the signings would be at the Kahala Mall Pictures Plus. The fees would be $2.50 and $5.00 (some players’ autograph would be for $2.50 while others would be the five) per autograph and $20 for Brennan’s autograph, should he make an appearance.

Friday and Saturday’s sessions were in Waikīkī with Sunday’s session back at Kahala. Friday reported that prices were $5 each and that Brennan would be at the Sunday session. The $5 broke down to $2.50 to the player, $0.50 to Na Koa, and the remaining went to organizing the event. Brennan’s Hancock would be $20-$30, of which he would receive $15 himself.

Friday’s report also had Untermann explaining the reason behind the event. He said that, having been an athlete himself, he wanted to help out the players that have just graduated or used up their eligibility. Those players would be trying to find jobs and starving; that’s not a direct quote but sums up the thought. So that’s good, looking out for our players.

Untermann also mentioned how such memorabilia previously signed by the Warriors for free are currently being sold on EBay for a huge profit with the Warriors seeing nothing from those sales.

And Sunday, Brennan did indeed wear out his hand in autographs.

The part that did not sound right is assigning different prices for different players’ signatures. I would not feel very appreciated being one of the $2.50 players. It’s not about greed or jealousy, but this UH FB team has always maintained that they were all ohana, every person important, every person doing his part. I understand Brennan commanding a higher price, but other than that I don’t see the justification for having two different prices for the rest of the team. Whether the full price went directly to charity, to supporting the UH program, or went full or partially to the player would not matter.

In any way, the $2.50 player is showing up just like the others and raising less money for whatever reason. No explanation was given, that I know of, for why a certain player would garner the $2.50 price or the $5.

And events like this should directly, from the start, clearly say to where or whom the money goes.

As for Untermann’s explanation for the event in the first place, there’s a flaw in it. I’m going to say that the football players have the intelligence and the skills and anything else they would need to succeed inside and outside of football. Most of all, they would have the support of their family and friends. This 2007 team especially would have the support from the community of fans here if they ever need any help.

And I am sure Brennan wouldn’t mind giving all the profit from these sessions to Na Koa or the program and such. With prospects of a good draft position, I’m pretty confident that he would not be strapped for cash anytime soon, nor would any other of the players who make it in the NFL.

While I’m on the subject of Brennan, these autograph sessions did not take proper care of his fans here. To not guarantee that Brennan would show up was not the right thing to do. Yes, they gave some kind of voucher to those who came on Thursday hoping to see Brennan there, but with how greatly the fans appreciate and enjoy Brennan, one should have a schedule worked out with him to guarantee his fans the moment with him. At least they confirmed on Friday that Brennan would be there Sunday, but the Thursday and perhaps the Friday expectation of Brennan was not right.

All of this criticism is not on the players one bit. They were not the ones who coordinated or asked for this event to take place. I’m sure they do not care about the money so much as to be there for their fans.

I applaud the Warriors who came out to the sessions and spent time with the Hawai‘i fans. Mahalo for an amazing season and may more be on the way!