How does a 100 Games Project come together? First, before Christmas, you have to get to as many Multi-Team Events as you can. Rack up games like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter. The next key benchmark is the halfway point; if you make 50 by early February, you're in pretty good shape. The magic number to reach on March 1 is 65. With shrewd conference tourney planning and pedal-metal travel, you can easily pick up 25 -- especially with the four-a-day quarterfinals. There are six in a first and second-round NCAA pod, and that leaves four from later rounds or other national postseason tournaments. Scoop 'em up, get it done. Voila: une centaine.
The hardest part, of course, is figuring out how to pay for it. The more miles involved, the more complicated the finances are. The first 100GP was cost-effective because it only left the Northeast Corridor for a single week. The next three and a half trips were underwritten by a large media company, who kindly and unwittingly underwrote Projects of 93, 119, and 116; more travel meant more interesting things there were to write about. Last season was completely reader-supported, primarily via no-strings donations. There were only 85 attended games in 2009-10, but we got a 600-page book out of it. so that worked out.
There's no underwriter -- corporate or otherwise -- for any of this, and TMM is as independent and idiosyncratic as we wanna be. We've been 100 percent crowdfunded since January 2009. Just like Wikipedia! This season, in an effort to create a concrete bridge between the readership and the site, we switched from a fuzzy-logic collection pot to a membership system, which was first detailed in last year's Epilogue. It's what a lot of not-for-profit entities do: give stuff away, then use the money not spent making that stuff on cost coverage. In our model, a $100 subscription nets about $60 after overhead. As we said all along, if there wasn't enough income to cover travel costs, we'd ease up and stay anchored.
The century-specific thumbnail I've used is that the road costs about $100 per day. That's been relatively constant since Season 1. The highest cost is lodging: a cheap hotel room (or a nice one on Hotwire) is about 50 bucks. A tank of gas -- for 300 miles or so of land-based travel -- costs about $25-$30, depending on market prices and politics. The rental cars cost about $15 per day these days. The food and the occasional plane ticket for repositioning purposes are offset by the occasional couch crash, so it evens out over time.
As of press time, 152 of the 200 memberships we needed to stay out on the road were sold, either directly or via scholarship. Given that gas is about a quarter a gallon more expensive than it was a year ago (blowing our original estimates), that pushes it down to around two-thirds of full travel. So it's been a matter of choosing which of the two thirds of the season to go with. I didn't know how to illustrate this properly in Powerpoint, so I hand-drew it for you.
We spent January making short runs around the Midwest, and we've already shuffled the schedule a number of times and even postponed the #ALLCAPSGAME. We're in the Northeast now, trying to conserve funds for March (and April) as best we can. It isn't really the kind of economy to sink personal funds into this, but that's been happening. I realize that kind of thing has kept some folks from contributing this year too. But travel in the postseason is somewhat of a non-negotiable issue, so we've locked up enough funds for that.
So. February, then.
How necessary is regular season travel? Is it important? Is the site "not as good" or "better" with it or without it? Do we "deserve" to go places? If you, the readership, decide en masse that having Bally and I going to games is not that big of a deal, we will have 28 days of maudlin sportswriting career retrospective and lots and lots of Northeast Conference and Ivy League games. (Avoiding a 67 Game Project on the last one is a matter of personal pride.) We're okay and fine with that. But! If you want to see us back out on the road and have been on the fence about supporting us, vote yes!
(UPDATE: "Kyle, I think your best bet is to go all-out with a Wikipedia-style appeal. I've attached a mock-up for you. I spent 5 minutes ... at work making this.")
That is plenty beautiful, but I'm not looking wistfully off into the distance or appearing concerned enough. And instead of giving you more of wiki-what you already had, we're going to go ahead and pile on more incentives.
The Season 8 thing is mostly to cover advance production costs for the fourth and final TMM book, but so begins the last Mid-Majority membership drive in site history. If you purchase a Season 7 Membership, you will not only receive (or gift) 1.One Beautiful Season, 2. 12 months of Basketball State, 3. a Bally Club card, an 4.As-You-Go Bracket and 5. a t-shirt (still to come)... you'll also get two more items, while supplies last.
6. Being a slow writer, I usually sketch out the structures of feature articles on paper first. The Bally cartoons are the same way. Before they're scanned and colored, they begin as pieces of paper with ink on them. Now you can own one of these for yourself, and thrill to the good and bad decisions that were made during cartoon construction. Some are even suitable for framing.
This offer will end on Friday evening (February 4), so that February plans can be made. After that, I'll shut up about it. Like, forever.
So there it is: seven things for Season 7. There's so much convergence, this site is glowing. If you're interested in helping us get out of the snowy Northeast, please use the support page or try the form below. Please note your top three choices of cartoon under "Special Instructions" after you click through, as well as which of the two other books you'd like, and if it's a gift. First come, first served, and we'll do that by PayPal's timestamp. If, for any reason, there is unavailability, you'll be promptly e-mailed and we can try something else.
And thank you all again for sticking around, as we try to make this final 100GP as interesting as possible.