Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Truth Shall Set You Free

When I was a young lad, my father would give me money for every "A" that I received. As you may have guessed, I'm too awesome to need a financial incentive to do well in school. However, it sure didn't hurt. Every quarter I'd happily place my report card on the fridge and think about which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure to buy. So I guess the incentive concept worked.

Last Thursday, Pat Smith bought raffle tickets for his twin boys at a local Minnesota All-Star hockey game. The winner of the contest would receive a chance to shoot the puck from center ice into a miniature "goal" that was a mere half inch wider than the puck itself. Nate Smith decided to not put his name down because he was suffering from an arm injury (dumb). He instructed Dad to put the name of his twin brother, Nick, on the tickets. Thinking that it was impossible to win, Nick decided to leave his seat shortly before halftime (dumbER). Of course, Nick was then announced as the contest winner. Nate, arm injury be damned, made his way to center ice. The kid calmly wristed (oh snap! hockey term!) an 89-foot shot into the mini-goal, winning FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS.

The next day, Dad got cold feet. He called the event's organizers and admitted that Nate posed as his twin brother Nick. As I write this, the powers-that-be still have not made a decision. And to make matters worse, this money was supposed to be donated by an insurance company. I can already hear them laughing about how flippin sweet this is. Not only do they have a ready-made contract exclusion that allows them not to pay up, but the potential beneficiary of the funds brought it to their attention. Can't make that stuff up! Of course, they might end up paying the money anyway to avoid bad PR, but who knows? It's been five days (aka an eternity) since the kid got his fifteen minutes of fame. During that time, the company has failed to return calls from several news outlets, including bigwigs like ABC News.

If the company doesn't pay up, or if local hero and event attendee Zach Parise doesn't sub in, the real issue is how this affects the kids going forward. An incentive only truly works if there isn't any backlash to performing the desired event. What possible backlash could there be for getting good grades? You could say that some kids made fun of me for being smart (relatively), but they're probably the same dudes who bag my groceries, pump my gas (NJ only!), and try to sell me stuff over the phone at dinner time. I think I won that war.

Honesty is a great thing. I know that because I used to lie about everything. But none of those lies cost me 50 large. I hope that the Smith twins grow up to be successful human beings. God forbid they go to college, graduate with 200K+ debt, and drive the Zamboni at the same All-Star game in 10-15 years. Pat Smith, you might have effed this one up.

UPDATE: The aforementioned insurance company, due to "contractual breaches and legal implications," will not be paying Nate or Nick the $50,000. It will, however, donate 20Gs to Minnesota youth hockey. This couldn't have been more predictable.