These People Want Your Money considers the merits of sports-themed crowdfunding projects using only the information provided by those parties who are requesting your hard-earned cash.
Project: INCLUSION: The Future of Table Tennis, on Kickstarter
Cash ask: $30,000
Concept: Plexiglass walls (with net) that can be affixed to the sides of a ping-pong table to create a new three-dimensional playing surface—and, in turn, a whole new sport, sort of. The product "combines Table Tennis and Racquetball to create a newly dynamic, fast-paced playing experience."
Creator: Marco Santini, one of two friends who, back in high school, got creative after becoming frustrated by a cramped ping-pong table, and then got ambitious with said creativity. The 2007 graduate of Brown University has worked in marketing, branding and the like, and also plays drums in the band SWEET FIX. (Here's this if you curious.)
Worth funding? Well, it's a cool idea. Let's start there. Table tennis plus walls is a lot of fun, and so are various ping-pong-table-based college drinking games plus walls. But therein lies the problem: How could I possibly know that walled ping-pong is fun without owning the Inclusion apparatus?
Because you can make Inclusion on your own! Slide your ping-pong table up against a wall just like those restless high school kids did! Or grab a couple pieces of plywood, or turn two tables on their sides! Granted, the snug fit and smooth, uniform surface of the Inclusion apparatus can't be replicated, but your walled-in table tennis experience won't suffer too appreciably if you choose to embrace your own resourcefulness over buying some branded plastic. After all, the merits of any invention that amounts to ... some boards ... seem questionable.
Hell, do you even really need a ping pong table? Just use any regular table. You don't even need that. Play off the floor. Just draw a net across your basement and make use of whatever furniture, electronics, and empty pizza boxes occupy the playing surface. Go outside and have a rally in the street. Cars and pedestrians are in play. Now THAT's a dynamic playing experience.
The lowest donation that gets you any tangible reward is the $10 "Supporter" level; it earns you three Inclusion-branded tennis balls. Your call on that one, but I'll say this: $10 could also get you a couple solid boards and, thus, your very own bootleg Inclusion system.