JOSHUA SUNG, Plainsboro, N.J.
WELL, OF COURSE you're asking other people to pay your expenses: That's what a fund-raiser does. Similarly, when you receive a solicitation letter from the Red Cross or the A.S.P.C.A. or a political candidate, you're being asked to help pay somebody's expenses. And like those groups, you're not forcing anyone to contribute.
Those you appeal to can decide whether your team is a worthy cause. Some people may donate out of altruism; others because they believe youth sports benefit the entire community, not just the athletes themselves. But as long as your fundraiser is legal, transparent, and free from conflicts of interest and unreasonable pressure on potential donors, there's no ethical bar to any family's participation.
There is, however, an argument against this kind of financing: It undermines the idea that sports should be part of the school budget, paid for out of public funds. Your team's actions could encourage local officials to rely on private money. Hence your fund-raising may have short-term benefits but threaten school sports in the long run.
(The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 143, September 6, 2010)