Twitter users outraged after ‘sickening’ Sioux Falls Stampede event had teachers scramble for dollar bills

Twitter lit up with criticism surrounding an event that saw 10 teachers compete against each other to collect one dollar bills

Sioux Falls Stampede USHL Logo 2019.jpg

SIOUX FALLS — What was intended as an opportunity for the Sioux Falls Stampede to donate $5,000 to area teachers was met with outrage online, as Twitter users believe the donation’s methodology was “sickening” and “dystopian.”

On Saturday, 10 educators from the Sioux Falls area were invited to the ice during an intermission of a Sioux Falls Stampede game, where they were tasked with stuffing as many one dollar bills into their shirt as possible, while competing against one another in a game dubbed “Dash for Cash.”

“The United States is a dystopian hell. These are underpaid teachers in South Dakota, being told to get on their knees and fight other educators for cash in front of an audience,” said Twitter user @joeywreck .

In under two days since video of the event was posted online by reporters with the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, nearly 2,500 Twitter users from across the globe had shared their overwhelmingly negative thoughts.


“It’s bad enough teachers have to beg for the most basic class resources or buy them with their own money,” Twitter user @CatKnit593 pointed out , “but to have them be humiliated like this for ‘fun’ is sickening.”

Jason Cole, a fourth year social studies teacher at Rapid City Stevens High School, shares in the anger of many Twitter users, but notes the Stampede aren’t at fault.

“The Stampede are only a symptom of the long running sickness that is education in South Dakota. I don’t blame them or the bank that decided this would be the best way to get money into classrooms,” Cole said. “The Stampede are a form of entertainment, so that is how they approached the situation. I feel terrible for the teachers that had to put on a show to fund their classrooms.”

He believes the event serves as a real-life example of late-stage capitalism, and wishes more people had a better idea of the tenuous track to becoming a teacher.

“ I would love to have the detractors of the state’s educators to get a glimpse at how frustrating and seemingly impossible it has become to be a teacher,” Cole said.

Loren Paul, president of the South Dakota Education Association, pointed out that while the Dash for Cash may have meant well, it highlights some of the issues teachers in South Dakota face.


“While the Dash for Cash may have been well intentioned, it only underscores the fact that educators don’t have the resources necessary to meet the needs of their students,” Paul said. “As a state, we shouldn’t be forcing teachers to wrestle one another to get the money they need to educate our children.”

While noting that the average teacher spends about $750 out-of-pocket on their classrooms , Paul agreed with Cole, pointing out that the root issue of the controversial event lies at the feet of the government, not the Stampede.

“These are unprecedented times for South Dakota’s students, educators and schools. Too many open positions have led to schools not being able to offer students the full services they deserve and have placed an unsustainable workload on educators,” Paul said. “Now, more than ever, state leaders must deliver the resources schools need to attract and retain quality and caring educators.”

According to Paul, educators are professionals who are willing to go above and beyond for their students, but he argues that all levels of government should demonstrate respect toward teachers by ensuring funding — something Noem indicates she’d like to make progress on in her latest budget address.

“We truly appreciate Governor Noem’s proposed 6 percent increase to state aid for public education,” Paul said. “This is just the beginning of our work to ensure that state leaders understand the needs of students and educators and why such a significant increase is so important.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, alongside South Dakota Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch, left, and Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden give an applause to Chief of Finance Liza Clark while Noem delivers her budget address on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 in the house chambers inside the state capitol in Pierre. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade


South Dakota ranks 50th in the nation in teacher pay — leading only Mississippi — with an average salary of $48,984, according to the National Education Association’s 2021 report .

“Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. Good educators will use those as a teachable moment – Dash for the Cash is one of those teachable moments,” Paul concluded. “We can do better for our students by making sure their teachers have the supplies their students need to learn.”

In an effort to drum up donations “that doesn’t involve sending [teachers] to a hockey rink,” Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) shared a link to the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation.

Of the 10 teachers that partook, three hailed from the Sioux Falls School District, and one participated from Brandon Valley, Centerville, Dell Rapids, Harrisburg, LifeScape, Madison and Yankton. Winnings ranged from $378 to $619.

The Sioux Falls School District declined to comment.

Though the Sioux Falls Stampede did not return multiple requests for comment — and even removed their media contact information from their website — they released a statement approximately 20 minutes after the initial publication of this article.

"Although our intent was to provide a positive and fun experience for teachers, we can see how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole," their statement read. "We deeply regret and apologize to all teachers for any embarrassment this may have caused."

The statement said the promotion, in conjunction with CU Mortgage Direct, saw 31 applicants, of which 10 were selected. Those 10 all left with a minimum of $500.


"Together with CU Mortgage Direct we will be providing an additional $500 to those teachers that participated in the event as well as providing $500 to those additional 21 applicants that were not able to participate," the statement continued. "In total, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct will contribute an additional $15,500 to area teachers."

The Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct say that, moving forward, they will continue to support teachers and will work with the SD Teachers Association on future events that will provide funding for the next generation.

Both entities will not be making further comments at this time.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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