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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Teen's Nike Deal Reveals Out-of-Whack Priorities

May 30, 2003

Re "Taking Off With a Swoosh," editorial, May 24: It is amazing to me that so much attention and money are being given to this talented young man, LeBron James, when so many other worthy young adults struggle to pay for student loans every year. James must have one awesome jump shot to be signing $90-million contracts with shoe companies when, at the same time, my father and mother's combined income is $22,000 a year. That is $4,000 above the poverty line in the U.S., yet they are expected to support a family of five and send a child to college on this humble income.

It is a disgrace that my parents' backbreaking work is valued so little. And honestly, when would any average college graduate ever make so much?

How will miracle stories like James' encourage the next generation of high school students to attend college when they dream of making millions by becoming professional basketball players? I wonder how our society ever got to the point that pro athletes made more money a year than the president. There needs to be a reevaluation of who should receive the high incomes.

Melissa Olague

Santa Barbara

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I always avoid buying clothing that displays a brand name. I prefer nonflashy clothes, but I also can't see why anyone would want to wear advertising for a clothing manufacturer. It's also possible that I am just cheap. I don't feel the need to spend more money to help Michael Jordan earn a few extra bucks.

But the LeBron James deal for $90 million with Nike raises the stakes to really absurd levels. If James becomes a star in the NBA and Nike sells a million pairs of sneakers with his name on them, does that mean that each pair will be marked up by an extra $90 to cover this contract? But on second thought, if I bought the LeBron sneakers instead of my $30 sneakers, I could probably dunk, right?

John Vasi

Santa Barbara

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