Ann Bednarski: Two star athletes

LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, two young star athletes, handle their fame and fortune in different ways. Recently Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the singing of our National Anthem at a widely televised football game. He was highly criticized and chose to further speak out about oppressed people and police targeting of black people. Both Colin and LeBron are famous people with enormous talent and ... financially and professionally successful. Though no one is denying his right to express his opinion, Kaepernick’s method of doing so took advantage of the organization that supports him and has helped further his career.

I was surprised and disappointed. Does he not realize the singing of our National Anthem is a long-standing tradition at the beginning of sporting events? He’s idolized by many for his talent as a quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers football team. He is paid millions of dollars to perform. Colin Kaepernick is a member of an elite group. I think he will experience consequences for his actions.

LeBron James, a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star and superhero like Kaepernick have different attitudes about their success and financial success. LeBron James chooses to give back to the communities of Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. He sponsors programs for children and only recently became the producer of a program called “Cleveland Hustles.”

The program helps young people start businesses in depressed areas of Cleveland. I have seen two of the productions in the last few weeks. They exude the essence of America helping each other succeed. Investors choose small businesses to get started by offering them an opportunity to set up a “pop-up” store within 72 hours. That requirement explains why the program is called “Cleveland Hustles.” One program had a hair dresser whose shop had burned down competing with a bagel company that was gaining popularity but had not been able to open a shop. These two started their company in an apartment where one of them lived. Seventy two hours to design and stock a store was a most formidable challenge.

Last night I watched another Cleveland Hustles program. The two “companies” vying for an investor in their company were a young man from Akron who makes honey, candles, and some cosmetic products from honey. The same conditions, 72 hours to set up, a specific goal in sales on the pop-up day. He was competing with a woman who makes leather purses, duffle bags, and carry-on luggage. She was asked to create a carry-on bag that was moderately priced and sell five of them during the seven store hours.

Both contestants worked hard; it was exciting to watch. They had to make cabinetry, and design a shop, stock it all within a 72-hour period. The bag woman was asked to sell $1,500 during the contest; the honey man was asked to sell $800 in that time. Both far exceeded the goal; honey sold $1,300; leather sold $6,000. The investor chose to ignore his own rule and offered each money to start up their business. The “Akron Honey” man declined stating he has a family and they came first; the commute to Cleveland takes about an hour each way and though he was thrilled, he said he could not do it at this time. To my surprise and joy I was so pleased the investor asked him to contact him when he was ready. I know he will succeed; his priorities are in the right place.

I went to sleep happy and hopeful. The program airs on Wednesday, 10 p.m. on CNBC. Perhaps Colin Kaepernick would benefit from following LeBron James’ way of being a role model.

Ann Bednarski is a Carson City resident.


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