17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Back To School Sale
I heard on NPR the other day that Stephon Marbury, star guard for the NY Knicks, has his name on a new pair of athletic shoes.
Just another day in the life of a pro athlete, you say? Well, there's a twist. His shoe, Starbury One, will retail for $15, a good hundred dollars less than the average pro athlete-endorsed sneaker. He is starting a new campaign to make cool brand name shoes affordable for all kids.
It is amazing to me how this shoe culture developed. I blame Michael Jordan and Nike for starting the phenom in the 1980's. For me, it meant that I had to cough up $100 at least once each season for a decent pair of basketball season. I was pretty much broke all through high school. Other kids have lost their lives over a pair of these shoes...we've all heard the stories.
Of course, materialism-at-all-costs and overindulgence goes beyond footwear. When I served in YW's in Queens, most of the YW were obsessed with having brand-name clothes and expensive jewelry (bling.) Most of these girls also lived in the projects and were the least able to afford these luxuries.
Now I teach SAT prep classes in one of the richest suburbs in the country. The kids drive up in BMWs and have their own college consultants, personal trainers, and masseuse. A different set of kids, a different set of status symbols, but the same powerful message: Having expensive things will make me happy....having more expensive things will make me more happy.
Which is the worst case of materialism and overindulgence, the kid from the projects with diamond stud earrings or the suburban kid in her BMW? I think society judges the kid from the projects more harshly. I know, as a YW leader, I was guilty of judging these girls and their parents for their spending choices. But now I see that the overindulgent parents of these suburban kids are showing equally bad judgement. Basically, I judge and condemn everyone equally now.
Back to the shoes....critics are harsh. They say that Marbury is doing this to improve his public image which was hammered pretty badly last season after he stopped passing the ball and got his well-respected coach fired. They say that it won't make a difference. Kids will add these shoes to their huge collection of overpriced footwear, but continue to buy their Air Jordans.
I say, finally, an athlete willing to put his reputation on the line in order to improve some serious socioeconomic dysfunction in our society. I say, I love the gesture, but even with all of the power Marbury wields as an athlete, nothing is going to change until parents teach their kids self-discipline, restraint, humility. This means that they first must adopt these values into their own lives. A parent's example is infinitely more powerful than any marketing campaign.
What do you say? Would you buy these shoes for your kids? And most importantly, how are you working to keep your kids away from this cycle of overspending and instant gratification that is all around us?