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Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Try to Put a Full-Court Press on Gifts for Athletes

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CHAPEL HILL — For many years, college sports programs have signed big deals with athletic wear companies. Now, many high schools are getting offers for young student athletes to wear certain symbols.

School is supposed to be about academics. But, for many students, the pressure to perform is in athletics.

Chris Hobbs, a star player at East Chapel Hill High School, got some of his pressure fromadidas. If he attended their camp, the whole team would get warm-ups, gym bags and shoes.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools said "no." Hobbs says they should have let the deal go through.

"No. That's not a hitch at all because I didn't feel any pressure from them. They didn't come to me at all. Coach handled everything. It was laid down on the table and that was it," said Hobbs.

The principal also thought the adidas deal was no problem. But, he understands the need for a school system-wide gift policy.

"We didn't think that Chris was going to suffer unduly as the result of being involved with the adidas camp, but we don't want kids to feel pressured to do something that they wouldn't normally do," said principal David Thaden.

The schools say they do not want big companies having too much influence on students. That is why they are tightening the gift policy.

But, why do they take gifts like computers fromIBMand not shoes from an athletic company?

"I think that those are two very different types of donations, because with IBM, they're not asking a student to make a personal commitment to the company in order for us to get those computers," said Superintendent Neil Pedersen.

At a meeting Thursday night, the superintendent says he expects the school board to approve stricter guidelines for accepting corporate gifts.