- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

Noble: Andre Agassi, tennis player and charter school starter par excellence.It would have been easy for Andre Agassi to set himself up as a high-handed, self-serving monster running simply another charity racket. Instead, he decided to drive the same energy that goes into his 100-mile-per-hour-plus serves into launching a $4.1 million charter school for at-risk children in Las Vegas. Nearly half of that money was served up by Agassi's foundation, which, based on revenue, is currently the largest single-person sports celebrity foundation in the United States. To date, it has raised over $14 million for children's charities.

When 150 students begin their school year at the opening of his self-named college preparatory academy next week, Agassi himself will be scrambling to add a third U.S. Open title to his 45 tournament victories, including a career grand slam.

He has faced down doubters and detractors of both his tennis game and his charter school, which he plans will eventually include both a middle school and a high school. He told the New York Times, "Hopefully it will raise the standard for public education. That would be a huge accomplishment in my mind."

Other superb athletes are also superb school donors. NBA superstar the "Admiral" David Robinson and his wife laid the keel of a charter school in San Antonio with nearly $5 million of their own money.

Robinson and Agassi have served their students well, giving them a solid scholastic grounding on life's long baseline.


Knaves: The McCriminals.

Average Americans seem to be growing more obese, and one of the reasons is their almost insatiable appetite for fast foods, particularly those that just might come with a super-sized prize. Promotions such as McDonald's "Monopoly" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" regularly send millions of Americans running, or at least walking and wheezing, to buy french-fry-shaped lottery tickets.

It now appears that many of those cholesterol-poisoned casualties in the war of the waistline may have died in vain, thanks to the work of at least eight hamburglars. The members of this super-sized scam stole up to $13 million in cash and prizes from a menu of McDonald's promotions by giving key game pieces away to their friends. Those "winners" often kicked-back at least a kiddie meal-sized portion of the proceeds to the leader of the McScam, Jerome Jacobson.

While Mr. Jacobson can look forward to being entertained with the finest fast food that the federal penal system can provide, the real losers are actually the lawyers (as they should be anyway). The nature of Mr. Jacobson's scam means that lawyers hoping to bag Big Mac-sized punitive damages have virtually the same odds that the players of the next McPromotion have of winning anything other than a few more McPounds.


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