Expert: Don’t try to be ‘Like Mike’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 4, 2002

Features Editor

Rap star Lil’ Bow Wow might have the super basketball abilities of Michael Jordan in the movie "Like Mike," but officials of South Alabama Electric Cooperative are warning youngsters not to try "electrifying" their sneakers in an effort to be "Like Mike."

In the movie, Calvin Cambridge, who is played by Lil’ Bow Wow, gains super athletic powers through a pair of sneakers thrown over a power line.

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"While the shoes are hanging on the power line, the line is struck by lightning and that electrical surge, supposedly, gives the shoes super powers," said Chellie Phillips, communication specialist for South Alabama Electric Co-op. "There is concern that young children might believe they, too, can get super athletic powers by throwing their sneakers over power lines. However, it is very dangerous to play around with power lines."

Phillips said children should be cautioned that power lines can be dangerous and that they will not give sneakers magical jumping ability – even of the line is struck by lightning while they are hanging there.

"Electricity is very powerful and we need to have great respect for it," she said. "One bulb from a string of Christmas tree lights has enough voltage to stop a human heart. So, young people should not try to emulate what they see in the movie. It is dangerous to throw anything on a power line."

Other than causing personal injury, things thrown on a power line can cause an arc, which can cause a shortage and a fire."

Phillips said she talked with Chase Taylor, co-owner of Continental Cinema 5 in Troy, and he agreed that parents and children should be cautioned about the dangers inherent in power lines.

"We all realize that young people are very impressionable and often want to try be like movie stars and singers," Phillips said. "Lil’ Bow Wow is appealing to kids and has a big following and kids might want to be like him."

And, think of the kids who want to be "Like Mike."

"Older kids won’t believe that a pair of sneakers thrown over a power line will give them super powers, but some of the younger ones might," Phillips said. "That is our concern. We not trying to take anything away from the movie or the enjoyment of it. We just want young people to know that energizing a pair of tennis shoes won’t make them a basketball star."

Parents have an opportunity to use this movie as a learning experience for their children.

"It’s a reason to talk with children about electricity, what it does and how to use it safely," Phillips said.

South Alabama Electric Co-op provides information about electricity through its web site. Phillips encourages parents to use "Like Mike" as a tool for teaching children about the safe use of electricity and to have great respect for it.

SAEC’s web site address is