Athletes and motherhood: Your thoughts on WNBA players becoming moms

This is What You Think

Earlier this week, WNBA.com presented the second installment of This is What I Think, giving WNBA players a chance to weigh in on the issue of motherhood and the challenges faced by professional female athletes who want to have children. We also asked you what you thought about the issue, and received a tremendous amount of feedback. Here are some of your responses:

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Sheryl showed us all

Anytime a woman wants to have a baby, it is her decision and hers alone. Basketball is a game and if enough thought is applied, it can be used as an incentive to get yourself back into shape (after having) a baby. Sheryl Swoopes showed the whole world that having a baby and playing basketball can be done. She worked very hard after her son, Jordan, was born and shortly after (resumed) her career in the WNBA. Sheryl, you go girl! Why limit yourself? Have a baby and play basketball!

--Shanell (Los Angeles, Calif.)


To many, Sheryl Swoopes is the best example of a successful mother/pro athlete.
Shem Roose/WNBAE/Getty Images
They're up to the challenge

If I was a professional athlete and I wanted to start a family, then I would just go ahead and do it. Being a professional athlete means you're in better shape physically to begin with. What better time to have a child? Women juggle careers and children and husbands all the time! We're women! We're stronger! We can deal with it! I tip my hat to any female athlete who has the courage to live her life in spite of what others may think.

--Dorothy (Lenexa, Kan.)


Try for the offseason

I am not a woman, and do not (intend) to tell women what they should or should not do with their bodies. I love women's basketball, and I love the WNBA. I have had season tickets since the league opened. ... I want the league to not only get by, but to prosper. I feel that each and every player has a responsiblity to be there during each season. I understand that sometimes things just happen, but after being married for 14 years things don't "just happen" that often. ... People need to see the best players each year, barring injury. I am not saying that women shouldn't have families, but you technically only work four months and you have the rest (of the year) to have a baby. They will still lose some of the season, but not all. ... It's a no-win situation, but I feel that there are bigger issues at hand here.

--Richard (Orlando, Fla.)


Don't let the chance pass you by

My dream has always been to be a professional basketball player. That's how much I love basketball. I put things off for a while to train and try out for the Fever, but I didn't make it. I think basketball players should have their children whenever they are ready, whether they are playing or not. As it was said by one of the players, you have to live your life. I am now 37 years old with no children because I still have the dream of playing ball stuck in my head. I would (be happy with) a one-game (contract) only to fulfill my dream, but I know this will probably never happen. I keep praying, though. I now want to have kids, but I can't for some reason. I feel that it is just stress from wanting (a basketball career) or worrying about things. Therefore, once again, have your kids now, whenever you feel ready or you may regret it. Basketball can always be there whether you're on the court with your teammates or at home with your kids. But, you may not be able to have kids the longer you wait.

-- Tonya (Indianapolis, Ind.)


What I would do ...

(WNBA players should) go for it but at the same time try to time it so that the majority of the pregnancy will be during the offseason. The WNBA season is only for a portion of life, but motherhood is forever. If you decide to wait, it may be too late by the time you retire. When I make it to the WNBA, I don't plan to retire until I am at least 39 or 40, so it may be too late for my body. This is what I think!

--Tara (Rocky Mount, N.C.)


It's all about determination

There shouldn't have to be a choice. Women althetes can most certainly have both (a career and a child) -- it is just a matter of how much they want to have children and a professional career in sports. In other words, after having a child, if a woman wants to continue playing her sport, she will work and do what it takes to come back just as good, if not better than before she left. With determination, you can do anything you want to do. It's that easy.

--Brittany (N.C.)


No debate

It shouldn't even be a debate. It's a "professional career," just like me being a Database Coordinator. If you get pregnant, you can either choose to continue to work or stay at home. The world doesn't stop just because you get pregnant and bring a baby into this world. Why should a career? It shouldn't matter whether it's basketball, volleyball, or the regular nine-to-five job. ... So, what's the issue anyway? Or should I ask: why is this an issue? Motherhood is a joyous occasion. It should remain that way.

--Cathy D. Boone (South Riding, Va.)


Another Swoopes supporter

As in any career that a woman might choose, the decision to become a mom is a personal one, and if the woman feels it is the right time for her, then she should not be constrained by her career. I am personally very close to this issue, as I delivered Sheryl Swoopes's son, and I think Sheryl has done a marvelous job as both a successful parent and a successful professional athlete!

--Ed (Lubbock, Texas)


It's best not to wait

I am a 50-year-old male fan. I feel that the the ladies should go for their family whenever they feel "prepared" for the most difficult job they will ever have. I have watched many friends and family members wait until they were older so as not to disrupt their career. It was a mistake -- especially for the first-time mothers. Being 50 with a five-year-old is not fun, nor fair to either (child or mother). Go for it while you are young, healthy, and able to rebound.

--Don (Detroit, Mich.)


What about the husbands?

I think that these women are all heroes for facing a tough decision like this. I do wonder, however, about their husbands, who face the ordeal of being responsible for the pregnancy that would put their wives on the bench for the season. I've got to imagine it's tough for (each player's) No. 1 fan to have to see her go through such a tough part of her career.

-- Andre (Atlanta, Ga.)


Season allows for planning

Female athletes submit their bodies to a rigorious training regime and -- especially with basketball -- competition is a physically enduring process. Since a hoop season in the WNBA is not very long, it might behoove some women to "schedule" their pregnancy around their chosen profession, particularly when their jobs enable them to do so. Basketball players are not doctors, lawyers, or accountants; their season is orchestrated at a fixed time every year. They (or the majority) do not have the luxury to sit out while their star is on the rise. They may not enjoy the same fortune as Swoopes did in her triumphant return.

-- George (Flint, Mich.)


Determination is key

I am 32, and will be taking my test for my black belt in Karate in December. I have three children and tested for various belts during all three pregnancies. Although I am not a professional athlete, I understand the pressure of getting back in shape after having a baby. If you are determined enough, and have enough support, getting back into shape after the baby is born can be done.

--Cathleen (Glastonbury, Conn.)


It's not just about the mothers

Isn't that an unfair question to pose to women? Shouldn't the question be something to the effect of professional athletes taking the time off in their career to become a parent. Now, I know a man becoming a father does not directly effect his physical play, but has anyone ever considered that not be available to be 100 percent part of that process due to professional committment may take a toll on men. I also think that it is unfortunate that one would suggest to consider planning a pregnancy around a career. You get pregnant when you get pregant.

--Damari (Brooklyn, N.Y.)


More understanding needed

The reality is that ages that are prime for a sports career and motherhood overlap. Because of the time involved with pregancy and the time necessary to get back into playing shape, there is no way to plan a pregnancy so that it won't affect an athletic career. Biology dictates that, and fans, atheletes, and sports organizations must be understanding of these competing needs. ... While most womens professional teams sports are organized on the same structure as their male counterparts, I think that biology must enter into the equation and force a reality check. Specifically, a pregnancy reserve list so that a player's position is relatively protected during maternity leave, and the team doesn't have to sacrifice an injured reserve slot.

--C.J. (Albuquerque, N.M.)