Monday, March 2, 2009

Basketball and Life

I have been watching a lot of basketball - not as much as driving up and down the interstate - but none the less a lot of basketball. And it has been great. Not TV, but live college basketball with all of the excitement imaginable. It makes it more exciting when your daughter is playing! More about that is another post soon.

I just read a very interesting article about another female basketball player, just a few years older than MArgaret but younger than Katie who has been criticized. Candace Parker, who is many of my daughter's favorite female athlete, recently got pregnant. Read this well written article.

Parker Deserves Support, Not Censure, for Embracing Motherhood 
By Colleen Carroll Campbell
Posted: Saturday, February 14, 2009

St. Louis Post Dispatch
Publication Date: February 12, 2009

Last month in California, 33-year-old unemployed single mother of six, Nadya Suleman, gave birth to octuplets conceived through in vitro fertilization and promptly hired a publicist to field the torrent of interview requests and book-deal offers headed her way. That same week, a group of middle-aged single mothers in New Jersey was the subject of a fawning profile in The New York Times that celebrated their decisions to intentionally create fatherless families. And just last week, 60-year-old Canadian Ranjit Hayer enjoyed celebratory headlines when she gave birth to twins conceived through IVF, becoming a first-time mother at an age when most women are doting on their grandchildren.

It was in this context of unconventional motherhood that St. Louis-born WNBA star Candace Parker recently announced her pregnancy. Parker probably figured the news would be non-controversial, given that the fresh-faced Los Angeles Sparks forward and Olympic gold medalist is happily married to Sacramento Kings forward Shelden Williams. Both earn more than enough to support a family: Parker alone reaps millions on and off the court as one of the most celebrated women athletes in the world.

But Parker's pregnancy was not greeted with the same approval and tolerance that many of today's child-bearing sexagenarians and single mothers by choice enjoy when they form their families. Instead, Parker was blasted by fans and pundits for becoming a mother at age 22. Critics bemoaned her selfishness in putting maternal ambitions ahead of her team's 2009 season prospects. Others lamented her foolishness for starting a family when she should be living a strings-free existence oriented around her glamorous career.

Not long ago, a 22-year-old woman was considered plenty old enough to marry and bear children. But in today's era of prolonged adolescence and commitment phobia, high-achieving women like Parker often face ridicule and scorn for defying the feminist conventional wisdom that marriage and motherhood are second-rate pursuits best delayed until middle age. Young mothers frequently are accused of forfeiting a hard-won feminist privilege: the right to spend their 20s single-mindedly pursuing sexual license, success and self-fulfillment without the hassles of a husband and children.

For her part, Parker told the Los Angeles Times that she wanted her children to grow up witnessing the athletic career of their young mother rather than arriving after it ends. Although she believes she can return to basketball as a mother, Parker said, "The biggest thing for me is not a matter of if or when [I return] but of coming back with a good balance in my life."

Parker's view of motherhood as "a blessing" that will "make me a fuller, happier person" is not as unusual as the media hoopla over her pregnancy suggests. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, the National Center for Health Statistics has released data showing that the mean age at which American women bear their first babies decreased for the first time since the collection of such data began in 1968. The decline in age among first-time mothers was slight -- from 25.2 years in 2005 to 25.0 years in 2006, the latest year for which numbers are available -- but the biggest uptick in first-time births was found among women in their early 20s.

The reasons behind that uptick vary from mother to mother. But the ones Parker cited surely motivate many young women, as does the desire to avoid the trials of infertility and single motherhood often experienced by women who awaken late to their longing for children. Rather than being criticized, Parker ought to be applauded for bearing her child in the stable context of a marriage and daring to trade some of her youthful freedom for the grown-up reward of committed family love.

-- Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, television and radio host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her website is

9.80 APG 3.8 EFF + 21.67
Born: Apr 19, 1986
Height: 6-4 / 1,93
Weight: 175 lbs. / 79,4 kg.
College: Tennessee
Years Pro: 1

No comments: