On my walk to class today, I was looking on Twitter and saw a WNBA highlight. The player got injured, and was later announced to be out for the season. This happens all the time in sports. A star player gets injured, they take time off and recover, and eventually come back to play their sport. The WNBA is the only professional sports league for women out of the four core sports in America, and they aren’t only worried about their players getting injured, but also pregnant.
Just imagine this. You wake up one morning and throw Sportscenter on while you go through your morning routine. You look at the Bottom Line and see something like Candace Parker out for season (pregnant). Wouldn’t that catch your eye and make you think a little bit?
In March, three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury and two-time champion forward DeWanna Bonner announced that she would miss the upcoming season because she was expecting. Mercury’s GM and head coach both expressed their support, and said that they looked forward to having Bonner return for the 2018 season.
I wonder if their contracts have stipulations like, “You are not allowed to become pregnant while under contract.” That’s a weird kind of clause to have. But that aside, do women still get paid if they miss a season or part of one due to pregnancy? On the one hand, they should, because WNBA is a business and their players are the employees. They also don’t make much money from the WNBA to begin with. However, the WNBA is paying them to play basketball, so if they do get pregnant and can’t play, then maybe they do not get 100% of it. I don’t know.
Also, this would be an insane tanking strategy. In the NBA, players intentionally play poorly or don’t try as hard in order to land the top pick. Imagine a team that could get the first pick and instead of not playing well, they all get pregnant. That would be a wild story.
I was also wondering if playing while pregnant affects the baby. Some women continue to play their sport while pregnant; Serena Williams won her 7th Australian Open this year when she was pregnant.
Williams is far from the first professional athlete to compete and win while pregnant. Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings won her third gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics while five weeks pregnant. Canadian curler Kristie Moore took home a silver medal at 2010 Olympics while five months pregnant. Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi competed at the 2012 Olympics while eight months pregnant, and Alysia Montaño ran the 800-meter race at the 2014 U.S. track and field championships while eight months pregnant. They weren’t the only ones. – Time Magazine
Back to the WNBA, in 2013, 6’2″ power forward Rebekkah Brunson of the Minnesota Lynx played in the WNBA playoffs and finals EIGHT MONTHS pregnant. That is crazy!!! Not only did she play, but she dominated, averaging 26 points per game and 14 rebounds. For the good of the child, I hope she didn’t dive for loose balls. She did take 9 charges, however.
I’m no doctor so I don’t know why she was cleared to play; I’m sure these women consult with theirs before making decisions that affect themselves and their unborn children. In 2015, the International Olympic Committee convened a panel of experts from around the world to study and discuss athletes playing and competing during pregnancy and after childbirth. Their 2016 report found that it’s completely safe for women to keep playing as long as they adapt to the needs of their own body. Seems pretty straightforward. And thanks to Brunson, the Lynx ended up winning the Finals. Brunson won Finals MVP. Seems a little unfair playing 6 vs. 5 on the court, but hey, that’s just me.
Say a player does get pregnant, that is what, at least a season maybe two missed? Becoming pregnant could possibly be forced retirement. Does this make free agent signings even more stressful? This entire subject fascinates me and I need answers ASAP.
PS: I’m a man trying to understand. Don’t @ me with accusations of sexism for trying to learn something new!