Children Out of Wedlock Term Paper

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Children Out of Wedlock

There are a variety of problems that plague today's sports industry. The use of performance enhancing drugs, by athletes, has been a continually challenge across a variety of sports teams, as is the use of recreational drugs. However, one often-overlooked predicament is the occurrence of children out of wedlock, by athletes, and the negative effects this has not only on the athlete and team, but also on the child as well. Because of the detrimental effects on all parties involved, using Kantian morality, it is surmised that athletes having children out of wedlock is an immoral decision.

Athletes and Children Out of Wedlock:

Nearly one-third of all children in this country are born to unwed mothers. (However,) among professional athletes out-of-wedlock births are epidemic" (Crane).

One top agent estimates that there are more out of wedlock children then there are players in the NBA, and notes that he spends more time handling paternity claims than he does negotiating contracts for his players (qtd. Wahl & Werthheim). Of course, it is not just a problem for the NBA, but others sports as well. Athletes from a variety of sports including Oscar de la Hoya, Andre Rison, Steve Garvey, Alonzo Spellman, Jim Palmer, Pete Rose, and more have all been subjected to paternity suits for children they fathered out of wedlock.

What perhaps is most surprising is that most of these paternity suits never become general public knowledge. Wahl and Werthheim quote Gloria Allred, a prominent Los Angeles family law attorney who has represented dozens of mothers in their paternity suits against athletes. She notes that approximately 90% of athlete-related paternity cases don't make it to court. Instead, they are settled quietly before they can become public record. The authors found similar sentiments from more than 10 other lawyers who have also worked on paternity cases against athletes.

Out of Wedlock Children by Athletes, A Reflection of Society?

According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1995, 32% of all American children were born to unmarried mothers. This is a startlingly increase over the 18% reported in 1980. However, is the high rate of out of wedlock births by professional athletes really just a reflection of this disturbing societal trend? When one considers the statistics given by some sports professionals, it becomes clear that athletes have a significantly higher proportion of out of wedlock children, than their non-athlete counterparts. Len Elmore, an ESPN broadcaster and former NBA player himself, estimates that there is approximately one out of wedlock child for every player in the NBA. Although he notes that there are some players with none, there are others with two or three (Wahl & Werheim). Examples include: Larry Johnson, of the Knicks, and his three out of wedlock children, in addition to the two he has with his wife, as well as Shawn Kemp of the Cavaliers, who has seven children but is not married (Crane). If these statistics are to be believed, they would equate to a much higher percentage of out of wedlock children than the disturbingly high national rate of 32%.

Effects of Out of Wedlock Children by Athletes:

The occurrence of out of wedlock children can affect both the players and their teams. As an example, Cleveland Cavaliers forward, Shawn Kemp, as mentioned, in 1998, had seven children and was never married. One bitter paternity battle was regarding Kemp's then two-year-old daughter, Dominque. The increased pressure of the paternity suit and child-support obligations were purported to be the real cause of a well-publicized meltdown while Kemp was playing for the Seattle SuperSonics, in 1997, as opposed to the original story that Kemp had a drinking problem. Kemp's statistics dropped significantly due to the stress from the paternity issues. "Kemp averaged 21.3 points and 11.0 rebounds a game before the All-Star break, but 15.1 points and 8.5 rebounds after it (qtd. Wahl & Werheim).

This stress weighed down the entire team, and may have been part of the reason the SuperSonics lost to the Houston Rockets in the 2nd round playoffs that year.

New England Patriot running back Dave Megget also found himself in a suit for prenatal support by a woman who had become pregnant with his child. While in Florida for a game against the Jaguars, Megget was served a writ of ne exeat in the Patriots' hotel prior to the game, preventing him from leaving the state until posting a $25,000 bonds. As Down Lowery, the Patriots' vice president of public and community relations noted, "It was a distraction for the organization, no question about it." (qtd. Wahl & Werheim).

Kantian Moral Perspective Regarding Out of Wedlock Children by Athletes:.

The issue of morality is an important one. As Socrates noted, "We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live" (qtd. Rachels & Rachels 1). However, the concept of morality, beyond this general description, is not so easily defined. The various rival theories each takes a unique approach on the subject, as a methodology for determining what is moral and what is immoral. For the purpose of this discussion, Kant's moral perspective will be utilized.

For Kant, moral law is the center of respect and reverence. The basis of this respect for others is due to their rationality and autonomy. Both of these facets are possessed independent of the individual's volitions. For this reason, many interpret Kantain ethics as a concern for the respect of persons (Chan).

According to Sussman, this respect stems from the unconditional worth of humanity, due to humanity's "ability to act for sake of any values at all" and humanity's commitment to these norms. There is but a single moral obligation, the Categorical Imperative. Morality isn't based on whether or not an action would make the decision maker happy, but must take into consideration all rational agents and the effect of the decision. O'Neill further expounds on the basics of Kantian morality. "To treat a person as an end, on O'Neill's analysis, is in essence to allow the person at least in principle, a choice between consenting and rejecting one's proposed course of action, which Kant calls a maxim. Absent such a choice, whether due to coercion or deception, the other person is treated merely as a means" (May, Collins-Chobnian, & Wong 27).

Using Kantian morality to analyze the increasing occurrence of professional athletes having children out of wedlock, it becomes clear that these actions, by the players and the mothers, are immoral.

First, on the players' actions, the mothers were used as a means to an end - sexual gratification. No thought was given to the effects of their actions on the women, in the future. The maxim was - unprotected sex without care for the consequences paired with sexual gratification. Clearly it would be irrational if everyone lived by this maxim, therefore, according to Kant, immoral.

Next, in many instances, the mothers also used the players as a means to an end.

Many of these women hope that by getting pregnant by a professional sports person they and their child will be set for life, financially. The maxim, in this instance is, having a child out of wedlock paired with desire for financial wealth. Again, this would be irrational if everyone in the world took this mindset. This is a choice that both partners make, in the decision to have unprotected sex. Both are responsible for getting themselves into a situation such as this. And, it would make little difference whether or not women were permitted more openly in sports, as it would not curb the sexual desire of the players, nor change their promiscuity.

The effects on the child itself further spells out the immorality of the situation.

The child is not treated as an end by either parent. They are not given a choice in the decision, by the process of considering them as an end. As a result, the child may end up hardly knowing their father, other than as a sports figure on the television. Even in instances where the father wishes to take a more active role in parenting, the legal battles that can ensue over custody and visitation can be stressful for a child torn between the two parents. The children may have financial stability, but often lack the emotional stability that is far more crucial in their formative years.

One has to also consider the effect on the players' teammates, when considering the morality of their actions. Professional sports players, such as those on basketball, baseball, or football teams, are not individual sportsmen, but instead a part of a highly integrated team.

One way to look at the moral implications is to consider that the player has used their status as a teammate as a means to an end. They have purposely used this status to attract women and garner sexual gratification, without thought of consequence. In addition, if the players were to think of their teammates as an end, rather… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Children Out of Wedlock.  (2006, December 5).  Retrieved December 13, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/children-out-wedlock/3794698

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