SBD/29/Sports Society

THE FATHERS OF OUR COUNTRY? SI PROBES OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS

          Professional athletes fathering of out-of-wedlock
     children is the focus of a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED special report
     this week, with a cover photo of Khalid Minor, son of
     Celtics G Greg Minor, above the header, "Where's Daddy?" 
     The cover sub-head reads: "Pro athletes have fathered
     startling numbers of out-of-wedlock children.  One NBA star
     has seven by six women.  Paternity cases have disrupted
     teams.  What's happening, and what does it mean for the kids
     left behind?"  The story, by Wahl, Wertheim, Munson &
     Yaeger, chronicles the case of many pro athletes, most of
     whom declined to be interviewed for the piece (SI, 5/2). 
          TWO EXAMPLES: One source at the Sonics told SI that
     Shawn Kemp's "well-publicized meltdown while playing with
     Seattle last year resulted primarily from the increasing
     pressures of paternity and child support obligations."  In
     New England, Patriots VP/Public & Community Relations Don
     Lowery mentions the team's role in working with RB Dave
     Meggett, who "became entangled in ... paternity
     obligations."  Lowery: "We didn't want to get involved in
     this, but this was one of our key players, who had the
     potential of not playing because he could be arrested.  It
     was a distraction for the organization, no question about
     that."  But Richard Lapchick of Northeastern's Center for
     the Study of Sport in Society doubts that sports has higher
     incidents of out-of-wedlock children than other high-paying
     professions: "My guess is that if FORTUNE looked at CEOs and
     another magazine looked at the entertainment industry, you'd
     see similar numbers."  Wahl, Wertheim, Munson & Yaeger add
     that athletes "are anything but deadbeat dads.  Once
     paternity has been established, athletes are among the most
     reliable at paying support" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 5/4 issue).

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