The Las Vegas Aces kicked off the WNBA free agency period on Saturday, January 21, by kicking Dearica Hamby off the sidewalks of Sin City and into the fringes of the City of Angels. Nor “Ejection,” that made Hamby both a fan favorite and a household name among league aficionados, nor did her repeated Sixth Woman of the Year awards, two All-Star nominations or the 2022 championship save her from an unceremonious attack by the Vegas organization.
The Aces front office dealt Hamby and a 2024 WNBA first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Amanda Zahui B. and a 2024 second-round draft pick.
Hamby accused the Aces of pregnancy discrimination
For Hamby, the problem is not trade; she admits roster moves are part of the job. However, the way it happened gave her regret. In a post on Instagram, the 29-year-old striker alleged that members of the Aces office “lied, bullied, manipulated and discriminated” against her because of her pregnancy.
“The unprofessional and unethical way I was treated was traumatizing,” wrote Hamby, who also claimed Aces management accused her of knowingly signing a contract extension while pregnant, failing to fulfill her part of the job by becoming pregnant. during his tenure, and drilled with questions about her use of contraception and whether her pregnancy was planned.
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Hamby’s transparency and honesty, she wrote, “were met with coldness, disrespect and disregard from board members.”
Hamby is not the first player to accuse her team of pregnancy problems
In other words, her pregnancy was a problem, and Hamby isn’t the first WNBA player to claim she was mistreated during pregnancy or motherhood. In 2019, Skylar Diggins-Smith revealed that she played the entire 2018 season while pregnant, unbeknownst to the Dallas Wings, who had no reason to question her fitness. Diggins-Smith continued her stellar performance on the court that season, starting all 32 games and averaging 34.1 minutes, 17.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
In 2019, Diggins-Smith claimed in a series of tweets (from the Twitter account that does not exist anymore) who was accused by the Wings of abandoning her team when she didn’t return from maternity leave soon enough for their liking. “Not knowing that I took a FULL two months off from everything because of postpartum depression,” she chirped. “With limited resources to help me be mentally/physically successful.”
Although she got what many women in the U.S. don’t — full pay during months of maternity leave — the Wings’ treatment of her decision to become a working mother left Diggins-Smith wanting out. She requested a trade to the Phoenix Mercury ahead of the 2020 WNBA season, where benefits for employees and/or nursing mothers, including a childcare facility, have long been in place.
“Phoenix, the organization — since I’ve raced against them, since I’ve known them and, now, being a part of it — has always had a great lineup and has always been a great family organization,” Diggins-Smith he told me in a May 2020 interview. “Given that I have a child… that was something that was a big priority. It’s great to play under mom Sandy Brondello and have another mom, Julie (Hairgrove), as an assistant coach, who has kids, and a few of my teammates have kids. … You feel like you’re being seen, you feel like you’re being heard, and those resources show that they care about you.”
Disturbingly, Hamby accuses the women in the Aces organization of being the main sources of the rough treatment she claims she received, stating, “To be treated like this… BY WOMEN who are mothers, who ‘claimed to be in these shoes,’ which preaching of family, chemistry and women’s empowerment… leaves me sick to my stomach.”
What does the WNBA CBA say?
It’s a damning statement not only against the Las Vegas franchise, but against the WNBA as well whole. CBA 2020which Hamby refers to in his Instagram post, includes provisions for maternity, maternity and family planning leave that exceed what most working mothers in the US ever receive. At least on paper, the provisions serve as a blueprint for what companies should provide to all working mothers. Still, the league has a lot of work to do to update the content of the CBA for 2020. WNBA teams and the league itself must reckon with the new reality.
In this way, injuries are accepted as part of the game and cause players to miss days, weeks, months or even a season. Franchises are already used to patching holes in players while players rehab and recover. So why should maternity leave be treated differently?
Article X, on health benefits, “Section 2: Pregnancy Benefits” of the 2020 CBA stipulates that any WNBA player who is unable to fulfill her contractual obligations due to pregnancy shall receive the full base salary as set out in the “Standard Player Agreement”. Article X, Section 2 further states that players traded during the time she is unable to perform basketball duties will be required to forgo a “merit bonus” unless she plays in at least one regular season game.
In her Instagram post, Hamby claims that team management did not foresee her taking the field in the 2023 season, despite her plans to do just that. But she’s not the first WNBA player to withdraw from team commitments after announcing her pregnancy. The WNBA actually kicked off its first season with one of its most talented and hotly promoted stars sidelined due to pregnancy.
Do you remember what happened to Sheryl Swoopes?
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and four-time champion Sheryl Swoopes missed most of her freshman season, and the (male-dominated) sports world went crazy. Joke headlines about Swoopes’ pregnancy — some with tacky rhymes, like “no hoops for Swoopes,” or silly alliteration like “pregnancy break” abounded. As Hamby now experiences, Swoopes’ organization (the now defunct Houston Comets, which was managed by the NBA’s Rockets organization), hedged his commitment to his thoroughly hyped, Olympic gold medal-winning star.
The day after learning of Swoopes’ pregnancy, Rockets spokesman, Angela Blakeney said in a newspaper interview: “I don’t want people to assume she’s been assigned to this team – because she’s not.” (In 1997, the WNBA drew up its inaugural rosters by assigning two players to each of the league’s inaugural eight teams.) Despite Swoopes being a married woman of 25 at the time, the media delved deeply into questions about the planned or unplanned nature of her pregnancy. However, WNBA president Val Ackerman wished Swoopes a “healthy and enjoyable pregnancy” and expressed his desire to see her on the court when she’s ready.
Swoopes gave birth to her son, Jordan, on June 25, 1997, less than a week before the league’s inaugural tip-off. She made her WNBA debut late in the regular season, playing nine games off the bench and averaging about 14 minutes and seven points per game. Punditry then switched to questions about her ability to parent a baby while working in a gym atmosphere and traveling frequently.
That’s right. While Hamby and Diggins-Smith claim they were treated like they didn’t do enough in terms of training or preparing to return to their teams, Swoopes was questioned about whether she would be a good mother because of her job as a frequently traveled professional athlete. There were debates about her ability to be a parent and whether her job was creating an unhealthy environment for her newborn child. Former NBA player Reggie Miller, who was an analyst, offered his uninvited views: “This is just the game we play,” Miller said. “Life and motherhood are much more important.”
His comments drew the ire of working womenwho sent opinion letters to scores of newspapers across the country, expressing outrage at Miller’s choice to insert his opinion on matters that did not concern him, and decisions, he, as a man, would never have to do.
Fast forward a few decades and a WNBA player is now accusing her team’s management of perpetuating a pregnancy opinion that do not fully embrace women’s desire to prioritize the dual roles of athlete and mother. The WNBA, when contacted for comment on Sunday, Jan. 22, said the league “has not yet issued a statement” but would share one “if/when” one does. The Aces did not respond to a similar request for comment on Sunday.
What is the WNBA doing about it?
WNBPA published on Saturday that it will consider the “serious concerns” Hamby raised and launch a “comprehensive investigation” into whether her rights — under the 2020 CBA as well as state and federal laws — were violated.
In the midst of an exciting period of free agency negotiations and improvements for players, including higher salaries, taking effect under the aforementioned CBA, Hamby’s allegations against the Aces should be considered troubling — not only to WNBA fans, but to working women as well that strive for success. in the business environment of a society that simply does not know what to do with them. The time has come for the league to realize this and lead the way on these issues – off paper. Before the league’s current era, players delayed parenthood until after retirement, risking the possibility of being too late to get pregnant in an era of egg freezing was unavailable or unavailable.
League legend Sue Bird spoke openly about it egg freezing – a wise choice for a woman who retired from professional basketball after the age of 35, the year she became pregnant medically considered “geriatric.” But not all players want to delay pregnancy or parenthood for their careers, and the provisions in the new CBA support the reality that the WNBA is a women’s league of reproductive age. Therefore, it is time for the league to imagine a new paradigm – an apotheosis that uses creative marketing and scheduling strategies to compensate for team regulars.
Considering that many players still compete throughout the year, playing overseas during the WNBA offseason, and the retaliation Hamby claimed she faced, adding two additional roster spots per team would be a good place to start.