The words athlete and role model are drifting further and further apart.
—ANDREW THOMPSON, Richmond
Bravo on your special report on athletes fathering out-of-wedlock children (Paternity Ward, May 4). You covered a complicated, sensitive issue with fairness and impressive detail. We implicitly condone this behavior when we and our kids care more about what goes on in the NBA and the NFL than what goes on in Congress, our schools and our communities. We perpetuate this behavior when our kids grow up thinking that fame and fortune constitute the ultimate definition of success.
THOMAS J. MOORE, Reading, Pa.
Seven children by six women? Did Shawn Kemp have an incentive clause in his contract?
GUY LUCAS, Willard, Ohio
It's amazing that, in the wake of the bomb that Magic Johnson dropped seven years ago, these guys are willing to risk their lives by living the Lothario life. The bloated egos and "I can do what I want" attitude of some athletes are what our kids don't need to be imitating.
J.T. MEYRING, Anchorage
As a 14-year-old boy who loves sports, searching for good role models is not an easy task. I have a mental list of players whom I admire. After the drug-, rape-and alcohol-related arrests, the list is short, but your article made it even shorter. If you find evidence to write damaging reports about John Elway and Karl Malone, my list will be extinct.
AARON ROGGENSACK, Grand Junction, Colo.
A monthly award of $8,850 in addition to a nanny does not make me feel sorry for Laura Tate. She'll be living well above the means of most Americans. Having a baby with an athlete means more than child support. It often means hitting the jackpot. Moreover, it took more than Larry Johnson to have that baby.
GEORGE ZBRAVOS, Flushing, N.Y.
The women in these situations are just as much at fault, but they don't have the luxury of running away from their problems as the men do.
RACHELE MANNING, Seattle
One can only hope that these paragons of parenthood will get hit where it hurts the most, in their endorsements.
RUSSELL K. CARDWELL, Summerville, S.C.
These athletes seem to think that providing financial support is enough. It is not. Children need father figures to nurture them.
MARK ANDERS, Pine Bluff, Ark.
As a family law attorney who has represented more than one of the unwed mothers of the sadly numerous children of athletes in your article, I can attest to the fact that generally, with the vigilance of the courts, these wealthy and irresponsible young men pay their fair share of support. I can also attest to the fact that other parental responsibilities, like visitation, are seldom met. These kids essentially grow up fatherless.
JAMES P. CUNNINGHAM, Birmingham, Mich.