20. June 2008 · Comments Off on Selfish, Un-Patriotic, or Pursuing a Dream? · Categories: General

I don’t follow sports, so I hadn’t heard about this until a friend posted about it today on a message board.

Becky Hammon, a WNBA player for the San Antonio Silver Stars, has dreamed all her life of playing basketball in the Olympics. This year, that dream might come true. When the WNBA goes on their summer hiatus, she’ll be trying out for an Olympic spot on a national team, along with 2 other WNBA players.

Thing is, if she’s selected, she won’t be playing playing for the USA. She’ll be playing on the Russian team. Last year, when the USA Team released their list of prospects, Becky’s name wasn’t on it.

She subsequently signed a lucrative contract with club team CSKA Moscow.

Hammon has no ancestral ties to Russia, and under Russian league rules, she was eligible for a Russian passport and to become a naturalized citizen. She received her passport in March. As part of her CSKA contract, her agent Mike Cound says, she agreed to participate in the training camp for Russia’s Olympic team.

According to FIBA rules, “A national team participating in an international competition of FIBA may have only one player who has acquired the legal nationality of that country by naturalization or by any other means.” Hammon says that, barring injury, she has the lone spot all but wrapped up.

Meanwhile, J.R. Holden, a former Bucknell point guard who plays for CSKA Moscow, is expected to play for Russia’s Olympic men’s team.

Hammon has been called unpatriotic by Anne Donovan, who coaches the US team. The article I read didn’t say whether anyone has called J.R. Holden, Deanna Nolan (WNBA – Detroit) and Kelly Miller (WNBA – Phoenix) unpatriotic. If Becky’s unpatriotic, doesn’t it follow that the other 3 are, as well?

One of the folks on the message board said that Hammon was being selfish, that she should just understand that you don’t always get everything you want in life, and suck it up.

I’m curious as to what y’all think. Personally, I wouldn’t give up my citizenship for anything. But I’m ignorant about law – if Hammon is a naturalized Russian citizen, does that mean she surrendered her US citizenship?

Is she a selfish, unpatriotic person who puts her own desires above everything else, or is she a dedicated athlete relentlessly pursuing a childhood dream? Would there be such a fuss if she were playing for any country other than Russia?

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