In case you haven’t peeked into what’s trending in sports news lately, Daniel Murphy, second baseman for the New York Mets, has come under fire from certain sports radio personalities and sports commentators for his decision to take paternity leave after the birth of his firstborn child. Major League Baseball allows for up to three days to be taken and Murphy has exercised that option.
The most notable criticism against Murphy has come from Boomer Esiason, former NFL player, whose journey through football included a stint on the New York Jets. Esiason said that if he were Murphy, he would have told his wife to schedule a C-Section prior to the start of the season. He continued by saying, “this is what makes our money, this is how we’re gonna live our life, this is gonna give my child every opportunity to be a success in life, I’ll be able to afford any college I wanna send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”
Now Esiason and others, whose criticisms did not seem quite so harsh (in my opinion), have come under fire. Should men be allowed to take paternity leave?
First off, Esiason’s professional sports background is very different from Murphy’s. The NFL has a 16 game regular season while Major League Baseball has 162. 162!!! Seriously, from a context standpoint, Esiason doesn’t have a leg to stand on here as his season is 1/10th the length of a MLB season. While he may have made that decision since every game is crucial in the NFL, the MLB season lasts nearly six months and at the beginning of the season, games are hardly crucial.
That’s not to say that these games are unimportant, but players go on the 15 or 60 day disabled list in MLB. Injuries can sideline players. Backups are called in. It’s not like the Mets are in the playoff hunt, at least not at this point in the season. Missing 3 games out of 162 in a season for an important life event seems like a fairly reasonable request. If this was October and the Mets were in the hunt for a playoff berth, that might be a little different. But that’s not the scenario into which Esiason has spoken.
Besides the professional aspect of this, Esiason’s comments give me pause to consider his priorities and what he thinks is most important for his family and, more specifically, his children. I’ve always heard it said that LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E when it comes to your family. Based on his comments, one would think that LOVE is spelled M-O-N-E-Y in Esiason’s book. Will making millions of dollars and being separated from your child really afford your child every opportunity to be a success in life? Would your child rather have lots of money or would he/she rather have you?
Kids don’t need money, they need you. Sure, professional athletes will be gone from their families for a significant amount of time, but this is Murphy’s first child, why start off on the wrong foot? When you have the opportunity to make the most of time and the possible repercussions are much less significant, why not seize that opportunity? Maybe I’m crazy and I’m missing something.
While I’m certainly not a professional athlete, as a pastor, my job isn’t a 9 to 5 kind of job. It’s easy to bring work home with me, to allow for family time to be infiltrated by the demands of the profession. That’s not a complaint, it’s just a reality, but I have a choice as to how much I let that infiltration take place into the life of my family. How easily will I allow my time with family to be compromised by what I do? I have the opportunity to set up boundaries and then stick to those boundaries
Growing up the son of a pastor, I saw my dad giving everything to his job. He was trained to believe that his responsibility was to the church while my mom’s responsibility was to my brother and me. I remember many a night that he was out and my constant question was, “Do you have to go out tonight, Daddy?” Years later, that question still echoes in my head and I am constantly aware of it with my own children. So, I have the choice to make things different, to find ways to compensate for the time away, not by throwing money at the problem, but by carving out time somewhere else to spend with my children and family.
I’m not going to blame all of society’s issues on absent parents, but I would gather that the psychological data would tell us that there’s more to it than we might think. No amount of money and opportunities can make up for the nurture and training that can be provided by a parent. Our children don’t need our money as much as they need us and our attention. Hey, Boomer, your kids need you, and I hope when they ask for you, you don’t just throw money at them and say, “Get over it!”
Would love to hear some other thoughts on this.
You can watch Dr. Drew’s panel discuss this issue on Headline News by clicking here (Warning: may contain offensive language):