This Week in Men Don’t Get It: Paternity Leave

Author’s note: This post includes a graphic video of a Caesarean section. It’s for context, so I’m not sorry. But, anyway, reader discretion advised. 

Just when you thought it was okay to enjoy sports debate again, (Hahaha, there’s never a time when you can enjoy sports debate—I just wanted to see how silly that looked in print) David Murphy decided to be a good husband and father*. Let’s give this story the proper background: Murphy plays for the New York Mets. Murphy left the team Monday to be with his wife, who gave birth to their first child (a boy, because I know you wanted to know that). Now, the collective bargaining agreement between the MLBPA and the MLB owners allows players to take 1-3 days of paternity leave for situations just like this. (Let’s keep that factoid in mind). Now, Murphy re-joined the team Thursday (and went 1-3, getting on base twice and scoring a run). So, it’s time to put a bow on this story, right?

No.

If you read TwH, you’re probably familiar with Boomer Esiason. He’s got a radio show on CBS that is (for some reason) aired nationally. When they got on the subject of Murphy, Boomer went on to spew many senseless things (which is sports talk on the radio in a nutshell, obviously). His highlight signature line came when he mentioned that he would tell his wife to have a C-section so that it won’t interfere with, um, stuff. Yes, these were things that were said:

Before I move on, I think that if you don’t know what a C-section is like, here’s your chance. I really don’t think Boomer knows what that means. If he did, he would never even JOKE that he would make this suggestion to his wife. This is MAJOR abdominal surgery, mind you. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE FOR AT LEAST A MONTH after this surgery. Anyway, here goes:

Not to be outdone(?), Mike Francesca (a radio guy who has fallen asleep on air and is convinced that Jadeveon Clowney didn’t try in 2013) felt that David Murphy was doing his team a huge disservice, and didn’t seem to understand why a guy would want to do such a thing. He “didn’t know it (paternity leave) was a thing” and was “back at work the same day” his children were born. Yeah. Really.

Now, obviously these are just two examples of somewhat reasonable men being idiots. But, this isn’t really the first time that baseball players have been criticized for taking time off for the birth of their child. As a matter of fact, football players have received scorn too.  (Scorn is probably too strong of a word. But this a a HOT SPORTS TAKE SO STRONG WORDS ARE LIKE, NEEDED. I THINK.)

Why would anyone have a problem with what these players are doing? No, seriously. I have a 20 month old son (I reserve the right to say how many months old he is until he’s two, OKAY?). I could not have imagined being anywhere but in the delivery room when he was born, and at home with my wife and child for a week afterwards. Now, we know that not all businesses think that paternity leave is, um, necessary. (And let’s just throw this out there while we can—it really should be. I wish I had just as much time as my wife did when our son was born) But to criticize a player for wanting to be there for his child’s first few days and moments? These guys just do. Not. Get. It. To me, if you want to be a great dad…you need to be there. Now, you may not be able to make everything. Neither I nor my wife were there when my son took his first extended walk across a room. But you want to be there for as much as you can. It’s really the only way your child will, you know, like you.

I also get that dads being…um, involved is a “relatively” new thing (And yes, whatever works for your OWN family/marriage/sanity is really the best thing). People would be surprised all the time when my wife and I would try to remember whose night (to get up if the baby woke up crying) it was.  But there’s no way that this “new thing” will become “normal” if sports (I almost put ‘news’ instead of ‘sports’—and that would have been something like blasphemy) bros are blasting any man who chooses family over sports (or whatever their profession may be). David Murphy is a pretty good baseball player (you kind of have to be in order to be on a Major League team). What he did this week is the kind of stuff that great fathers and husbands do. That is something worth celebrating. Not criticizing. As men, we really need to be there for our children. Our careers/other responsibilities can wait.

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