A Major League Baseball player took paternity leave and another April fool was revealed.
Following Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis’ decision to be present at the birth of his child instead of pitching a game, Dallas Observer writer Richie Whitt expressed his displeasure.
Whitt wrote, “Baseball players are paid millions to play baseball. If that means “scheduling” births so they occur in the off-season, then so be it. Of the 365 days in a year, starting pitchers “work” maybe 40 of them, counting spring training and playoffs.
If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous.”
Wow. Whitt’s column, even if it was just intended to grab attention, makes it easier to understand why women, and mothers in particular, face discrimination at work. Clearly, the attitude that childbirth and parenting is great but… is deep-rooted. I am reminded of one former boss who told me how annoyed she was that I got pregnant. She worked very hard running the company, she told me, and because of my due date, she would have to reschedule her vacation. Oh, and by the way, no bonus for me that year.
I get the challenges a business owner faces managing interruptions and workforce shortages. I do. I’ve managed enough teams and picked up slack enough times to know it hurts. But that comes with being a manager, or a business owner. And taking those positions is a choice. And, when you look at the lifetime value of an employee, is one game, or in my case, 8 and half weeks of unpaid leave, really that significant? When you consider, in the corporate world anyway, the cost of losing an employee, then rehiring, and retraining a replacement, isn’t it better to make accommodations? Or consider the employee doesn’t leave. They stay, bitter and disgruntled. That costs too. Think of Nomar in the 2004 Red Sox clubhouse. Which leads us back to baseball.
I get the passion for the game. I do. I’ve been a member of Red Sox Nation since birth. And as fans we get swept up and forget our favorite team is made up of real people with lives outside the ball field. That’s part of what makes it fun. Sports allow us to escape reality and be part of a game we have no ability to actually play. But in reality, sports are big business. And those businesses must address the same work/life challenges any other business faces.
It’s important to note many of the commenters to Whitt’s piece disagreed with what he wrote and supported the leave. That’s encouraging. Less encouraging were those who supported Lewis’ decision because it’s only April. September, now that would have been a different story. And this is baseball with approximately 30 starts. But a quarteback in the NFL? Also a different story.
I think it’s the exact same story. But then again, I don’t know nothin’ bout football.
Photo from sportressofblogitude.com used with Creative Commons Attribution License.