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Being there for your family

These are negotiated benefits that the players receive thanks to their unions collective bargaining agreement

Brian Young's picture
Dec 01, 2016

At the beginning of every sports season comes the inevitable story about a player who misses a game or two thanks to the birth of a child.  Inevitably this is followed up by a story of a talk radio blowhard criticizing the player for putting his family over the team.  The NBA has been playing for a month and this week, Boston blowhard Michael Felger put his foot in his mouth and showed how out of touch he really is.

The whole controversy started when Boston Celtics star Al Horford missed a recent game in Miami. Instead of playing the Heat, Horford was in Atlanta with his wife who had just had the couple’s second child the day before.  Felger felt that because Horford has a $30 Million contract, he should have left his wife and flown to Atlanta.  We wonder if Felger left his wife after the birth of his daughter. 

Of course, this isn’t new.  In 2014, New York radio hosts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton came under fire after calling out Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing Opening Day for the birth of his first child.  Esiason even went so far as to say that Murphy should have forced his wife to have a Caesarian-section birth so that he wouldn’t need to miss a game.  Showing little regard for the mother, he advocated putting her at an increased health risk so that Murphy wouldn’t miss one game.

Both Horford and Murphy where well within their collectively bargained rights to miss the games.  A policy was created in 2011 that allowed MLB player to take 3 days off for paternity leave.  In the first 3 years of the policy, 73 players took advantage of the leave to support their wives in the birth of their child.  These are negotiated benefits that the players receive thanks to their unions collective bargaining agreement. Part of the reason that these benefits were added was to allow a better home life balance for players who are on the road for 50% of the season.  For a baseball player, this means that there will be 80+ days a season that the player is missing their kids growing up.  The least the league could do was allow the player to be there when the child is born. 

According to CNN, less than 20% of companies give paternity leave and 36% of men say that they wouldn’t take paternity leave for fear of it jeopardizing their position at work.  Fortunately for professional athletes they no longer need to worry about their jobs being compromised so that they can support their wives and take paternity leave.

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