Paternity leave–for the love of the game?

News broke this week that Daniel Murphy, second baseman for the New York Mets, recently took two days off for paternity leave, causing him to miss Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and the season’s second game to be with his wife and child.

Mike Francesa, a popular New York sports radio personality, devoted about 20 minutes of his Wednesday broadcast on WFAN to a rant against paternity leave. According to him, a Major League Baseball player should hire a nurse to take care of the newborn. He went on to say there is nothing for a dad to do at first but look at your wife. He minimized postpartum depression. He basically said having a baby and taking care of a baby is the wife’s (or a hired nurse’s) responsibility. In short, Francesa thinks Dad needs to go and be the breadwinner—maybe he can give a bottle at night. His implication was that if you’re rich, you just need to employ someone else to take care of your kids. In order to keep up this arrangement, the man should go to work.

Nothing to do but look at your wife? Mike, how about spending some time bonding with your newest family member and supporting your wife who delivered your child? Childbirth isn’t a 30-minute event that ends after the umbilical cord is cut. Even the most uncomplicated delivery is not a bed of roses. Have you ever changed a diaper? Rocked a baby to sleep? Having a newborn is scary, especially for a first-time parent. Francesa said, “I mean, what would you possibly be doing? I guarantee you’re not sitting there holding your wife’s hand.” Mike, if you know what’s best, you better be holding your wife’s hand!

Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback, says that he would have asked his wife to have a Caesarean section before the season started to avoid a conflict. Ouch! Talk about a slap in the face to all women who have ever had a C-section. What a demeaning request! Esiason said baseball is what makes Murphy’s money and provides for his family, so it should be prioritized. Boomer, it’s not about the money! Did you forget he makes a salary and stands to lose no money from taking paternity leave?

Each Major League Baseball team plays 162 games. By missing the first two games of the season, Daniel Murphy will miss 1.2 percent of the season to be with his wife and his firstborn baby boy named Noah. Note that Daniel Murphy played all but one game last season, logging 697 plate appearances to rank sixth in the league.

I love sports. I follow fantasy football news nearly every day from July to January. I am a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. I watch their games as much as I can on television. I am a big University of Kentucky Wildcat basketball fan (Go Big Blue! Bring home #9!). But I love my wife and I love my baby more than I love sports. There is no way I would have missed being there for both of them in the first couple of days after delivery. I mean, we’re talking about Opening Day and one other game…there isn’t even a playoff race in sight for months.

Real men don’t leave their wives right after birth. They stick around, change diapers, hold a crying baby, support their partner, and find out what it’s really like to be a dad. If you get paternity leave (and you can afford it), you should use it. I took two weeks off and I don’t regret it for a second. Kudos to you, Daniel Murphy! I hope you have the best year of your career and your team makes the playoffs. I will cheer for you, just as long as you’re not playing the Cardinals.

About Dr. Justin Morgan, Bundoo Pediatrician

Justin Morgan, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician who practices general pediatrics in Louisville, Kentucky. He cares for children of all ages.

Comments

  1. My neanderthal ancestor Uggg took three days off to be with his newborn. WTF (What’s That For)?? I could say about Mike Francesa, “look at him” or “look at his life, who would want that” But I won’t. I could say “alcoholics are adept at redirecting”, but lets just stick to the point. He is a total loser. Who would want him as a husband, father, grandfather, friend, or wife?

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  2. I can’t believe Mike Francesa said that (and spent 20 minutes on it!!) – being from New York and a huge Yankees fan (sorry Dr Morgan) I grew up listening to him, but this certainly changes my opinion. I am a huge sports fan, but sorry Mike and Boomer – sports could end today and the world would continue to spin just fine (and all those salaries could be nicely redirected to teachers, food aide, etc)….but if women had to go back to having babies all alone in caves or schedule their C-sections around their hubby’s work schedule, count me out!

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