I was asked to comment yesterday on the story that is Adam LaRoche’s potential retirement from baseball. Amy Joyce did a fantastic job of considering the whole of the story in On Parenting in The Washington Post. A former Washington National, LaRoche took a step back from the White Sox in a move that many feel is related to his being asked to limit his 14-year-old son’s time with him at practice.
With the exception of Major League Baseball — which offers three days of leave upon the birth of a baby– the rest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States (NBA, NFL, NHL) are without policies that provide for parental leave. Decisions about parental time off are player and team-driven. This feels to be an interesting parallel to the bigger-picture challenge of moving from the boss lottery (when you have a boss who is invested in your success back to work as a new parent and onward) — which is the club, to full-on organizational commitment which really requires an intentional cultural shift- which in this case is the the league.
And while we consider, how about a walk down memory lane at these “for the records” sports-daddy moments:
- Daniel Murphy, currently of the Nats, when as a Met missed two games (one the 2014–2015 season opener) after the birth of his son Noah.
- Sports commentator and retired quarterback Boomer Esiason’s commentary (followed up by an apology) in response to Daniel Murphy’s parental leave. His gagging words? That Murphy’s wife should have had a “c-section before the season.”
- Washington Capitals John Carlson’s remarks on becoming a dad and taking it all in stride, including his shares of “learning to live on a lot less sleep” and loving the smiles from his son.
- Andy Roddick openly and enthusiastically sharing and inviting the world along though wife Brooklyn Decker’s pregnancy — acing his role as supportive, engaged partner and humor-filled papa to baby Hank.
As I shared with The Post, without a clear team policy it is not surprising that LaRoche attempted to define one for himself. He worked to find his own personal success, to combine both his identities of player and parent. And in this case, perhaps the result was a swing and a miss….
And who cannot identify with that?