NEW YORK (MainStreet) Apparently baseball and babies just don't mix. When New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy missed the first two games of the season for the birth of his first child, his brief paternity leave sparked outrage from former football player, now sports commentator Boomer Esiason, among others.
But this is not the first time baseball as balked at a paternity leave. Colby Lewis of the Texas Rangers was the first player to avail himself of Major League Baseball's 72-hour paternity leave policy back in 2011, missing a game to witness the birth of his daughter. Fans and critics alike pitched a fit.
At the time, Richie Whitt, sports columnist for the Dallas Observer 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."
The comment almost exactly matches Esiason's tirade made just this week.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted in 1993, allows both women and men who work for a company of 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child.
But research conducted by the Boston College Center for Work and Family reveals that three-quarters of new fathers opted to take only one week off.
The study cites the fear of losing a job and a cultural stigma against paternity leave as the primary reasons why more men don't time off to be with mother and newborn.
"Organizational and societal expectations, unwittingly or not, send signals to fathers that work needs to be their primary focus, and that too much time taking care of family matters may have serious impact on their careers," the Boston College study says. "Although many companies recognize the shifts that are occurring in terms of the needs of working fathers, there is still much to be done to adapt to and fully recognize fathers' increased role as caregivers."
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet