Zach Britton and Greg Holland, the closers for the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, who face off against each other in the American League Championship Series starting tomorrow, became dads this past week. Congrats to the new dads, and a reminder of how employer and societal attitudes are shifting.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that two of the great loves of my life are fatherhood and baseball (Amy’s the other). Well, October means the playoffs and World Series, but for two players, October also means new fatherhood.
Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals and Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles, who face off against each other in the American League Championship Series starting tomorrow, became dads this past week. This is the first trip to the playoffs for either player, and, for Holland and the Royals, in particular, it has been a wild ride. However, the excitement of playoff baseball, I’m sure, pales in comparison to their joy and excitement they feel at the birth of their children.
You may remember the opening weekend of the season, when Mets player Daniel Murphy took a two-game paternity leave upon the birth of his son. Some radio loudmouths blasted him for being an unmanly slacker, causing a media circus (which turned out to be very good for my career, as I commented on this situation for CBS This Morning and wrote an oped for the Wall Street Journal). However, I was heartened when the public came out strongly in favor of Murphy’s right to take his very short paternity leave, standing up for dads and their work-family concerns. I took this as a sign that society is beginning to come around on working fathers’ issues.
Major League Baseball implemented a paternity leave policy after the 2011 season and over 100 players have made use of it. I can’t remember any player, except for Murphy, who was criticized for taking leave either by his team or the public (even baseball villain Ryan Braun was supported as he took his paternity leave as his Milwaukee Brewers were fading from playoff contention). Neither Holland nor Britton used the 3-game leave to which they are entitled (with the extra days off built into the playoff schedule, they were able to manage). However, they both left their teams to be at the births, and, in fact, Holland, who only typically pitches the 9th inning, arrived at the stadium during the 4th inning of the Royals’ series-clinching win over the Angels (Holland pitched the 9th and earned the save).
At any rate, I’m just excited that baseball players and CEOs are keeping public attention on the under-appreciated concerns of working dads. While baseball players and CEOs make headlines, the goal is to have all of us, the more everyday working father- trying hard to balance career and family- be supported by employers and society.
And progress is sorely needed. Despite the benefits to dads, families and employers, paternity leave is out of the reach of too many dads, leaving them to cobble together accumulated time off or even miss out on precious family moments. Too few of us have the workplace flexibility and support we need to be fully involved parents.
So, this month, enjoy the baseball playoffs and the slow but steady progress. Then, let’s get back to work.
What do you think of the increasing public attention to fathers’ concerns? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
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