Sunday, April 6, 2014

Daniel Murphy is No Hero

You did see that correctly.  The NY Mets pitcher who took paternity leave is NOT a hero.  If you take nothing else away from this, please stop repeating how brave, righteous, or any other adjective you use to describe this man other than normal.  And if this is normal then that makes me sad.

Before we get into that we will need to establish some ground rules for this conversation.

#1 Boomer Esiason, his radio co-host, and anyone who agrees with him is an asshat.  I would challenge you to find one reasonable person who agrees with what they had to say.  If you haven’t seen what they had to say, you will need to Google it.  I refuse to even provide the link to their ignorant words. 

#2 The fact that this is a sport shouldn't really come into the equation.  Listen Daniel Murphy does play a game, a sport that is just entertainment.  Let’s not break down the conversation comparing football players to baseball players, by equating the number of games they play, to their importance.  Let’s not go in the other direction though, and diminish the value sports play in our society, or the financial importance that they provide to their communities. I can assure you that to the employees of the stadium, these events are much more than a game. 

#3 Every family should do what is right by them.  Although I do not believe that Daniel Murphy is a hero, I also don’t want to be the type of person to judge decisions made by others.  Sometimes parents make decisions that I would not, and I’m sure that I make poor decisions in others eyes as well.  We need to get to a place where doing it differently is not the same as doing it wrong. 
Now…Let’s get started.

The MLB collective bargaining agreement allows for players to take 3 days of paternity leave.  When Murphy was lambasted by Esiason for taking those three days, many came to his defense.  HERE is just one example that I enjoyed reading.

Many people talked about how righteous Murphy was for taking his three days leave, and raised him up as an example of the modern father for his actions.  After all, not terribly long ago, men were still in the waiting room when their children were born. 

THREE DAYS???  Every American (male or female) is entitled to 12 weeks of leave for a newborn.  Even in the case of adoption you deserve 12 weeks.  There are many, many societal and medical examples of how important the first 12 weeks are for your child. 

Let’s not lose sight of #3, but let’s also not lose focus of the bigger picture.

Daniel Murphy literally did the very least he could do.  In fact had he done less, many would have judged him for being a poor role model of fatherhood.  It would appear to me, there are only three categories that modern fathers get lumped into.  On the low end we have the douche-bag dads, who although a shrinking number, still garner the most attention and media representation. 

Then there is a large group of present dads.  If they were doctors their creed would be, ‘Do no harm.’ They are engaged, work very hard for their families, and on the weekends they will play catch.

Lastly, there is a smaller, but growing group, of superheroes.  I’m sure by now you may even know one of them, ahem.  You would have seen them changing a diaper, making dinner, doing chores around the house, taking their kids with them to do errands, or you know being a normal PARENT who takes care of their children.

Trust and believe that I am no fan off the douche-bag dads. But, I also don’t think that the superhero dads have done anything worthy of their current lofty status.  The small gap between these groups is VERY concerning.  I have joked in the past that in order to be a good dad all I had to do was to not hit the wife or children and bring home a paycheck.  The difference between poor and average is literally physical violence.  We need to widen that gap. We should think of ourselves as politicians, you know helping the middle class. 

Similarly, the difference between average and superhero is the difference between 2 and 3 days leave???  When we raise up Daniel Murphy’s actions to superhero status we further erode our expectations of fatherhood.  Do you know what would have been amazing?  Had he taken his 12 weeks of federally protected paternity leave. 

Yes, his job is how he takes care of his family, and it is important for him to earn money, so I don’t begrudge him going back to work…I just like to imagine.  Imagine if every expecting father saw athletes taking 12 weeks to bond with their child.

So, let’s move the conversation forward people.  Don’t repeat the lie that Daniel Murphy is a hero. 

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