OK, so former NFL quarterback turned sports commentator Norman Julius “Boomer” Esiason (yeah, your real name is “Norman Julius,” donkey) for CBS Sports and New York radio station WFAN, led a posse of DJs this week in condemning the New York Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing baseball’s opening day March 31.
To be with his wife for the birth of their first child, Noah.
(It was also my OWN birthday! Which makes it that much more awesome. Noah I’m sending you a savings bond. Anyway…)
There’s no paraphrasing or mistaking Boomer’s thoughts on this—the video is everywhere. Although MLB players do have paternity leave, Boomer and company claimed it is for two weeks.
It’s actually just three days. Murphy took two. (And the Mets lost to my Washington Nationals, which hey, let’s face it, was inevitable anyway so…)
Although Esiason admitted Murphy’s right to miss work, he said, “Bottom line, that’s not me. I wouldn’t do that.”
And…(drum roll please)
“Quite frankly I woulda said C-section before the season starts, I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry.”
In other words, he would have demanded his wife schedule a MAJOR SURGICAL PROCEDURE so he could chase a little white ball around rather than witness the most amazing feat of human existence. And thumb his nose at the dubious state of workplace fairness in America—for women and men.
Esiason expounded on how this philosophy would give the child opportunity for success because he could “afford any college I wanna send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”
Meanwhile, his radio partner Craig Carton affirmed him, saying, “Assuming the birth went well, the wife is fine, the baby is fine, 24 hours and then you get your ass back to your team and you play baseball.”
Oh, well in that case.
Another New York radio announcer and father of three, Mike Francesca, called paternity leave a “scam” and explained it this way:
“What are you going to do? I mean you are going to sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days? Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days; you know that you’re not doing much the first couple days with the baby that was just born.”
Yeah, a wife whose body just created an entirely new human being doesn’t need any help.
OK. I know these guys are paid to be edgy. I don’t even have kids, and I know I should continue to tee off on this. How such statements undermine the fabric of male roles in the family and discount the danger still, in 2014, of giving birth—any birth, even in a first world country.
According to a 2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, “Why Are So Many U.S. Women Dying During Childbirth?” each year “about 700 U.S. women die of pregnancy-related complications and 52,000 experience emergencies such as acute renal failure, shock, respiratory distress, aneurysms and heart surgery. An additional 34,000 barely avoid death.” [emphasis added. MINE!]
But the positive side of this I see are the dads (thank you) but especially the women sports fans who are speaking up against Esiason and his merry band of buffoons.
Our XX chromosome watches an XX-large amount of sports—it is estimated that 46% percent of baseball’s fan base is women, the largest of all pro sports. And 44% of NFL fans are women according to an ESPN survey. We deserve more respect than to be relegated to some 1950s sitcom where one day there’s suddenly a baby, no muss, no fuss, while the women do the work and the men smoke cigars. Oh Lucy, har har har!
We listen to your shows, too, sports jocks. And guess what? We may make only 70 cents to your dollar, but in most American households, we control all the dollars, including money spent on, let’s say…baseball uniforms? Gas to practices and games? Volleyball matches? Pep rallies?
Ohhh, right. Suddenly kids are all fun and games again, Boomer? Especially to the mom’s who have jobs of their own, but they don’t miss games either. But hey, they can take all the time off they want, right? I mean, it’s not like they’re baseball players or something.
But to be fair: Boomer has been a tireless advocate of a cure for cystic fibrosis, which his son Gunnar, 22, has. Boomer also has a wife and a daughter. His foundation has raised more than $100 million. I really, truly tip my cap to him for this. I can only hope this situation will bring awareness to this disease and the research and care for women and children in a country ranked 34th in the world for infant mortality. Know who comes in right ahead of us? Cuba. CUBA!
There is one thing more American than baseball in this country. It’s family. And there’s a reason Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” makes every man cry. The dad misses all the big moments of his son’s life, and by the time he realizes it, well, it’s…too…it’s too…sniff…
Nevermind. I hope Boomer will listen to it about 100 times, apologize, and we can reap some benefit from his big mouth.