MLB rule opens debate about paternity leave in sports

Published: Monday, May 16 2011 9:53 p.m. MDT

With Major League Baseball's new rule about paternity leave, a discussion has taken place as to whether athletes should take that time off, or be committed to the team.

Jenya Cassidy wrote that as a baseball fan and a work/family advocate she was in the unique position of cheering for the Texas Rangers' Colby Lewis when he took the leave, despite the fact that her fan counterparts were offering criticism and work/family advocates were in support.

New York magazine had a reaction from New York Mets manager, Terry Collins, when Jason Bay also took paternity leave:

"Twenty-five years ago nobody left," Collins said. "Nobody went to weddings. You played because the season was six months long or five months long and you stayed. But the rules changed and that's part of the Basic Agreement now, but they got this rule which helps you so you don't lose a player and you can keep a core roster. We adjust to it. (But) I'm sure the wives are happier."

The article also mentioned the backlash that Dallas Observer reporter Richie Whitt received when he criticized Lewis. Whitt had written: "If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous."

ESPN's Marc Stein provides an example where an NBA player didn't take time away from the game. Shane Battier of the Memphis Grizzlies found out his wife had given birth to their second child after he made a 3-pointer against the Spurs in Game 1.

Rangers president Nolan Ryan echoed Collins' sentiment when he said on the radio: "In those days they never allowed you to go home for a child to be born." The Rangers did support Lewis' decision, though.

Collins and Ryan may not be happy about the new way of doing things, especially since it means they have to work with the roster changes, but if they were players today, or if the rules had been that way back then, it would be interesting to see what stance they would take.

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