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Baseball player wants paternity leave and the country's gone mad


(Colby Lewis, photo by Brandon Wade/AP)

There's a huge hoopla going just because Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis’ decided to be at the birth of his child instead of pitching a game.

Has the country gone mad?

Here's the reaction his decision got from Dallas Observer writer Richie Whitt:

Whitt 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. If it was a first child, maybe. But a second child causing a player to miss a game? Ludicrous."

 Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux: "I don't know why we didn't have it before. I've longed for the day we would. We have the bereavement list and to some, this is for something that's even more sacred."

A BlogHer blogger wrote: Wow. Whitt’s column, even if it was just intended to grab attention, makes it easier to understand why women, and mothers in particular, face discrimination at work.

Baseball Nation entered into the debate, too, : "As a human being, I think this is fantastic. As a baseball fan, though? If my team's in the playoff hunt, I'm sorry, but I don't want one of my starting pitchers taking the night off. We're not talking about some guy who works on the assembly line for the Integrated Widget Corporation. We're talking about one of the most talented pitchers on the planet, not easily replaceable. What if your team finishes one game short of the playoffs? Was it really worth it?"

Some background: The paternity leave list is new to baseball this season, allowing a team to replace a player on the active roster for up to three days for the birth of a child. The change was discussed last fall at the general managers’ meetings.

We all know that dads want to be more involved in parenting. This is nothing new. Companies began offering paternity leave at least a decade ago. So, it's a little surprising that Colby has become the topic of debate in the media.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. is the only Western country that does not mandate paid parental leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates unpaid parental leave for the majority of American workers.

I know, we're talking about American's sacred BASEBALL. In baseball a few hours — or minutes — can change history. What if the birth occurs during Game 7 of the World Series?

There are no easy answers, but I'm glad the country's having this public debate. Parents have been making tough choices about work and family for at least two decades, if not longer. And, as a country, we've been quick to criticize the choices and sacrifices mothers have made. Now, it's dads' turn and I think that shows we've made progress.

Men should be thankful to Major League Baseball for providing the option and to Colby Lewis for taking advantage of his choices whether or not his decisions are popular. Taking paternity leave, even in Corporate America, can be intimidating. It's all about priorities.

Readers, do you think men should get paternity leave? Do you think it makes a difference what kind of job they hold?