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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

Carl Crawford Leads Off- Another Baseball Season, Another Paternity Leave

Los Angeles Dodger Carl Crawford will begin the 2014 baseball season on paternity leave, making use of MLB’s forward-thinking policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. I see this as yet another reason to celebrate the beginning of a new baseball season!


Soon-to-be new dad Carl Crawford {Photo by Googie man under Creative Commons license}

(A quick note: Today I have articles published at Good Men Project and Daily Plate of Crazy. Please go check them out. I’ll also re-post them here soon)

Baseball season starts a bit early this year, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23, a full week before traditional opening day.

However, Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford’s wife is expected to have her baby near that date, and he will be the first player of the 2014 season to avail himself of MLB’s paternity leave policy.

Last season, I highlighted several players who took paternity leave (see prior articles here), Here’s a quick summary of the policy:

It is only 72 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. Baseball’s policy, unique among major sports, represents a formal endorsement of the concept of paternity leave. Prior to this policy, players were often excused for a day or two by their teams- but it was totally at management’s discretion, and the team would have to play with the disadvantage of one fewer player on the roster until the new dad returned. Now, teams can call up a player from their minor league system to replace the new dad on the roster for the 2-3 games he misses and the team cannot deny up to a 72-hour leave.

It is refreshing to see progressive family leave policies in the particularly macho and win-at-all-costs alpha male culture of US Major League Sports.

Nick and I are huge baseball fans- even before we knew about their paternity leave policy

Nick and I are huge baseball fans- even before we knew about their paternity leave policy

Last season, I interviewed MLB executive Paul Mifsud about the paternity leave policy. I was pleased to hear that the league, teams, and players association all approved the policy without much debate and that the policy has been universally embraced. In MLB’s view, paternity leave is a common-sense solution because fatherhood is important and it is important to assist valued employees for family reasons. In our interview, Mifsud encapsulated this perfectly:

In such a long season, there’s more of a need for moments of accommodation for appropriate reasons.

Indeed, baseball is a long 7-month season of six games a week. But most of us work even longer 12-month seasons. Thankfully, progressive employers are beginning to see the light and the critical issue of paternity leave has received extensive attention here and elsewhere in the media. I am heartened by this progress.

From the "New Dads" study. Dads don't get (or take) enough paternity leave

From the “New Dads” study. Dads don’t get (or take) enough paternity leave

Progress is still desperately needed. According to Boston College’s Center for Work and Family’s study of working dads:

  1. Almost none take formal paternity leave

  2. 75% of men take one week or less of accumulated time off (sick, personal, vacation days) after the birth of a child

  3. 16% are unable to take any days off after the birth of a child

Considering that dads’ time with children benefits everyone- kids, moms, dads, families, society- we need more support for working dads. Thanks, MLB!

What do you think about MLB’s Paternity Leave Policy? Any paternity leave stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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PS- This season, I will do occasional round-up articles of players who have used Paternity Leave, and would appreciate it if you would let me know if you hear about a player on your favorite team who is making use of the policy. I will also keep a running count on the FWF facebook page and will, at the All-Star break, present the All-Paternity League Team.

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