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Why is Daniel Murphy's Paternity Leave a Story?

I realize that there's some inherent level of stupidity in "viral" discussions, but still, what seems to be behind the latest argument is surprisingly anti-fatherhood.

daniel-murphy-ny-metsEarlier this week New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy exercised a clause in his Major League Baseball contract that allows him to skip a few games for paternity leave so he could be present at his first child's birth, and subsequently stay with his wife and new baby for a few days before he goes back to his grueling pro athlete schedule.

In response, a couple of sports commentators at WFAN radio in New York City not only criticized him on air for not prioritizing his obligation to the team properly (they apparently think paternity leave is stupid and not for "real men"), but even suggested that his wife should have had a c-section so the birth would have been more conveniently scheduled between Mets games.

Obviously, these two guys are chowderheads just looking for publicity (which I'm trying to avoid by not naming them here), but it still raises the question: why is this a story that's gotten any attention in the first place?

What really bothers me is that we are still at a point where men need to lobby for paternity leave and where other men are unsupportive when a father decides to take some time off from his job to be with his wife and newborn child... and that we are still at a point where this is even a discussion at all.

I believe Murphy is absolutely right to make this decision regardless of the consequences for the NY Mets baseball team, and that the WFAN commentators are just showing that they deserve our pity and our sympathy for being knuckle-dragging primates in the modern world.

What's your take? Should the needs of the team ever outweigh family, and if so, when?

And congratulations to Daniel and his wife on the addition of a new family member.

"Home Run" on DVD July 23!

"I spent a lifetime looking to replace the love I didn't get from my father." —Cory Brand

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the DVD release of Home Run on July 23.

Can't view the video? Click here.

You may recall, we wrote a blog post for this faith-based film while it was in theaters called The Possibility of Freedom. If you love us, click and read the full post, here's an excerpt from that profound and life-changing blog post:

  • Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull DurhamFor the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements: 1) There's something bigger than yourself for which to live. 2) It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life. In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself.

Want more details on the film? Keep reading...

From the Home Run website:

  • Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control. Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. 
  • Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible. As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future…and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.
     
What People Have Said After Watching Home Run...
home run the movie dvd
"Home Run is a film of great hope." —Rick Warren, Pastor and Best-Selling Author
"It's a wonderful movie. It touches your heart in a way that will change your life." —Brett Butler, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"Home Run is a powerful parable showing us what God can do for a person who hits bottom. Many who come from dysfunctional homes or deal with addictions will find a ray of hope as they watch this film. This is a tool churches and ministries can use now and for decades to come." —Michael Catt, Best-Selling Author; Senior Pastor, Sherwood Baptist Church; Executive Producer, Fireproof and Courageous
"Home Run is not only a great movie, it's a story of hope that people have to see. " —Dwight Evans, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"It's a powerful movie. I have to be honest it was emotional for me to watch." —Ben Zobrist, All-Star Baseball Player


Follow Home Run via Social...

Home Run DVD releases on July 23. See our Home Run page for more details. 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor. 

The Possibility of Freedom

At NFI, we like to say dads should be "involved, responsible and committed." In the new movie Home Run, we see what happens when someone isn't "involved, responisble or committed."

If you can't see the video above, visit our Home Run page for details.

Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements:

  1. There's something bigger than yourself for which to live.
  2. It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life.

In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself. While Home Run doesn't have Kevin Costner, I decided to break from watching The Bodyguard and review this film. As I watched, I was reminded of several life lessons. Here are two lessons that stuck out with me:

  1. Change Takes Work...
    Cory Brand, the big league baseball star in this film, makes his share of mistakes. In one game, he skips the third base when running bases and this sets everything in motion for a big crash in Cory's life. The interesting thing is, as Cory struggles to recover from his mistakes, he is given the job of overseeing the third base duties of a local little league team. Cory learns that to right his wrongs, he'll need to be ready to work. 
     
  2. ...But You Can Change.
    As long as we are living, there's time to change, to make things right. As long as you have time, change is possible. Cory goes from playing in the big leagues to overseeing a little league team. In this film, we see a real picture of struggle against past and years of mistakes. 

This film is full of important messages. Sometimes, like in real life, the mistakes in this film aren't easy to watch. But if you watch closely, you'll leave the theater reminded that there are things bigger than yourself for which to live, that purpose takes sacrifice, that change isn't easy, but change is possible. 

In your opinion, what's the greatest sports movie ever made?


Connect with The Father Factor by 
RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Cecil and Prince Fielder Have Long Road In Rebuilding Their Bond

While Detroit Tigers fans are no doubt celebrating the signing of All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder, the slugger returns to the place where his father Cecil won a World Series Championship – a father that he’s been at odds with for quite some time over reasons only known to them. Prince Fielder will undoubtedly face dozens of questions regarding the estranged relationship between him and his dad, although the elder Fielder has said the he’s been in brief contact with Prince.

“Well, we're having a few chats. We're doing a lot better than we were,” said Cecil Fielder Tuesday (January 24) on MLB Network Radio. “Time heals all wounds, man. Everybody has to come back together at some point. Number one thing, I'm just happy for him.”

Those words were a far cry from the violent talk from Fielder’s dad from last summer. Cecil told the Yuma Sun that he “wanted to drop a right on him instead of talking” to his son. In what should have been the feel-good story of the upcoming Major League Baseball season, the feud between the Fielders is still a prominent and tense issue.

Cecil Fielder and Prince’s mother Stacy underwent a tough divorce, which some writers say led to the split between father and son. Others have alleged that Cecil spent part of his son’s signing bonus without permission, and was embroiled in battling gambling and property debt issues as well.

Prince Fielder has never publicly addressed the split at length but the married father of two could possibly benefit in rebuilding the connection with the man he joined on the baseball field during spring training in 1994. News alternative Detroit Free Press even reprinted an old 1992 article featuring a story on Cecil Fielder and his baseball prodigy son, where young Prince even said his dad was the best homerun hitter in the game. Cleary at one point, they were inseparable and loving towards one another.

If Cecil’s words are true, perhaps they can reform their bond and give sons like myself and countless others hope. Hope that even those of us who don’t have our fathers in our lives that one day, we can try to rebuild the bonds. As Duk of the Big League Stew said eloquently of the Fielders’ situation in his column: fathers shouldn’t be apart from their sons.

Cleveland Indians Player Chris Perez Is Lucky To Have His Dad

It seems par for the course that fathers seek to bond with their kids – especially boys – playing the age-old game of catch, whether with a football or baseball. There’s something innate about that activity between fathers and sons; perhaps it’s an instinctive reminder for Dad that he once did this with his own dad – or at least wished he had. It’s something I definitely wished I shared with my own dad.

When I read the tale of MLB All-Star pitcher Chris Perez, and how he and his dad Tim bonded over Chris’ inclusion in the big name lineup last year, I confess I felt a tinge of envy. However, I’m glad to see that there are sons who look up to and value their dads even as they trudge along into adulthood and families of their own.

Perez shared with sports website The Bleacher Report on how he gifted his father with his 2011 All-Star ring, making it five sizes larger so that his dad could wear it.

Perez on the trying to surprise his father with the ring:

“Before entering the brunch, they handed out All-Star rings. When I picked mine up, they asked me to try it on. (I already had planned to give the ring to my Dad, so I had told them to make the ring 5 sizes too big for me.) My Dad was right next to me and noticed how big it was on me. I tried to play it off, but he kept making a deal about it.

Flash forward to after the game, my family and I are relaxing back in the hotel, and I pulled out the ring and gave it to him. He was shocked/surprised/happy/speechless. I couldn't think of anyone else that deserved the ring more than him; he's the reason I love the game, and the reason I became an All-Star.”

Chris Perez didn’t enter the game last year at the Midsummer Classic, but it’s a neat story showing that no matter how old you are as a son, you always want to please and gain the respect of your dad. Sometimes it’s tough to show our dads how much we love and adore them as adults, but I know as I speak for myself and other fathers that it never gets redundant to know that your children love you.

Tim Perez summed up his feelings about getting the ring from his son in a quick interview last summer. “I wasn't expecting it. We were in the room, and Chris just said 'I want to give you something,'" Tim Perez said to the Bradenton Herald. "My first reaction was, 'Son this is your ring. And he says 'No, dad, I wouldn't here without you.' I wasn't expecting anything. I was just a dad supporting his son.”

Tim Perez and his amazing humility is the very reason why fatherhood has to return to the forefront of the conversation when talking about combating societal ills. When a father does the right thing for his children, they become adults who respect the value and importance of what it means to be a dad when their time comes to be handed the torch.

Sure, I may pine for a time for my dad and I to have a similar bonding experience and I still have my baseball glove and ball from when I was 12 years old at the ready. Hopefully one day soon, my dad and I will have a moment to share and call our own just like Tim and Chris Perez.

Until then, I can only admire them from afar.

How Baseball and Military Dads Motivated Me

This is a guest post by NFI's Director of Military Programming, Tim Red, who heads the organization's efforts to help the U.S. military add fatherhood programming to its work to support military families, pre-, during, and post-deployment.

As a Texas-based dad, baseball fan, and guy who works to support military fathers, last week was a rough one for me. Here's why.

As you have probably heard, a tragedy occurred last week at a Texas Rangers baseball game. Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old father (and firefighter for the Brownwood, TX Fire Department) lunged to catch a ball that was tossed into the crowd by player Josh Hamilton. He stumbled and fell over the railing 20 feet down to the concrete. He was conscious when they left the stadium and voiced concern about his 6-year-old son who was alone up in the stands and had witnessed his dad fall. Stone had driven a couple of hours from Brownwood to Arlington to take his son to his first Rangers game, and they had stopped at a sporting goods store to buy a new glove in the hopes that they would snag a ball at the game.

Stone had a massive heart attack on his way to the hospital and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Hamilton, the most important ball player for the Texas Rangers, is also a dad. He came back to baseball four years ago after years of drug abuse. His experiences have made him a very humble superstar, and as a father, he has talked about how Stone's death has affected him. He plans on reaching out to Stone's wife and son and helping them "when the time is right." He knows, as a dad himself, what a dads' sudden absence can mean to a family, and he wants to help.

On top of hearing about this heart-wrenching tragedy non-stop in the Dallas news, I also read four distressing testimonies by military dads. They were distressing in the respect that these dads are looking for answers about how to better support their families, but they are not finding them within the current support structures in the military. As a retired National Guard dad, I want them to have these answers. NFI wants them to have these answers. But it has been a slow process changing a "military family culture" that has been so focused on the stay-at-home family that it often forgets that dads need help, too.

But I am going to turn lemons into lemonade and use these dads' testimonies as weapons to use in my negotiations with Military Family Programs around the country. I am hopeful that these dads' words will show folks just how important it is to support our nation's military fathers.

My rough week, as hard as it was, really reminded me that the work we do here at NFI is more important than ever. So, watch out - I have some lemonade to make!

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