August 11, 2013

Husbands should say no

Professional golfer Hunter Mahan made headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

Well, not ALL the wrong reasons. He didn’t assault anyone with the intent to cause bodily harm. He didn’t fool around with golf groupies behind his wife’s back. He didn’t fail to replace a divot or surreptitiously nudge his golf ball out from behind a tree.

What Mahan did to garner worldwide attention is pack up and leave in the middle of the Canadian Open golf tournament — which he was winning — to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

How did society get to this point?

Setting aside what some might consider his wife’s selfish decision to go into labor at that particular time, rather than waiting for a Tuesday, what is it that made Mahan surrender glory and a better-than-average chance at a million-dollar payday?

Mahan certainly isn’t the first athlete to miss time because of a child’s birth. Basketball players have skipped games. Major League Baseball even has a paternity leave for its players.

Football players … well, they generally have their wives induce labor, any time but on a Sunday afternoon.

Sure, regular everyday folk take time away from work for the birth of their children, too. There aren’t millions of people, though, watching Fred the accountant input numbers into a spreadsheet. There isn’t a fortune on the line when Gil, the social-studies teacher, turns his class over to a substitute.

There was a time, not really that long ago, when men weren’t supposed to be in the delivery room at all. They would drop their wives off at the hospital and go to the nearest bar for a stiff drink. Or they would sit in the waiting room smoking cigars and waiting for a nurse to come in proclaiming, “It’s a boy!”

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