If you don’t follow baseball, I don’t know how much coverage has been given to Adam LaRoche’s retirement outside the sports pages. Long story short: Part of his contract is that his son is allowed in the clubhouse – the White Sox decided they wanted to curtail it, and he decided to walk away.
The Washington Post says it’s opened a conversation that is bigger than baseball. And they’re not wrong. But I still have more questions than answers as to how this whole conversation is being framed.
First, let me say I have no disagreement with Adam LaRoche’s decision. He decided that management’s change of heart was unacceptable and he had the resources and will to step away and that’s fine.
But I have some issues with the conversation.
— I don’t want to hear the word “sacrifice” here. If you are financially stable enough that you can turn down a 13 million dollar salary to spend more time with your family – that is a choice, and a luxury choice at that.
— As far as White Sox management is concerned – I know you gotta do what you gotta do to get talent. But if you didn’t really want the kid in the clubhouse, why did you agree to it? Did you think he’d get bored and not want to come around and the “problem” would solve itself? Or that Dad wasn’t really serious about the request? (Personally, I don’t think it’s an appropriate place for a kid in the first place, and would have said so – but this is probably why I am not in charge of bringing talent for my ballclub.)
— By all accounts, LaRoche’s teammates didn’t have a problem with his son being around (fortunately it seems he’s a good kid) – but how is it fair to his other teammates who have kids that *his* kid gets to come around and theirs don’t? Or his teammates that just really don’t want any kid in the clubhouse, but didn’t feel they could say anything? Yes, I know – everyone negotiates their own contract, but still…this is the type of thing that can definitely breed some resentment in the workplace.
— I don’t have children – more by circumstance than choice, but it’s been better all around for me – I realize I don’t have the time or patience for modern parenting. But when did the workplace stop being an adult place? No, I don’t hate children. But unless my job actually involves kids, I don’t want them wandering around my workplace. (Yes, I realize that saying this out loud virtually guarantees that I will get a job where everyone brings their kids in.)
— Finally – if this was a woman making this decision to step away from a high paying position – sports, CEO, whatever – would we even be talking about her dedication to her family? Or a “sacrifice”? Or lauding her as some kind of parental heroine? Or would we just hear yet again, “This justifies women being paid less and/or not being moved up the ranks – they just up and leave anyway.”?
I hope Adam LaRoche is happy and at peace with his decision, and that his son understands and appreciates it. But let’s not pretend that it was anything other than a luxury for him to make that decision – and it’s a decision that many people – men and women alike – simply cannot afford to make.