The biggest news in the world of sports seems to be White Sox player Adam LaRoche’s decision to retire rather than cut back on the amount of time his son is allowed to hang out at the clubhouse. It was such big news in Chicago that it appeared above the fold in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune.
I usually pay little attention to sports. But this story has intrigued and puzzled me. I wonder if there is more to the story than meets the eye. On the surface, it seems that LaRoche expects special treatment for himself and his son so that he can spend as much time with him as possible. How many kids get their own locker in the clubhouse of a major sports franchise? In a Tribune story today, LaRoche claimed that this arrangement had been part of his original contract. White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams disagrees.
But why should anyone get to take his or her child to work every day? Unless you work from home or teach at your child’s school, it is unlikely that the organization you work for would be able or willing to accommodate your kids in the workplace. I am all for onsite daycare and making it easier for parents to juggle work and family life. But imagine your child sitting in on client meetings or shadowing Mom or Dad on the sales floor. Baseball is LaRoche’s job, and he gets paid handsomely to do it. Does he really expect to have his family along at all times?
The other thing that puzzles me is that LaRoche’s teammates have come to his defense, and there is even the possibility of a grievance being filed over the issue. It seems the players resent this intrusion from management and say that the presence of LaRoche’s son has not been a problem at all. I have a couple of issues with this. First of all, I don’t think you can really consider this a matter of workers’ rights. And I also doubt that players who do object to having the child around all the time are going to be vocal about it. It just looks bad to say, “I don’t want that kid around here.”
I also think it is unfair to the families of all the other White Sox players to allow so much privilege to one child. I’m sure there are many other players’ children who would be thrilled to be allowed daily access to the baseball environment.
We may never get the whole story behind LaRoche’s retirement. But player Chris Sale’s argument that the incident is somehow destructive to the morale of the team sounds lame. I certainly hope the team doesn’t use it as an excuse if things go south for the South Side team this season.
Meanwhile, we have bigger fish to fry. March Madness, anyone?