Parental Leaving Your Senses? Equal Pay For Equal Aces? It's A PC World Of Sports
Take your pick. Adam LaRoche is either Father of the Year or one of the great prima donnas in sports. If you missed it, LaRoche is forsaking his $13 million salary this year because the Chicago White Sox don’t want his 14-year-old son hanging around the team clubhouse all the time. Apparently the young man has been a fixture in the ChiSox dressing room, hanging out, shining shoes, running some errands for players.
But the White Sox management seem to feel he’s a distraction that needs to be cut back if not completely eliminated. So they told LaRoche to leave his kid at home. The team (or some parts of it) responded by threatening to boycott a game. Star pitcher Chris Sale hung the jerseys of LaRoche and his son in his locker. For other players, apparently, it has been a big a distraction to not be able to walk around naked and spit tobacco juice.
Whom to believe? You can bet if LaRoche were a star of Sale’s magnitude, there might have been an accommodation made. But the 36-year-old hit just .207 with 12 homers and 44 RBI in 2015. Guys like that don’t get asked twice to come back for $13 million. So he won’t return anytime soon in the black and silver. That suits some of the players on Chicago just fine.
The White Sox (who’ve been a the bottom of the AL Central the past three years) think the dressing room should be a more adult place for players. Indeed, the often-profane banter of a dressing room is not ideal for a 14-year-old. Players need to get in each others’ faces when accountability is called for— again, no place for a young person. Plus, the naked thing…
Could LaRoche live with less father/ son time? That’s not for others to say. LaRoche wanted father/ son time. How many workplaces allow children to attend with their parents? How many offices are there where everyone is a millionaire or damn near it? If you answered none you’re pretty close to the answer.
But don’t they always say baseball is a boy’s game?
BTW: There’s now a cheeky crowdsourcing site posted now that offers to raise the money LaRoche is losing with his Father-of-the-Year sacrifice. Last we saw there was about $13,000 in the fund.
It’s a controversial issue of political correctness that has stirred up millions. And this time it’s not Donald Trump at the root of the problems. (Just give him time.) It’s the debate over whether female athletes in tennis and golf are equal partners with men or whether their millions come courtesy of the male stars of their sport.
Ray Moore, the unfortunate tennis tournament director at last week in Indian Wells stepped in it up to his ears. “In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men,” Moore said. “They don’t make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”
Serena Williams was unequivocal in her scorn for Williams. ““There’s only one way to interpret that,” she said. “‘Get on your knees,’ which is offensive enough, and ‘thank a man’? We, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”
Saying he has tremendous respect for women players, men’s champion Novak Djokovic tried to straddle the gap. “… The stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches,” Djokovic said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve, and we should fight for what we think we deserve.” In short, outside Serena Williams, he thinks men deserve more money based on production.
A few facts:
1) In some cases (Wimbledon), the purses the two sexes play for are the same or close. But live and on TV for men’s tennis and golf audiences dwarf those of their female counterparts. That’s outside of….
2) Serena. If there’s anyone women players should thank it’s the greatest woman player of all time. Her Grand Slam bid in 2015 saw the women’s U.S. Open final sell out before the men’s final for the first time in tournament history. She deserves every penny she makes (especially when she beats Maria Shriekapova).
3) Men play best-of-five sets, women play best-of-three. In this enlightened age (women run the same distance in the marathon) shouldn’t women play do same? Yes, but. Promoters will tell you five sets of most women’s matches will be disaster for TV ratings.
4) The Olympics are one place where women can often stand equally with men. But they’re once every two years. The WNBA and other women’s pro sports leagues have been a flop with the market. Attempts to start TV sports networks for women have similarly failed. Is this fair? Perhaps not, but it’s a fact.
5) If you think I’m going any further on this topic, you’re crazy.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).