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Wayne Parker

Fatherhood or Football?

By November 9, 2012

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Chicago Bears Charles TillmanI know we talk a lot about work life balance and the need to find that "sweet spot" where we keep faith with our family commitments and where we also respect and provide quality service to our employers.  But in the high stakes world of professional football, balancing those conflicting priorities can be tough and every decision is debated by fans on both sides of the issue.

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles  Tillman finds himself this week right in the middle of the dilemma.  His wide is scheduled to deliver their second child on Monday following the game with the Houston Texans, but he has made it clear to his team and to team management that he will be with his wife when she delivers the baby, whether it is Sunday during the game or not.  Predictably, attitudes about his choice are being expressed from every perspective.  For those for whom football is bigger than life, Houston is a really big game for the Bears and Tillman should have been more responsible and arranged to have a baby in the off season.  Others for whom family is most important, the idea of playing a football game while the player's wife is in labor and delivery is simply unconscionable.

Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay weighed in this week.  Family does need to come first, and Tillman is setting the right example and making the right call.  Consider these quotes from Jason's column.

A mighty game is more fragile enterprise than it seems, and the He-Man rah-rah days need to stop. A new sensitivity is not a bad thing.

Football players--even if they are paid spectacular millions--need to be assured it's OK not to play football when real life intrudes. Of course, if healthy, they can choose to play. The point is, it's a choice. We all have football choices in our lives! You may chose to spend 10 hours this Sunday attached to the TV with bag of sour cream and onion potato chips strapped to your neck. You may think the Jaguars will make the playoffs. I salute your wacky free will.

It is the cliché of clichés, but there are bigger things than football. Charles Tillman should do whatever works for his family. Play or don't play, it's his call. Good for his family. Good for the Bears. This isn't really a debate.

It is always good to be reminded of the importance of family when we feel life getting out of balance.  Taking the long view of life is important for all of us, even the professional football players, the stockbrokers or the executives among us.

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