Children in the Workplace
Last week the issue of children in the workplace became an emotional one for the Chicago White Sox and their DH, Adam LaRoche. The issue came to a head when team executive, Kenny Williams, asked LaRoche not to bring his 14 year old son, Drake, around the team as often this year. Drake, apparently a well-liked kid who is home schooled, was in the locker room and ballfield for virtually every spring training and regular season game last year and was intending to be this year as well.
LaRoche took umbrage at Williams asking him to reduce his son’s presence and abruptly retired, forgoing the final year of his contract worth $13 Million. (It should be noted that, while not specifically relevant, LaRoche played poorly last year and hit .207 with 12 homers, and at age 36 was on his last year of his contract and likely in his last year in the majors).
LaRoche positioned his retirement as directly related to the Sox unwillingness to allow his son daily and constant access. He claims that this was “promised” to him when he signed his contract with the White Sox. A few teammates came to his defense and considered boycotting the next spring training game. Both Adam LaRoche and his son were well liked and there didn’t appear specific issue that caused the Sox to change their policy, though there were reports that some players didn’t enjoy having LaRoche’s son as a virtual team member.
It’s easy to side with LaRoche and his son in what sounds like a very nice father-son relationship…….but I don’t.
LaRoche sounds like a good dad with a good son. Nonetheless, I have a definite management perspective that cringes at the idea that any child of any player being allowed 100% access to the locker room, for obvious reasons. For example:
1. What if the manager chose to reprimand, or bench, LaRoche for his poor performance? (A .207 batting average might cause that) Does he have to worry about LaRoche being criticized in front of his son?
2. What if another player wanted to bring their child into the locker room daily and their kid was irritating? How would you handle it if it was the son of their best player?
3. Even if Drake LaRoche was a wonderful kid, do other players really need to think about what they should say in the locker room? What if LaRoche didn’t hustle on a play, are other players banned from giving LaRoche appropriate grief?
I ran two ad agencies in the 90s. We had “bring your child to work” days and there were certainly times when a parent got into a child care bind and a child would come to work. All these were highly understandable, but thankfully no one ever wanted to bring their child to work daily.
I realize that major league baseball is an entertainment business and having kids around is a wonderful thing, and to be expected. But I also think daily access is over the top and it is not at all unreasonable for management to create some ground rules. It is their prerogative to do so.
LaRoche fell on his sword, retired, and snubbed his nose at the Sox and the $13 Million. That’s his prerogative too. But he’s not the “dad of the year” for doing so. I’m with Williams on this one.
PS Carolyn, Carl–I love you, but I don’t want to spend every working day with you (Good news is that I know you feel likewise)