Sportscasters Apologize, But Do They Miss the Point?
On Friday, April 4, sportscasters Boomer and Carton apologized for their remarks criticizing baseball player Daniel Murphy’s decision to miss two games to be with his wife after the birth of their child. Boomer and Carton seemed to be shocked to have been taken seriously, and truly sorry that they had caused an annoyance and distraction for Murphy. So how did the apology measure up to my hopes for where this conversation, now started, might proceed? Boomer did most of the talking. It started well: “I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that. That’s their decision, that’s their life and they know their bodies better than I do.” Well, actually, he originally said that if he were in Murphy’s situation, he would have demanded a pre-season cesarean. But I’ll call this a reasonable clarification. But then, ““That is my fault for uttering the word ‘C-section’ on this radio station. And it all of a sudden put their lives under a spotlight, and for that I truly apologize.” Well, yes, it is kind of obnoxious to second-guess someone’s family and medical decisions on air. But on the other hand, it would be too bad to go back to censoring the words “c-section.” He then thanked the March of Dimes for reaching out to him to “patiently re-educate” him, and reminded the public that he was a longtime supporter of the organization. But he didn’t explain to his listenership why the March of Dimes had called: the organization has an active campaign to discourage early induction of birth, because it can have long term bad effects on children. It would have been a great moment for Boomer to actually say something useful, but he failed to take it. And then he closed by defending Carton’s remarks about Murphy taking more than a few hours away from baseball. He reiterated that seeing the baby being born is a really important moment, and that Boomer and Carton had themselves been present for their babies’ births. Clearly, this brouhaha did not lead them to rethink their notion of the father’s responsibilities when his baby is born. They still see it as, “baby comes out, I cut the cord, job done.” An apology is a start, but clearly, there are plenty of further conversations to be had.