Angry At Athletes Who Opt Out? Get A Life.

Doug FrenchFatherhood on Friday

The last few months have been a wasteland for sports fans. With all four major leagues shut down, TV has been mostly reruns, cornhole, and empty conjecture about when normal competition will resume. Now that the NBA and NHL are relaunching their seasons this weekend, rattling around empty courts and rinks, we can get back to trash-talking, odds-making, and debating whether MLB should just pull the plug already.

Sports may not be the same, but that’s not all bad. Consider, for example, the more enlightened way that fans are reacting when athletes announce they’re putting family first and opting out of the season. Remember when the Mets’ Daniel Murphy missed two games at the start of the 2014 season when his son was born, and a bunch of dinosaurs slammed him for it? This time, several dads have decided to sit out the season, deciding to prioritize family, and the response has been amazingly more positive.  

And even when the trolls gotta troll, athletes are ready. Take the case of Marquise Goodwin, the Eagles receiver who has already decided he won’t take the field this year. When fans started getting on him for taking COVID “too seriously,” he responded with an amazing video, revealing his deep regrets over playing football when he and his wife lost their prematurely born son in 2017 and then unborn twin sons in 2018.

“I felt like I should be at home helping my best friend get past the grief.”

The Goodwins have an 18-month-old daughter, and he’s staying home because he’s fortunate enough to afford it, and because “I won’t take the chance of experiencing another loss because of my selfish decision-making. I can’t do it. It’s not something I can live with.”

Sports are great. They encourage a strong work ethic, build self-confidence and teamwork, and are exhilarating to watch and play. But if any athlete can make the difficult decision to walk away for the sake of family — especially for a shortened season full of asterisks — we’ve got their back. 


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