By Justin Lasher
During CSNNE’s postgame show of Monday’s Boston Celtic’s game, radio personality, Mike Felger, lit into Al Horford about missing Monday’s game for the birth of his child. A Sports Illustrated article written by Kenny Ducey quotes Felger as saying, “He had the birth of his kid in Atlanta,” Felger said. “The game was in Miami. I know when you make $30 million a year it ain’t much to get a private jet. [Celtics co-owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] would probably pick it up to fly down at 3 o’clock in Atlanta. It’s about a 90-minute flight to Atlanta. Play the game and come right back.”
I have so many things to say about Felger’s arrogant, insensitive, and out of touch of reality comments and take on Horford’s decision to miss the game to be present for the birth of a child. Having two young boys myself (both of whom I was present for their births), this touches home for me. I will attempt in the following paragraphs to convey my thoughts in a rational and professional manner.
First of all, I want to applaud Al Horford for being present for the birth of his baby, and for being there for his wife. We live in a world where Horford, being in the spotlight as he is, is in a lose-lose situation. People like Mike Felger would have criticized Horford no matter what decision he made. I’m sure Felger would have lit into Horford for being selfish and playing in the game and missing the birth, had Horford went that route. Their argument would have been that Horford isn’t stepping up and fulfilling his duty to be a good father and wife and choosing his career over his family. Let me state it again, Al Horford absolutely made the right decision.
People like Mike Felger, when they open their mouths and have opinions like this are taking the emotion out of sports. What they forget is that athletes, like everyone else, are human and have priorities, other than the sport they play. They have allegiances that mean more to them sometimes then their sport, team, and city for which they represent. Life is about emotion. Sports are about emotion. Somewhere over time we have lost the ability to understand that athletes have personal lives too, and that some decisions they make will be made without the best interest of their team in mind. Since when can we fault someone for putting themselves first? Life, after all is about so much more than work.
As I mentioned earlier, I was present for the birth of both of my boys and if I had missed either one, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. There are some few and precious moments that life grants you that you just can’t get back, and certainly can’t be replicated. Child birth is one of those moments. Playing in a basketball game is something that Al Horford gets to experience almost nightly. Being present for the birth of your child is not something that occurs everyday. It is here, that I question Mike Felger’s emotional stability. I mean if you disagree with Horford’s decision and don’t see the importance in what he did, that is one thing, but to go and more or less state that the guy had an obligation to play Monday’s game regardless of what was happening in his personal life is completely out of line and inhuman.
How many times do we hear everyone say that sports is a business? We hear this phrase used all the time. Well, I hate to break it to Mike Felger, but Al Horford playing basketball for the Boson Celtics is no different than him working for CSNNE. It’s a job. No more, no less. I took two weeks off when my oldest was born, and one week for the birth of my youngest. We would chastise our employer if we weren’t allowed time off if we were in Horford’s shoes. I can’t tell you one person I have come into contact with that has children that hasn’t at least taken the day off on which they were born. So, Felger’s opinion here that Horford should have played Monday night somehow places more importance on the job (playing basketball) then reality.
In conclusion, I say this Mike Felger, just give it a rest. Someone should take the microphone away from you. After hearing your opinion on Al Horford’s decision, I have heard enough, and don’t need to hear anything more you have to say.