Good fathers matter. That wasn’t meant to be a provocative statement, but unfortunately in today’s society, the role fathers play in their children’s lives is frequently dismissed, diminished, and often mocked.
As another Father’s Day rolls past we will undoubtedly read and hear our fair share of wonderful homages to fathers. Hopefully in a fresh take, I want to bring up another value fathers bring their children that is rarely discussed. That being the positive impact of fathers on their children’s career. It is no coincidence that as children living in single parent homes (mostly without fathers) have ballooned to over 50 percent, our nation's labor participation rate has dropped to near record lows. Good fathers are vital to the success of our next generation of workers.
I have spent most of my life working in professional sports, and the obvious correlation between good fathering and a healthy career occurred to me the other day while watching a baseball game and seeing Delino Deshields, Jr. bat leadoff for the Texas Rangers. You see, Delino Deshields, Jr.’s father is Delino Deshields, Sr., who was also a Major League player. This is far from an anomaly in Major League Baseball, where there have been more than 200 father/son combinations. From the famous Griffeys, who even played in the same game together, to the talented and controversial Barry and Bobby Bonds, to the three generational Bell family, this is somewhat of a common occurrence in Major League Baseball.
Even if you’re an excellent player and work hard, getting to the Major Leagues is extremely rare where an overflow of talented young men vie for a few slots, so all the father/son baseball combinations defy the odds. The most common reason from baseball scouts as to why this happens is "good bloodlines," a term I hate as it makes humans sound no different than studded race horses. "Good bloodlines" simply means the next generation of ballplayers inherited their fathers’ genetic DNA to play baseball. Certainly, as baseball is as much of a learned skill as mere athletic prowess there is more to the sheer numbers of all the father/son combinations than the explanation of being born with the right DNA.
A more likely explanation is that children benefit from their father’s wisdom and advice about their careers. Think of it, players take their young sons to the ballpark, exposing them to baseball, then give them tips on how to play the game based on real world experience. The help Major League players can give their sons goes far beyond the physical. They mentor them on the mental ups and downs of being a professional athlete, and use nepotism to give them a leg up on their competition by helping them with connections other young players don’t have, like exposure to the right scouts and agents.
Nor is the phenomenon specific to just baseball. You can look at the Manning family in the NFL and the Bryant family in the NBA and you see the same dynamic. Beyond the sports world, we also know this father-child transference of occupational knowledge happens no matter what the occupation. How many multiple generational family farms have there been, where the children worked with dads in the field learning the business before eventually taking over the farm? Fill in the blank and no matter what the occupation, you see this at play — even in politics, where families such as the Kennedys, Bushes, and Adams come to mind.
Nor does the child have to work in the same career as dad to benefit from their work experience. My father is a professional artist. The art world is perhaps the farthest thing possible from the world of sports, the occupation of my choosing, but I benefitted immensely as a child by having a positive relationship with my father and being actively exposed to his career. What I observed as a child watching my father work was that hard work and having a passion for what you do matters, and career options don’t always have to be conventional. This was wisdom I could take with me no matter what occupation I chose.
The federal government spends over $18 billion annually on job training alone. Although well intentioned, having working fathers actively engaged in their children’s lives trains the next generation of workers more efficiently without costing the tax payer a dime.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year, reflect on your own career and how your dad helped you. From helping to pay for your college tuition, to teaching you the value of hard work, to giving you your first job at the family business, my guess is you’ll find yet another reason to appreciate dad this Father’s Day.
Matthew Kastel is a 25-year veteran of working as an executive in the world of sports, including professional teams, organizations, and some of the largest vendors in the industry. Matt has also written two novels and teaches and lectures at universities on the business of sports. For more information you can visit his website at thirdstrikeproductions.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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