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August 6, 2009

Quick Hit: Dan Patrick Is A Dad

I was looking at some random sports news today (which I'm totally not supposed to do, since I'm a woman and all) and I came across a story about former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick's new DirecTV show, which just started airing recently. It's one of those radio show simulcast things, where a camera crew is going to film the radio show plus some extra bonus footage and make a TV show out of it. Also, the show is apparently filmed at a special studio near Patrick's home that was remodeled by the crew from the DIY Network show "Man Caves", which I'm sure is very cool and a sports heaven and everything, but really it just makes me wonder if he has a Man Wall.

But anyway, the details of the show aren't that important. What caught my eye was Patrick's comment about the reason why he left ESPN several years ago.

Moving the show to DirecTV is the next evolution for Patrick, who was one of ESPN’s biggest stars when he departed.

"I made (the move) for the right reasons, I told my wife I was just coming home," he said. "I missed out on 15 years with my children. They were born during my career at ESPN. My oldest is 17. I worked second shift for 15 years."

He has stayed in the limelight with the radio show, contributions to Sports Illustrated and his presence on the NFL studio show at NBC. He’ll also be on NBC’s Olympics coverage.

"I still have a good relations with ESPN," he said. "They use clips from my show all the time.

"I did make the right decision, because I made it for the right reason." [Emphasis mine]

So, on the one hand I think it's potentially a good thing when any parent in the public eye can add something to the conversation about work/family balance. It's interesting to see him honestly acknowledge the sacrifices that he made on the family side in order to achieve his level of career success.

At the same time, he did make choices, and based on his comments it seems like it took him until his children were almost grown to realize that he was missing out on their lives. I'm not saying that he should have quit earlier or worked in a different field or anything like that, because I don't really know the details and there's only so much you can judge from one quote in one interview. But it does highlight a struggle for balance that your average ESPN viewer probably never ever thought about when they watched Dan Patrick on SportsCenter late at night.

Of course, there's also an important reason why they might never think about Dan Patrick's work/family balance. Because he's a man. I think it's still considered a lot more acceptable by most people for a man to work "second shift" through his kids' entire childhoods in order to further his career than it would be for a woman. A woman with young kids working that kind of schedule would be wide open to accusations of 'bad mom!' If that wasn't the case, we might have a lot more women on ESPN and hey, maybe we could even get Cosmo to retire the 'women think sports are icky' stereotype for good.

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