Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 5/3/12

Word broke this morning that Heat forward Chris Bosh has flown home to Miami from New York, where his Heat are preparing for Game 3 of their playoff series against the Knicks, to be present with his wife for the impending birth of their baby boy.

There is no word yet on whether Bosh will miss tonight’s game, but the expectation seems to be that he will miss it if the timing of the birth overlaps the game.

I applaud him for it.

Chris Bosh may miss Game 3 tonight to be with his wife for the birth of their child.

In a sports world where Antonio Cromartie and Travis Henry have become punchlines for all the wrong reasons, and male athletes fathering children across the nation out of wedlock has become all too commonplace, Bosh is setting an example far more important than anything he could do on the court.

Furthermore, it’s a general example of something that many of us, including yours truly, could stand to learn from: some things – namely, family – are important than work and certainly more important than sports. For Bosh, his decision happens to overlap both.

Now I don’t know Chris Bosh personally, so I don’t want this post to come across as painting him like some saintly figure for this one act that most of us would not even think twice about. But Bosh lives and works in a different world, with different rules, where what it is a given to you or me might not seem like such a given to him.

For example, my little brother was both back in 1990. At the time, my dad was coaching the defensive secondary for Indiana under Bill Mallory and the annual rivalry game against Kentucky was looming. The due date happened to fall on that Saturday.

My dad obviously did not want to miss the game (though I suspect he would have), and there certainly would have been pressure, even if unspoken, on him not to miss it. And my mom and her doctor really didn’t want to miss the game. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had things stretched over into Saturday, but fortunately they did not. Josh was born, football was coached and watched, and everything worked out.

The point is: I do think taking a moment to laud Bosh for this decision is worthwhile, if for no other reason than to draw positive attention to it for other athletes or men in high profile, high pressure jobs.

I have not yet experienced the joy of a baby being born, but I can guarantee I wouldn’t miss it for the world. You only get one shot at that memory (and to be there to support the woman actually doing all the work). You can’t miss it, outside pressures be damned.

I’ve seen a few people mocking Bosh for his choices. That’s ludicrous. Those very same people are probably the one who have the best one liners ready anytime Antonio Cromartie’s name gets mentioned.

Now, I won’t be flippant and say that “it’s just a game” he’d be missing, because to Bosh it’s more than that. It’s his job. And it’s a very important night at his job for which he is highly compensated. But even that doesn’t make it more important than his most important job, which henceforth will be being a father.

You wouldn’t miss your first day at a new job would you? Not if you wanted to be great at it you wouldn’t. Bosh clearly is excited about being a great dad, and missing one playoff game – whether it’s a first game or Game 7 of the NBA Finals – is a small piece of collateral damage for being where a man should be.

When we talk about athletes being role models, we too often look at production on the court or field as a basis for measurement or admiration. To me, what makes an athlete a role model is how much effort and sportsmanship he competes with on the court; and more importantly, how he conducts himself off the court and the choices that he makes.

Whether he has to miss tonight’s game or not, Chris Bosh is a role model for making this choice to prioritize family over work. I hope other athletes in similar situations follow his lead.

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