Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some thoughts on Steve Monforto, a.k.a. the "Philly Foul Ball" superdad

I’m sure you’ve all seen this clip--heck, it’s been the single biggest discussion topic for days among the daddy set I belong to, anyway.

If you're not a vidclicker type, here's the play-by-play:

  1. Dad catches foul ball
  2. Dad gives ball to toddler daughter to see
  3. Daughter throws ball back onto the field
  4. Daughter looks back at shocked dad expecting praise for her nice throw
  5. Dad does not go ballistic, gives daughter big comforting hug

There've been tons of news reports on this, mostly featuring MotS correspondents showing the clip to men and women to get reactions (and as you'd guess, women absolutely swoon, while guys tend to look rueful and shake their heads). They're calling Steve Monforto, 32, "Dad of the Year," and praising his amazing self-discipline in how he reacted to his three-year-old daughter Emily's faux pas.

My initial take was, “Man, they’re really layering on the ‘superdad’ stuff thick—wouldn’t any dad have done the same?” (I was subsequently informed by a fellow dad that I’m just not sufficiently sportsnutty, and that he knew some dads who, at least momentarily, would have considered throwing the kid after the ball.)

That said, you gotta think Steve should have realized handing the ball to his three-year-old daughter was a bad idea before he did it. I mean...hand the Hope Diamond to a todd and they’re GOING TO THROW IT IN THE TOILET. Srsly, folks: Know better!

But hey: Given how saturated the news is with hatred and vitriol these days, it's nice to just see someone acting from the genuine warmth of his heart. And you have to give the guy credit for the impressive speed with which this guy moves from shock to hug. It shows that there’s not even a question of priorities. And that makes him a role model in my book.

As one YouTube commenter said: "Notice that after she threw the ball back, he NEVER once looked where´╗┐ it went. His focus was completely on his daughter and making her feel better. Awesome." Thumbs up / fist bump, Steve Monforto. (H/T Nelson Wong)

More Monforto links:
Philadelphia Inquirer: Father's foul-ball grab gets tossed away by tot
Clarion-Ledger: N.J. girl's foul toss makes dad a celebrity
ESPN: Dad catches foul at Philadelphia Phillies game; toddler tosses it Phillies dad a hit with parents all over
NPR: 'Wanted To Let Her Know It Was OK,' Says Dad About Baseball-Tossing Daughter

My very cool colleague Becky Sun notes that the incident has been picked up by Evangelical Christian forums and Facebook groups as a metaphor for God's infinite love and forgiveness of mankind. Here're my quibbles with the parable:

  • As I noted above, Steve Monforto made a mistake in handing the ball to his daughter, and he knew it--it was written all over his face in the instant she tossed the ball (kudos to him, though, for blaming himself and not her). As a result, the metaphor implies that God is fallible, which I’m sure isn’t the intent of the people posting it.
  • Even more of a concern: Sin requires knowledge of error in the act of commission. Little Emily had no idea she was doing something wrong -- she was just playing the same ball-toss game she's always played with her papa. So, by definition, she did not commit a "sin." (That’s why the consumption of the forbidden fruit was so damning, right? It gave Adam and Eve the ability to know the difference between good and evil, and thus, the ability to sin.) (Note: I'm aware that the Catholic church has multiple tiers of sin, and the unknowing comission of wrong might by its definition constitute venial sin, which damages but does not sever the relationship with God. However, that really doesn't cut the mustard for the purposes of making the point these groups are trying to make -- that "God is able to forgive anything, no matter how heinous.")

Sorry for the minor theological detour, folks. Now back to your regularly scheduled snark and geekery...

Posted via email from originalspin's posterous


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