On Sunday morning James Roberts became a proud new parent. He and his wife had their first baby. An absolutely joyous occasion. But instead of simply releasing a statement saying – Mum and bub doing great – which would have been met with thousands of congratulations, Roberts and the Broncos decided to release a story about a desperate wife in labour being abandoned for the greater good, that is – the team. A story that Roberts’ wife has now denied.
“This is James Roberts wife and I’m currently watching your morning episode and segment on the mixed grill! I would like you to all know that it upsets me to see people talking about my husband in such a negative way. I told James to play that evening because i knew that our baby boy wouldn’t arrive until after the game as I was not in ‘early labour’ at that point in time. James is such a loving, caring and nurturing father who was by my side the whole way through the birth of our very first son and never left my side! While James was at the game, doing what he loves and does best, I was surrounded by my extended family from Sydney and mother in law while James was at the stadium. It was not until early hours of Sunday morning that I gave birth and James played football on the Friday night, which is nearly 48hours after playing. James delivered our son with the assistance of the awesome team of midwives at the Gold Coast hospital! James is an extremely supportive, loyal, loving and kind hearted man who would never be so selfish or selfless to leave me by myself to give birth!”
This was not the events that Roberts had detailed. Roberts had said that he left his wife in labour, that his coach hadn’t said he wanted him to play but he sensed he did, that he went and played and his coach had to avoid messages from his wife asking for Roberts to return. The Broncos called this act selfless. That’s the story that they chose to release. Nobody sculked around hospital hallways trying to get a scoop. Nobody bugged any phones. This was the story that Roberts and the Broncos willingly chose to put out.
Roberts received a roasting for this story. And I have to say, I actually think it shows progress that he did. This story was released because they assumed that footy culture would love that take. That a man put his wife’s desperate cries aside for the team. That mates came first. And I dare say a decade ago, this kind of thing would have been applauded. Forget the little woman, footy and your mates are more important. But today people didn’t just go along with the story. Sure there were people saying, good on him, heaps of people have to work, it’s his job. But his story specifically said he didn’t have to play but chose too despite his wife begging him to stay. So many people were unimpressed. They rightly said ignoring your wife during labour, for a football match that you didn’t have to play in, was not “selfless” and that it was in fact selfish.
Well done society we have progressed to the point that lots of people agree that women matter, that family matters, that you should have a stronger bond with your wife and child than your mates. Women matter. Yes! Fist pump.
I have to admit that I wish this feeling was so prevalent that either EVERYBODY condemned the story that Roberts and the Broncos put out OR that they never even considered putting it out in the first person. I wish that they didn’t assume that footy culture meant mates and footy first, women and kids don’t matter. But it’s still progress. I wish they’d just annouced the birth rather than this ridiculous story and then basked in all the congratulations. It’s a new baby. It’s exciting for them.
So let’s pop the cork and celebrate this little step. A few more people think women matter. Hooray.
And Broncos, in future, “Baby is here, Mum and Bub are doing great.” Leave it at that. Everyone will just say congratulations.