CC Sabathia and the Humanity of Athletes by Dave Cameron October 6, 2015 Tonight, the Yankees take the field with their season on the line, as they host the Astros in the AL’s Wild Card game. CC Sabathia will not be with the team for the game, or any other game this postseason, because he checked into a rehab clinic for treatment related to alcohol abuse. The full statement that he released to the media. “Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease. “I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player. “I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind. “As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together. “Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do. “I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.” For making this decision, Mr. Sabathia, I’m already proud of you. As baseball fans, we tend to see players through the lens of what they can do for us. Did they help our team win? Did they provide enjoyable entertainment for us to watch? Did they sign a ball for our kids? Our opinion of them is often directly related to what they’ve done recently to improve our own lives. Our relationship with athletes is mostly selfish. We like them when they decide to play for our team and hate them when they decide to play for someone else, even if that move improves their own lives. At its core, our relationship with athletes is not really a relationship at all. We fund the machine that pays them extraordinary amounts of money, and because of that, we feel entitled to treat them as if they somehow now belong to us, or should prioritize our desires over their own. When Daniel Murphy dared to take an extra day to help his wife after she gave birth to their child, he was criticized by a portion of the Mets fanbase for choosing his family over his job. Today, CC Sabathia made a similar choice. At a time when the games matter most, he picked his family over his job. And I think he should be applauded for doing just that. Sabathia has four children, and he will be their father long after he stops playing baseball. His relationship with his kids will continue for years after his relationship with the public ends, and he chose to get the help he needed to be a better father for the long haul, even though it came at the expense of his professional reputation. That could not have been an easy decision. Waiting another month, doing this away from the public spotlight, would have been easier. Instead, Sabathia chose to take the harder road, take the public criticism, and not delay getting treatment that could give his children a better life with a better dad. Sabathia chose to be a human being first and a ballplayer second, in a world where so often we pretend that athletes sold their humanity for the right to do their job. Yes, they chose this life, and yes, they are well compensated financially by the machine that we all help fund, but I guarantee you Sabathia didn’t knowingly sign up for this. He didn’t agree to sell his health and physical well being, as well as his relationship with his family, to get to play Major League Baseball. That shouldn’t be part of the cost of the job. To see Sabathia prioritize himself and his humanity, instead of his identity as a ballplayer, is a decision worth celebrating. I hope he gets the treatment he needs, and goes on to make a full recovery, becoming the father, husband, and person he wants to be. Already, he’s made a decision that we should be proud of. Already, he’s worth looking up to.