The art of listening, June 24, 2014Published 8:54pm Monday, June 23, 2014
Last weekend, Washington was the site of the NFL Pros Weekend, a series of free events featuring professional football and basketball players, led by retired NFL wide receiver Terrance Copper and Washington Police and Fire Services.
The Daily News had plenty of coverage of the events, which included a community cookout and autograph signing at Festival Park on Friday and football and basketball camps on Saturday.
It was a fun-filled weekend and obvious children at both events were made starry eyed by the celebrities in their midst, from the little girl who had the players sign her Dallas Cowboys T-shirt, to the young man who was overjoyed to be playing a one-on-one game of catch with NFL Tackle Steven Baker.
While these children no doubt learned some tips and insight that may improve their play, it was the other pieces of wisdom being handed out that may have a more lasting impact. And at Saturday’s football camp, they were flying fast and furious. These are just a few:
Former Jaguars’ quarterback David Garrard: “I appreciate that you all want to go first, but you have to wait your turn. Everyone will get to go.” The lesson: patience.
Terrance Copper: “You are racing the clock. You are not racing each other. Don’t stop just because you’ve got the other guy beat.” The lesson: keep your head down and work hard, always.
Vonta Leach: “You’ve got to go around the cones. There’s no cheating. You can’t cheat in life.” The lesson: follow the rules; stay on the straight and narrow.
And then there was Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Jamar Newsome, who’s job it was to line up the children in preparation for the 40-yard-dash — a task not unlike herding cats. Each time a new group would arrive, Newsome embarked on a mini-camp mini-lecture about the art of listening.
“You have to learn how to listen,” he told his little followers. “It doesn’t matter what you want to do for a living later on. You could be a doctor or a lawyer or a policeman or a football player, but for you to be good at it, you have to learn to listen.”
He went on to explain that listening is the key to understanding, and by the time he got around to showing the kids the correct stance from which to start a 40-yard dash, he had their rapt attention. Each and every one of them was being taught a valuable life lesson about the importance of listening — and it was a lesson taught by someone who had accomplished the statistically near impossible by working hard, playing by the rules and learning by listening.
Words matter. And for children who may, or may not, have a stable family environment; who may, or may not, have positive role models in their lives; who may, or may not, be good students, or good athletes, words can carry much more weight coming from those who are living proof that anything is possible.
The 2014 Pros Weekend may have seemed like all fun and games with its free food, autographs and ball playing, but beneath the surface, it’s much more. It’s planting the seeds of good character — seeds that, if nurtured, will serve those children for the rest of their lives.