By: Dr. Lisa M. Coffey
January 4, 2023
Today we communicate rapidly with a trigger finger on the send button, often without empathy and clarity. As a result, there is an adverse impact on wanting to be a part of the dialogue, invoking your opinion, opening yourself to the views of others that may not align with your thoughts, and then discovering how your words missed the mark. Therefore, my guide to social media posting and commentary is to remember that sometimes my opinion is irrelevant or is not meant to be shared.
Over the last few days, the world has been emotionally scared by the traumatic events that unfolded on Monday Night Football between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. Damar Hamlin suffered a traumatic injury that left him lifeless on the field, and since the resuscitation efforts, he has been hospitalized and clinging to life. While most people have shared positive words and prayers for all involved, there is an ignorant collective that should otherwise shut their mouths.
Regardless of the assumption of risk, the games' implication on the NFL's playoff standings, the athletes' compensation, the entertainment value of football, the impact on the NFL's bottom line, and the freedom of speech, Damar Hamlin, age 24, is fighting for his life. Unfortunately, those who spit nonsense, like Skip Bayless and Bart Scott, showcase no humility or civility. Bayless implied in a tweet that he did not understand why the game did not continue. On live TV, Scott shifted the blame for the injury to the opposing player, Tee Higgins. Bayless, Scott, and their followers can use humanity and compassion lessons.
Although Bayless and Scott have a platform to dissect sporting events, both need to know how to use their voice to create unity in times of uncertainty, especially when someone's life hangs in the balance. Are Bayless and Scott so self-absorbed or needy for attention that no matter the costs, their opinions matter? Within minutes, Bayless and Scott were trending topics for invoking their irrational beliefs when personal views do not count at a time like this! The incivility in sports reporting and broadcasting has to stop.
On the flip side, I was moved to tears listening to Ryan Clark, and I felt every word, every emotion, and every tear that did not roll down Clark's cheek. I took every deep breath with Clark, and when he closed his eyes, I closed mines too. Clark's words were profoundly thought-provoking and caring; Ryan's professionalism, empathy, and raw emotion were using his platform correctly! Thank you, Ryan, and I hope the other analyst took some notes.
I am an avid sports fan and spent three years immersed in athletic research while completing my Ph.D. Humility, civility, and emotional intelligence are a few of the core principles in my study. We need to govern our communication with human kindness and civility. In addition, we must allow our emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills) to regulate our actions and reactions. Lastly, it is as simple as this:
Think before you speak.
Pause before you hit send.
Ask yourself how your opinion will positively impact the situation.
If your opinion has no value, SHUT UP!
Dear Lord, on behalf of Damar Hamlin,
This is a prayer for restoration and recovery for Damar. In addition, I am asking that you guide the medical team providing his care. I ask for peace for his parents and family while they wait at his bedside. I ask that you restore the emotional well-being of his fraternity of NFL brothers. Finally, I ask that you redirect those with a lapse in judgment and allow them to learn lessons in humility and compassion. I ask because I know you can. In advance, I thank you, Lord, for blessing us with grace and mercy. Amen.
When your opinion is irrelevant, please keep it to yourself!
(C) Dr. Lisa M.Coffey 2023