D.A.: Listening Is The Hard Part, Everything Else Comes Next

American society is not built to listen, D.A. says; it is built to hear and react

Damon Amendolara
June 04, 2020 - 2:45 pm

Our modern society is not set up to listen. It is structured to hear and react. Listening requires genuine interest and respect for the subject. Listening means actively thinking about what is coming out of the speaker's mouth. Listening is the opposite of reacting, and life in America values and rewards reaction. 

Our ever-expanding horde of social media channels are platforms to amplify opinions. Reacting immediately to what you see, hear, or read is the game. The speed and intensity of the response are the currency of choice. Twitter doesn't force you to wait five minutes before your thoughts are sent, checking back with a, "You sure about this?" message. Instagram doesn't have a "safety" filter, sifting through your thoughts for offensive language before it posts. Facebook is so consumed with hiding behind the cloak of free speech, it defers to hate, rage, and conspiracy theories. 

The sports world, and America at large, is finding out the cost of reacting instead of listening right now. Drew Brees is one of the most popular and respected players of his generation. He has gone above and beyond for many instances of humanitarian work. The "Brees Dream Foundation" improves the quality of life for cancer patients. It's spent money and resources to provide care, education, and opportunities for children and families in need. Drew has donated his own $5 million for Louisiana to provide relief against the pandemic. But Brees had to apologize Thursday for failing to listen. 

When Brees said he would never accept kneeling during the anthem, it sent a message that he was unwilling to listen. Why were some of his teammates inclined to kneel? He hadn't listened when they said it's never anti-military. Why had Colin Kaepernick chosen to kneel? He hadn't listened when it was explained that Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret, said it's a proper form of respect within the military. Why were protesters and demonstrators so mad this past week? He hadn't listened when they said, "It's because nothing has changed." 

Vic Fangio claimed the NFL was a pure meritocracy without prejudices. "After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong," Fangio said in a statement. "While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives." Fangio could not have encapsulated the problem any better. Before he listened, he had one belief. After listening, he had a completely different one. 

Fangio is a white head coach in a league that is questioning why it has so few black ones. The Rooney Rule had to be implemented 15 years ago because the lack of minority coaches was so stark. There is still such a bleak track record of minority hirings the NFL is contemplating rewards for teams that actually follow the rules. Had Fangio listened to Tony Dungy, Mike Tomlin, or other minority coaches in the NFL, he would've heard them explain just how much racism still exists. 

Our cable news outlets and politicians have brainwashed us into thinking the other side is the problem. They have insisted there is nothing redeeming about the opposite side of the aisle. So listening in America is actually interpreted as a weakness. You cannot consider the other side because that would mean you are not committed strongly enough to your own beliefs. You are told to seek out people only with those parallel beliefs to find your strength amongst those similarly inclined. We have carried out these marching orders on social media, harassing those who disagree with us. We badger those who run counter to our opinions and chase them offline. We argue and name call, all of it completely encouraged by social media platforms and cable news. Anger equates to time spent listening, viewing and using, so the powers running these institutions feed us that meal. Heaping platefuls of hate, fear mongering, and targeting. Listening? There's no such thing. There's only read, react, and respond as quickly as you can. 

For 150 years, people of color have asked America to listen to their pain, their stories, their pleas for change. George Floyd's death once again underscored nothing has worked, we are still seeing the toxicity from hundreds of years of racism. Our failure as a nation? We haven't listened to that either. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.