Everybody knows what professional sports teams are capable of performing on the field, but what really makes an organization stick out the most is the time they spend in their local communities to help those in need. On Thursday, CBS Broadcaster James Brown teamed up with the Verizon Foundation and A Call To Men–a national violence prevention organization–to discuss ways of preventing domestic violence.
Brown, along with numerous members of the Carolina Panthers organization such as Ron Rivera, Mark Carrier, and Brandon Beane, were all guest speakers at A Call To Coaches: Your voice Counts that took place on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina. The seminar attracted over 400 football coaches–ranging from pee-wee league to the collegiate level–in the Charlotte area to spread the word about domestic violence prevention and how their influence in the community can make a difference in the world.
Susan Sullivan, the Program Director of the Verizon Foundation, emphasized how one of the main focuses of Thursday’s seminar was to work with Brown as well as members of the Panthers and take a stand for preventing domestic violence with both men and women.
“Domestic violence is a cause that Verizon has been behind and educating individuals about to raise awareness as well as prevention,” Sullivan said. “It’s something we’ve been behind for almost 15 years now.”
“What’s wonderful is we’ve attracted over 400 middle school, high school, college, and youth recreational coaches to come together today. On top of preventing domestic violence, we want to discuss healthy relationships and masculinity. Nobody should feel scared or afraid. Instead of saying you’re angry.”
Sullivan and the Verizon Foundation saw a wonderful opportunity to connect with Brown when they were working on a different project and get the popular sportscaster involved with the recent seminar. One of the most important factors Brown and the Verizon Foundation wanted to emphasize the most is domestic violence isn’t just a problem women have to deal with, but men as well.
“From my perspective, I’ve had nothing but a blast so far,” Brown discussed. “The feedback from the coaches has been excellent and the turnout has been superb as well.
“The ballroom was packed at all levels as we had coaches from college, junior college, high school, and pee-wee leagues. There was an excellent cross section of attendees.”
Shortly after agreeing to get involved with the seminar, Brown took a trip down to Austin, Texas to visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline for the chance to hear about stories from callers. From that moment, Brown realized how meaningful it would be to get involved and use the platform with other men who are excellent role models to get them involved as well. Brown realizes how athletes are such visible role models and have such a strong following–which is why he wanted to try and utilize them to help prevent domestic violence in the future.
“You could feel the pain and it evoked tears on my part,” Brown said when discussing some of the stories he heard. “I said to myself, you know what–I want to be involved with the cause.”
As an individual who has spent most of his life working in sports, Brown understands the type of influence coaches can have on their athletes in life–no matter what the age may be. These coaches are seen as role models by many of their players and Brown strived to make a point at the seminar that lessons learned on the field should be just as important as the ones these athletes learn in life as well.
“Even if people were to leave here with one significant take away, that they can go back in their areas that they have tremendous influence on with the young men they coach and start to change behavior and attitude–it would be significant. Tony Porter (Co-Founder of A Call to Men) gave a powerful presentation emphasizing that we as men are wired in our DNA that we’re not supposed to show weakness. Instead, we’re transparent being hurt as weakness and it’s wrong.”
Hopefully, the attendees from this seminar will take away the powerful messages displayed by the Brown and the rest of the speakers involved to not only make a difference in the lives of the players they coach, but their communities as well. Any coach can teach their players what it’s important on the field, but the most important factors that are going to last a lifetime are the lessons that can be used off the field.
“Instead of spending valuable post-practice time emphasizing the fundamentals of a certain game, let’s start emphasizing on the fundamentals in the game of life,” Brown said. “All athletes and coaches can relate–if you are a champion only on the field and not in the game of life, you aren’t truly a champion.”
Be sure to check out the Your Voice Counts website and get involved.
Domestic violence is one of the most critical public health issues, resulting in serious, long-term health impacts and devastating effects on children and families. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 7 men in the U.S. have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetimes. The Verizon Foundation is committed to engaging men in a dialogue to help end domestic violence and promote the development of healthy, safe communities.