Empathy

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” 1

I find it hard to imagine what it would be like to work under the kind of pressure that Lee Clark faces in his job. I think he is doing a reasonable job in a difficult situation. I know that a lot of Birmingham City fans wouldn’t agree on this point. As I’ve observed elsewhere2, our fans come with the same range of personalities as is found in society in general. Some are more empathetic than others.

My opinion of Clark was reinforced by the 3 Men and a Mic event at St Andrews last Thursday night. In this question and answer session, season tickets holders were given the chance to pose questions to Lee Clark, Derek Fazackerley and Terry McDermott. I’m not going to attempt a report of that session, since Nat has already written a good one.3 I just want to comment on a couple of points.

I was struck by a comment Fazackerley made about character being more important than ability. I got the impression that all three cared about the character development of their players as much if not more than they cared about their technical skills. If I was fortunate enough to have a grandson playing for the club, I would trust them to look after him.

Clark talked a bit about being in the youth system at Newcastle United and what it was like to play for the team he’d supported. When he started out, there was a connection between players and supporters that has now gone missing at the top end of the game; when players are earning obscene amounts they live in a different world from the fans. He believes that the connection can be restored to some extent when young local players are promoted to the first team and that’s one of the reasons he wants to give Academy players a chance.

I found Lee Clark more likeable in person that he’d seemed on TV and was glad I’d had the opportunity to hear him. I hope there will be more events like this in the future.

  1. The quote is from Chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  2. Football philosophy: What I’ve learned from reading my own blog
  3. Three Men and a Mic