Friday, September 16, 2011

Sympathy and Empathy

Sympathy and empathy. Similar, but not synonymous. Less and less so every day.

Chris had torn a ligament in his knee as an eighth grader, before I'd known him. I first worked with him the following summer, in June before his freshman year. A tough, hard-nosed player, he played all-out until he hit the floor, where he cringed and writhed as if he were on fire. It took about a year before this habitual writhing ceased.
It was the next summer when he told me, unsolicited, "Coach, I feel whole again."

As hard as I had tried at the time to feel my player's pain, to get to know him on his level, it was not possible.
Today: empathy.

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