Thursday, January 12, 2006

Psychology: The Like That Dare Not Speak Its Name

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I am not a fan of the Duke Blue Devils. I suppose it is a natural byproduct of having a father who graduated from the University of Kentucky, and of my own matriculation at UCONN, Texas, and, most recently, NC State. My background surely helped to foster a deep dislike of Durham, North Carolina's most famous collegiate sports denizens, that and Dick Vitale's incessant shilling for the Blue Devils, to be sure.

One thing that I've noticed about Duke basketball players through the years (apart from their maddening youth-be-damned confidence, and the way they normally cream teams they're supposed to cream), is the way they seem to cling to each other during lulls in the action.

While you may assume I'm looking to shock readers with allusions of a "Brokeback Basketball" bent, I assure you I'm not. I'm just wondering if all the hugging, the hands resting on necks and shoulders, the fanny slapping, and other signs of physical intimacy during basketball games among teammates (especially Duke teammates, it seems) are nothing more than indicators of players' absolute acceptance of each other on the hardwood. I watch my beloved Kentucky Wildcats play and it seems like they're playing by strictly Victorian rules of physical contact. Could the answer to their current hoops woes be settled by some simple Magic-on-Isiah Thomas lip-to-cheek action? Is there something to this close-contact among teammates that signals total buy-in to the team concept?

2 comments:

Jeff said...

This is only tangentially relevant, but I have to tell this story. One time I was playing at NYU on a pretty good pickup team. We won a few games in a row and had good chemistry together. One guy on my team was REALLY physical -- like he would slap your ass when you hit a shot or tousle your hair after a steal. At one point, he ran past me and PINCHED MY NIPPLE.

Now get this. In between games, we're talking and I find out that he's an Osmond. Like Donny and Marie. He's their nephew. And this kid wasn't lying. He looked exactly like them. An Osmond pinched my nipple!!

mothy said...

LOL x 46. Jeff, that's an unbelievable story. On an equally tangential note, one of my good friends during my Sunday Morning Hoops days at UT-Austin (the "Pontiff in the Paint") had a habit of giving slaps BACK to me after he'd put one in my eye. It would normally involve me fouling him slightly while he made the shot, and upon turning to run back down the floor he would really slap me several times on the small of my (often shirtless) back, and under his breath he'd say "nice foul," or some such witticism. That bare-backed slap thing really smarts, to be sure (though it may not hold a candle to a nipple pinch).