Friday, June 01, 2007

Psychology: What does your game say about you as a person?

My last post was about a New York Times story describing Barack Obama's love of pickup basketball. The Times website also put up a great video interview with Craig Robinson, who is Obama's brother-in-law and coach of the Brown University men's basketball team. Robinson recalls how his sister Michelle, in considering Obama for husbandry, asked him to take Barack out to play basketball. Why? To find out what kind of person Obama really was.

Telling this story, Robinson reiterates a truth that almost all pickup ballers are aware of: "You can tell a lot about a guy by the way he plays basketball. You can tell if a guy is selfish. You can tell if a guy is phony. There's a lot of different ways on the court you can tell that."

Unsuprisingly, Robinson describes Obama as being humble, team-oriented and willing to admit mistakes, as evidenced by a readiness to call fouls on himself. (We'll see what the bro-in-law has to say after the campaign.)

Robinson's words really resonate with me. I feel that this principle is proven again and again on the asphalt and the hardwood. People who are jerks in real life act like jerks on the court (like this guy). People who are nice in real life are nice on the court. Self-centered people tend to ballhog, as they have trouble visualizing the game from other players' perspectives. The best point guards, I've found, are typically gregarious and thoughtful. And who plays dirty except people that live their lives dirty?

Of course, there are always exceptions. A guy that used to play regularly at the NYU gym was one of the most bitchy, complainy dudes I'd ever encountered, but when you saw him around campus, he was sweet as pie. Never could figure that one out.

But I'll stick to the position that there is an extremely high correlation between hoops personality and real-life personality.
Anyone else want to weigh in on this?


Anonymous said...

What does it mean if you suck?

Harrison said...

I absolutely agree. The interesting thing is when you encounter someone whose oncourt demeanor is at odds how they behave in real life. I think often, as you mentioned, these are people who become assholes in the game, but couldn't be nicer otherwise. They use the court as a place to air out their frustrations, I think. I used to be one of these guys, but I've calmed down.