What it means to be a man: lessons from a basketball coach

I don’t know if you watch the NBA or if you even know who the Toronto Raptors are, but that’s OK. The head coach of the Toronto Raptors, the only Canadian basketball team, is a man named Jay Triano. Jay Triano is a well-respected Canadian coach of basketball and part of his coaching philosophy is that he does not yell at his players because they are “grown men.” Not even when his players don’t do what he says on the court. Ironically, I think his non-yelling says a lot: partly this gives a definition of what it means to be a man in our (“Western,” Canadian, North American, White?) society; partly it says how to treat a man; and partly it speaks about what respect means and how a coach can teach with it. Having played basketball for many years of my life – about ten or twelve – I can tell you from experience that this is the minority of coaching styles. There are many circles of coaches who would yell at their players because they are frustrated, or because they think that yelling will “get them going.” However, when it comes down to it, this is only effective in the short term and for very specific players. Many of my teammates became insensitive to this type of intimidation and challenging and instead took it as a sign of weakness when the coach was trying to instill strength; yelling out of frustration and without due cause is a sign of insecurity.

Jay Triano yells not at his players because they are grown men, but because Triano, himself, is a grown man.

I’ve worn glasses ever since I was young. I have short-sightedness which means that without visual correction, I can only see things clearly for a distance of inches rather than a distance of feet.

Basically, conventional glasses and contact lenses enable one to see clearer, but at the cost of longer-term visual strength and acuity; in short, glasses treat the symptom of near or far sightedness, but at the cost of ignoring the causes. Medical nearsightedness, or “myopia,” results as a consequence of the ciliary muscles (the muscles that adjust the lens) habituate to a narrow range of focus. So for myopia, the eye as a whole gets used to short distances, causing the ciliary muscles to lose their flexibility for adjusting to further distances. I acquaint this principle to a crocodile’s jaw: over years of evolutionary development, the necessity of the jaw of the crocodile to clamp down on its prey has caused it to develop exceptional strength in clamping, but not in opening. Though myopia is not a result of aeons of looking at things at close distances, it is the result of years of looking at things closely.

So I finally realized that I’m shortsighted (and this is VERY shortsighted of me) because I have a tendency to get nearer and nearer to the things I look at. When I’m at the computer, I start out laid back and then my nose migrates towards the screen and my chin hovers over the keyboard. I don’t know if this is a bad thing per se because that’s how I’ve always lived my life: the adventure is in having a vague look at something in the distance and then picking up my stick and trekking towards it. It’s getting my hands on it and dropping it and smelling it and throwing it around. It’s needing glasses to see things form a distance because I always hold things close.