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.