Basketball vs. Football: Which team needs more mental help?


The most frustrating part of being a Maryland fan lately may not be the fact that the teams are falling short of the mythic heights they reached earlier in the decade. The problem is that the potential is basically there, but the teams constantly prove to be their own worst enemies. I don’t know if it’s because they want to marry their mothers or because the balls give them an inferiority complex, but when it comes to the Terps, it’s all between the ears.

The basketball team’s implosion Wednesday against Miami was just the latest example — and the ho-hum response to the meltdown showed just how commonplace this has become. As repeatedly documented, the team does not perform well when the game has direct implications for their season or they are playing an opponent they are expected to beat.

The football team hasn’t fared much better. Sure, they make bowl games, but an ACC team could line up my mama at tight end and still make one of those. That’s the beauty of playing in a BCS conference. This is a team that loses to Middle Tennessee State, then beats a ranked Cal team…beats a ranked Clemson team, then loses 31-0 to a terrible Virginia squad.

So who is in greater need of a little quiet time on the therapy couch?  Let’s break it down, armchair-psychiatrist style.

They say team personalities mirror that of their coach, so it makes sense that Gary Williams’  Terps are a high-strung bunch, capable of big ups and big downs. Sometimes, they seem overwhelmed by the moment. Other times, they achieve nice things, but only when they are not expected to do so and can play the role of “giant killer.” Diagnosis: bipolar disorder with severe anxiety and panic attacks, fear of success. Prescription: Zoloft, Effexor, Xanax as needed.

If the basketball team sometimes runs too hot, the football team seems to run a little cold. High expectations also create extra stress for the football team, although they seem to respond a little better than the basketball team. Overall, they need a big challenge, like a ranked opponent, or else they get bored and lose motivation. So the challenge needs to be high, but it can’t be too high. Diagnosis: ADHD with mild comorbid anxiety, general malaise. Prescription: Adderall, Wellbutrin.

So it looks to me like the basketball team needs the couch time a little more. The football team is a roller coaster ride, to be sure, but the solution seems simpler: just get them to pay attention. The basketball team’s problems are a little murkier.  Hey, basketball team. Wanna go for a little ride?


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January 2009
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