Angry Coaches And the Players Who Love Them

To put it charitably, coaches care so much about their young charges that they are driven to towel-chewing, bullet-sweating, clipboard-throwing frenzy.

John D. Gartner, a clinical psychologist and author of "The Hypomanic Edge,"
suggests a biological explanation for such short tempers and the long-term devotion that follows. People suffering from a condition called hypomania -- milder than the mania of manic-depression but several notches above normal enthusiasm -- are energetic, restless, driven and creative, he says. But they're also easily irritated and can be impulsive, using poor judgment in the heat of the moment and regretting their rashness in later, calmer moments. Mr. Chaney, of Temple, would surely find Mr. Gartner's book fascinating.

The same hypomania that gives people energy and a short fuse can motivate others, Mr. Gartner argues. In short, confidence, energy and aggression are contagious. "Whether they're leading a religious rally, talking to a team at halftime or inspiring a small company to beat IBM," he explains, "these people are biologically overmotivated." Their energy actually stimulates "the machinery in our brain that motivates us -- the hypomanic leader energizes these turbines."

And sometimes the turbines go into overdrive, to good effect and bad. As the season winds down and the NCAA tournament begins, Mr. Bryant, nursing his broken arm, will have plenty of time to read Mr. Gartner's book.

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