Word on the Street

Alpha Baller Syndrome (al’-fuh bol’-ur sin’-drom’) noun. A psychological disorder in which a pickup basketball player attempts to impose his will on other players, often with less-than-successful and possibly inflammatory results.

Usage example:That guy kept screaming at his teammates to crash the boards and play defense, but the only thing he did all night was chuck up threes. He must have Alpha Baller Syndrome.”

Word trivia: According to the book Alpha Male Syndrome, alpha males are “take-charge types with a burning desire for victory” whose “high expectations lead to frustration and rage.” Furthermore: “At their best, alphas are world-beaters. When they are not at their best – when they are unaware, out of balance, or out of control – they create problems that diminish the value of their productive energy. And when they are at their worst, they go down in flames and drag their co-workers, their families and their organizations with them. We call this complex set of characteristics the alpha male syndrome.”

Typically, people who suffer from alpha male syndrome:

* Believe their value is defined by the results they achieve.

* Don’t care about hurting feelings as long as they acheive their goals.

* Treat any disagreements as a challenge to their authority.

* Tend to think that other people are “the problem.”

* Get annoyed when people suggest new ideas or behavior changes.

* Have strong opinions on most subjects, even those they don’t know much about.

* Lose their temper when confronted.

Sound familiar? If you’ve played pickup ball for any length of time, you’ve probably run across several bums and knuckleheads who suffer from Alpha Baller Syndrome. In my experience, these so-called alpha ballers typically coach people on the finer points of defense while playing none themselves, implore their teammates to crash the boards while they stand around on the perimeter, and call for the ball on every play …because they expect to be the first, second and third option on every offensive possession. A little part of their soul dies every time someone else on their team shoots the ball. Unless, of course, the teammate scored off one of their brilliant assists.

Conversely, the alpha ballers often lose their temper when anyone disagrees with them or suggests that they follow their own advice. And they are incapable of seeing their own faults or inadequacies. Alpha ballers believe they’re on fire even when they’re ice cold, they think they’re shutting down their man even when he’s burning them alive, etc. In their minds, they are flawless basketball computers sent back in time to change the future of pickup ballers everywhere.

Furthermore, alpha ballers cannot co-exist, which is bad news, since on any given night there may be several alpha ballers on the court at the same time. When that happens, these idiots will try to out-alpha each other. That usually leads to regular stoppages of play so that they can scream at each other until someone backs down, which can take a while. In worst-case scenarios, there might be upwards of seven or eight alpha ballers in a given game. The result, more often than not, will be a 30-minute screaming match that will make you want to swear off of pickup basketball forever. Or at least until the next time you play.

I’m sorry, but not everybody gets to be Snake Plissken.

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Labels: Word on the Street

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