I am both a college professor and a basketball coach and I have been living this dual reality for awhile -- close to 2 decades or more if you go back to before I was a college professor. But I do try to link the worlds. First, I think the "lab" of basketball is an excellent study ground for constitutional political economy and in particular the examination of how rules impact strategies, etc. Second, I think of "coaching" as teaching and focus on ways to improve both the way I teach economics and techniques, strategy and attitude. Third, the fact that I see the game as a "lab" for a broader academic examination and that I also see the academic quest as a competitive game to be played skillfully means that my worlds collide constantly even when others don't see any connection.
However, I want to suggest to the readers to read this blog post by Brian McCormick --- a very insightful coach and trainer. In this particular post McCormick makes the distinction between "what" questions in coaching, and "how" questions in coaching. This distinction dovetails nicely with a distinction I made between information (what) and knowledge (how) in my SDAE address many years ago. But it also relates to something I try to tell my students as they prepare to write their dissertations. For about a decade I have been emphasizing the derivation of dissertation projects by "looking out the window" not on the blackboard. But I am quick to add that while "what" questions are a prerequisite for decent work, it is the "why" question that will determine your success or failure as a thinker. In other words, you have to be able to explain why something happened, not just the details of what happened. Similarly in coaching, you have to be able to explain not just "what" we are supposed to be running, but "how" it should be run --- and I would say that your best players have to understand "why" you run it as well and "why/when". To go back to McCormick's point from a coaching perspective the importance of "what" you teach is determined by "how" you teach it. In coaching circles there are two phrases I really like: (1) you are what you emphasis, and (2) you haven't taught until they have learned. Both were fundamental to Coach John Wooden's approach. Basketball IQ is really a result of your players moving beyond "what" you teach, and even beyond "how" you teach it, to understanding "why" you are teaching it and "why" you expect them to do "what" you want them to do at different times and in different situations. This is the sort of "creativity in discipline" that McCormick talks about when he discusses the concept of "flow" and that concept of "flow" has inspired several scholars to think about what underlies the unleashing of the creative forces of a free society.
My worlds collide, but they collide in a wonderfully symbiotic way.