Kansas Hoops Coach Told To Stop Hypnotizing Team Two years ago, the St. John High School boys' basketball team of Kansas was state champion. Last year, it took second place. This season is not going as well so the coach brought in a therapist to hypnotize the team. Beccy Tanner, a reporter with the Wichita Eagle, talks about what happened next.

Kansas Hoops Coach Told To Stop Hypnotizing Team

Kansas Hoops Coach Told To Stop Hypnotizing Team

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Two years ago, the St. John High School boys' basketball team of Kansas was state champion. Last year, it took second place. This season is not going as well so the coach brought in a therapist to hypnotize the team. Beccy Tanner, a reporter with the Wichita Eagle, talks about what happened next.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And as Dorothy might have said to Toto, we're not in New Orleans anymore. We're in Kansas. In St. John, Kansas - that's 90 miles northwest of Wichita - the school board has put its foot down. We're not talking this time about dress codes or teaching evolution or same-sex prom. The school board is putting a stop to hypnotizing the boys' high school basketball team.

Coach Clint Kinnamon, of the St. John Tigers, brought in a therapist who led the team through two hypnosis sessions, and evidently two was enough. Beccy Tanner, who is a reporter for the Wichita Eagle and who's from St. John, says the coach turned to hypnosis because of the kind of season the team is having. There's a word for it.

BECCY TANNER: Rebuilding.

SIEGEL: Rebuilding.

TANNER: Rebuilding.

SIEGEL: That's a - we should - that's a euphemism, a sports euphemism, for: It's a bad season, is what you're saying.

TANNER: Well, and it's not a bad season. It's, you know, it's not as colorful, perhaps, as it has been in past years because, like, last year, I believe they placed second in the state championships. In the year before, they were first in the state. So this year, they're not quite there. But…

SIEGEL: And so, as I understand this, the coach brought in a therapist. Who was the hypnotist therapist, here, who did this?

TANNER: He was a Church of Christ minister, who is a licensed therapist, and consults with some of the area schools.

SIEGEL: And do we know if he tried to hypnotize the team as a group or one-on-one, or…

TANNER: Well, he sent a letter, our - the boys' parents received letters. They were called letters of invitation to hypnosis. And the parents were to give their permission. About 90 percent of the team, their parents signed off on it.

SIEGEL: Now, I'm trying to think of the usefulness of hypnosis, or some kind of therapy. If everyone were missing their foul shots a lot, for example, I could imagine you'd want to try to have something - focusing on concentration. But was there a single problem like that with the team, or…

TANNER: Well, from what people are telling me, it was to help mostly just in focus and concentration.

SIEGEL: Was anyone - any of the kids who were in there - has anyone described to you what went on, or no?

TANNER: I have not been able to know exactly what happened. The superintendent has asked for a transcript, and as of yesterday, he had not received that. And the therapist would not talk about it. And I was unable to get a hold of the coach. He did not return phone calls.

SIEGEL: Why was the school board upset about this?

TANNER: They felt that: That was not the message that they wanted to send, that it was important for students to know that they had done things on their own capabilities.

SIEGEL: To say that, implies that somehow the therapy was implanting things inside the minds of the basketball team. I doubt that the counselor was capable of doing…

TANNER: Well, and certainly the - at least one of the parents that I talked with felt that it was nothing to be concerned about, that he was fully aware of what was happening. And it was nothing that raised any alarms.

SIEGEL: Did the team play after the two sessions?

TANNER: They played last night. And they won.

SIEGEL: Oh, really? So…

TANNER: By 10 points, with the Ransom Bobcats.

SIEGEL: I mean, all of the, sort of, silly movies I can think of in which people are hypnotized, one would assume that the team that's being hypnotized is the one that's going to lose the game.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: It seems to be something you do to somebody to make them less competitive somehow, you know?

TANNER: Well, and indeed, the coach that I talked with - the opposing coach -was a little bit bemused by the whole thing. He was saying that if he thought it really would work, then, you know, get him a watch on a string, and he'd try it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Well, Beccy Tanner, thank you very much for talking with us.

TANNER: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's reporter Beccy Tanner, of the Wichita Eagle, who is, herself, from St. John, Kansas.

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