A video surfaced earlier this week of Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice berating, shoving and throwing balls at players during practice. Rice was initially suspended by the university in December, but once the video went viral, the school had no choice but to fire him. Now, in the wake of everything that has happened, everyone and their dog want to throw their two-cents in. I’ve heard everything from, “he’s the scum of the earth!” to “kids today are soft cry-babies.” Well, here’s my two-cents.
(here's the infamous video if you haven't seen it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbaYqcMMZ6A)
As a former athlete, I am very familiar with the love/hate relationship between a coach’s and their players. They praise you when you do well and discipline you when you screw up. In some ways, it’s like the army. They tear you down to build you back up again.
Granted, sports aren’t as strenuous as all that (or at least, they’re not supposed to be), but I know of very few coaches who are successful without running a tight ship. However, there is a line, and Mike Rice crossed it.
The “laying of hands” on players is not something I necessarily deem a problem. Sometimes, a coach will grab a player and pull him or her into a position as an example of what to do. But hurling balls at player’s heads, kicking them in the back? That’s where it goes from “teaching” to “raving”.
Rice became the head coach at Rutgers back in 2010, and was the main man at Robert Morris for three years before that. Which begs the question…when did this erratic behavior begin? Are there any other players and former staff members out there who endured the same kind of treatment?
Many have said if they were in the players’ shoes they would have retaliated, or at least had some choice words to say. But when athletes are competing at such a high level, if the coach says “jump,” they’re expected to say “how high?” I would have no doubt put in for a transfer, but for the Rutgers players to stay silent and remain with the team not only shows their love of the game, but their devotion to their school.
Rice says he has taken part in counseling and is now a reformed man. Whether or not this is true, I don’t know. The interview that he gave reporters after news of his termination leaked seemed insincere and fake to me. But, if he truly has changed, I hope that another school will give him a chance to coach again.
Coaches may have gotten away with things like this in the past, but in this day-in-age of smart-phones and social media, nothing, and I mean “NOTHING,” can be kept hush-hush (just ask Johnny Manziel). The firing of Mike Rice only re-iterates that. Always act like someone is watching, because nowadays, someone probably is.
Return to: Zach Taylor Blog