If you haven’t heard the story yet, Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was recently fired after videos of him screaming and swearing at, pushing, grabbing, and throwing basketballs at his players surfaced. We’re all familiar with the antics of coaches like Bobby Knight, who are about as famous for their sideline temper as they are for their winning records. And while many sports coaches can probably remember a time or two in their coaching careers when they lost their cool and yelled at a player, the kind of physical bullying Rice was videotaped doing is completely inexcusable.
Bullying in youth sports among teammates is a big enough problem; do we really have to start worrying about bully coaches as well? The coaches are supposed to keep an eye on their players but who keeps an eye on the coach? According to The New York Times,
The firing came four months after Rutgers learned of the abuse allegation and punished Mr. Rice by suspending him for three games, fining him $50,000 and ordering him to take anger management counseling. State officials in Trenton who said they would hold hearings into how Mr. Pernetti and other Rutgers officials responded to initial reports of the abuse, after a video was provided to Mr. Pernetti by the former team assistant Eric Murdock.
One of our sports moms made this great point, “I feel for these guys, we teach our children to respect authority and they were in a no-win situation…what were their options?” If you watch the video, none of the players react or fight back when their coach literally starts pushing them around.
Lots of coaches yell (and some may even swear) from the sidelines in the heat of the moment and it’s important to point out that not every coach has the same motivation tactics; nor does every player respond in the same way. No player wants to have a basketball chucked at their head but some might respond better to a more “intense” coach than others. But as former assistant Eric Murdock said in the video it’s “…unbelievable to me that somebody could feel that that technique can be successful.” So where do we draw the line between intensity and bullying? And does a winning record ever justify their behavior? We might say no, but if that’s the case how did a coach like Bobby Knight maintain a 30 year career?