It’s been a crazy 24 hours for Mike Rice. Mike Rice was the Men’s Basketball Coach at Rutger’s University. Mike Rice just lost his job.
Yesterday, ESPN began showcasing a video supplied to them by an ex-member of the Rutgers staff that showed Rice verbally abusing his players and rifling basketballs at them.
While I’m sure many people viewed this video and felt shocked or appalled, my initial reaction upon viewing was, “So?”
As a kid growing up in Minnesota, hockey was religion. I played for 8 years. We had more than one coach who verbally abused us. I vividly remember a coach throwing a garbage can at a kid mid-tirade during an intermission. If you loafed in practice, you found yourself on the receiving end of a slap shot firing range. We were kids, not college students. A funny thing happened after these coaches lost their minds on us; we performed at a higher level. Crazy, I know.
I have 2 daughters. I love them more than anything in the world but I am constantly worried that they are growing up as soulless drones who will always get rewarded just for showing up. Would I like it if a coach treated my kids the way Mike Rice treated the men on his team? If it’s justified, I don’t think I’d have a problem. If it becomes “too hard” or if coach is “mean” maybe we need to focus your efforts on something else. Sports used to be about building character, but today I feel like sports is only about building confidence, whether it is justified or not. When everyone is treated as “special” just for participating, no one is.
I fully recognize that our culture is evolving. The tactics of legendary coaches such as Bobby Knight just won’t fly anymore. While I accept that, it’s the fuel behind my insanity today. I’d love to see Mike Rice get another job and I’m sure he will. It takes a special character to play under a coach like him and I’m sure he’ll be more aware of that when he goes through the process of recruiting his players. Rutgers knew the type of coach they had in Mike Rice. The contents of this video didn’t feel like grounds for termination to me. Fire him for never making the NCAA tournament while at Rutgers. Fire him for not recruiting kids that mesh with his fiery style. Fire him for not winning. That ultimately should be his measuring stick. Make no mistake about it, the mob (mostly due to everyone having a platform thanks to social media and the Internet in general) will see to it that he’s publicly shamed and will most likely condemn the next school that attempts to give him a job. Winning solves a lot of problems and I hope Mike Rice gets another chance to win.