Fans flood into the stands on the night of big games. The players warm up on the court. The swish of the ball in the net, the skidding of the shoes on the court and the crowd’s chants of excitement always fill the arena with the promise of a good game.
Little did fans know what went on when the arena emptied and practice was in progress.
Mike Rice, the former head coach of men’s basketball at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was fired on April 3.
He was relieved of his duties after it was brought to light that he abused players physically and verbally during practice. He was caught on film throwing basketballs at players and shoving them, as well as addressing homophobic slurs toward team members.
“They [coaches] hold a position of authority, and they have rights to an acceptable point, but there is also a breach in social conduct that needs to be understood,” said sophomore Dana Henjum, a lacrosse player at CLU.
The main lesson gained from this situation is that this behavior should not fly under the radar. Athletes should speak up against this kind of treatment.
“This is a tipping point in the right direction. It has resulted in these issues being brought to the forefront allowing them [athletes] to not be scared to speak up when there is extreme behavior,” said Richard Rider, head coach of Kingsmen basketball at California Lutheran University.
So why didn’t the athletes speak up against this abuse until now?
Our society sets standards for athletes. They are portrayed as tough and able to push past what they think is their limit.
The sole purpose of a coach is to motivate, unite and push a team to succeed. They do it out of the love of the game, just as the players are there because of their passion for the sport.
“What makes a good coach is one that pushes them to their lines of limit, but not cross them. That’s how they gain respect,” said freshman Guy Lynott, a basketball player at CLU.
The videos of the practices were released to ESPN and show just how overly involved Rice got in practice.
“There is no explanation for what is on those films, because there is no excuse for it,” said Rice to the press. “I was wrong.”
It is heartbreaking to see that these actions occurred. However, the new coach who will take over will hopefully aspire to be better and set a higher standard of acceptable behavior.
“If you like who you are playing for, it makes it all that much better to play,” said Lynott.
Published April 17, 2013