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Dotson Lewis' Blog

WHEN DOES A COACH'S BEHAVIOR CROSS THE LINE?


Or the behavior of anyone in a position of leadership: parent, teacher, sports official, sports reporter?  How does one learn "boundaries"? Images of head coach Mike Rice conducting basketball practice at Rutgers University left no doubt his behavior was detestable. 

 

MIKE RICE

 

That practice session took place several months ago and was the cause of closed-door discussions and mild discipline by the university. But recently the video was released and went viral on the internet; if you're a sports fan you've probably seen it. It features Rice violently cursing at his players, throwing basketballs at their heads and feet and being viciously demeaning. All in the name of-get this-- "motivating" them to do better. Be aware that in today's world everything can go viral!

 

Rice has since been fired by Rutgers University and the athletic director, who had suspended and fined Rice when the behavior was first discovered, has now resigned. Others are calling for the university president to step down. Do such firings help change behavior? Granted, there is no excuse for this type of behavior in coaching, teaching, or parenting. But if you think physical abuse of others is a new motivational tool, you got another think coming. Coaches have for years used physical means to motivate their players, though perhaps not to the extent Rice did. Was it the right thing to do? Only if you believe humiliation should be used as a measurement of success.

 

Motivation comes from within. Worthy coaches, teachers, or parents inspire others through their words and actions. Walk your talk! As we wrote in "It's the Will, Not the Skill": "Excellence is good, exemplary is better"! If your goal is to teach for better performance, then we believe coaching from the "inside-out" is the way to do it. It's one thing to avoid abhorrent examples such as Rice's; but better to observe positive models and say "that's the way I want to do it".

 

 

There’s little argument about the fate of Rutgers’ former basketball coach Mike Rice: he had to go. A large majority of those who took part in a recent Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll viewed his firing as an appropriate outcome to his behavior…But not all.

 

Twelve percent said Rice should not have been fired after a video surfaced showing Rice physically abusing players and calling them gay slurs and other names and 6 percent were unsure, leaving 82 percent of respondents agreeing with the decision to terminate Rice.

 

And six percent of those polled found that Rice’s behavior was acceptable, while 93 percent said it was not.

 

Most also were not surprised that it occurred.

 

“While the public disapproved, they didn’t think it was all that uncommon in college-level sports,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

 

Fifty-two percent of those polled believe it is either very common or fairly common for this type of behavior to take place in college sports with 46 percent saying it is either not too or not at all common.

 

The poll shows that the New Jersey public by and large agreed with the administrative moves taken after both the incident and the delay in firing Rice.

 

A majority – 56 percent – said Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who at first defended his decision not to initially fire Rice, should have resigned, while 35 percent said it was unnecessary. Fifty-one percent of those polled said Rutgers President Robert Barchi should not have to give up his post while 36 percent believe he should step down because of the delay in dealing with Rice.

 

The poll was conducted by phone, with 806 New Jersey adults taking part from April 11 to 14.

 

The controversy did not put much of a dent in Rutgers’ reputation on the whole as a university.

 

Not many participants said it changed the way they perceive Rutgers. Only 6 percent of those said they would “actively discourage” a high school senior from attending Rutgers because of the incident.

 

The poll also cast light on how Garden State residents feel about sports at Rutgers. Forty-four percent of those polled say Rutgers puts the appropriate amount of emphasis on sports compared to 31 percent who maintain that it places too much emphasis on its athletic programs.

 

Dotson’s Note: What do you think? Please call or send your thoughts regarding this matter to the Benchwarmers….Thanks