March Madness takes on a whole new meaning when you watch this Outside the Lines video about the Rutgers head men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice. I find this video hard to watch and appalling. What is more appalling is that Rice has not been fired for his abusive behavior and sexist and homophobic language (update 4/3/2013 Rice has been fired). This type of old school coaching behavior should be just that…Old School.
Coaches have the responsibility to treat their athletes with respect and care, as human beings, not just as cogs in the performance machine. I think you can learn a lot about a coach by watching him/her on the sidelines and by listening to what he/she says.
What is the demeanor of the coach? How do they act under pressure in the most contested moments? How do they act when they are winning versus losing? Are their athletes paying attention in the huddle and looking engaged? Do the athletes look like they are listening to the coach intently or blowing him/her off with disregard? What is the body language and facial expressions of the athletes and of the coach? How are the assistant coaches involved in the game? How does the head coach treat the assistant coaches? How does the coach treat the officials? How does the coach react to mistakes by athletes? How does the coach explain losses and wins? Do the athletes embrace the coach after wins and seek him/her out after losses?
On the contrary, last night I watched the Cal Bears Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb, coach her team to their first-ever NCAA Final Four last night with grace. I was impressed by this young coach. She didn’t yell or act abusively toward athletes, officials or assistants. She coached. Her Google Image Search tells a very different picture of teaching, calmness under pressure, care, fun, enjoyment, pride…what coaching should look like.
I hope that the New School and face of coaching begins to look much more like Gottlieb and others like her, and that taxpayers who pay the HIGH salaries of coaches like Rice become outraged and less tolerant of abusive behavior toward young people.
- Read An Open Letter to Division I College Presidents and Governing Boards: Fix Skewed Incentives in Your Sports Programs published April 4, 2013 in the Chronicle of Higher Education, where the unsustainability of the current model of college athletics is laid out.
- Read Dave Zirin’s April 8, 2013 column for The Nation where he also argues that Old School Coaching needs to go, The Soul of Sports: Why Fox News & Former Players Defend Former Rutgers Coach Mike Rice.
- Read Murray Sperber April 8, 2013 column in Inside HigherEd on The End of Coach Kick-Ass ?