When the video surfaced of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, physically and verbally abusing his players over a two year period, I was appalled, but not surprised. Seeing it on the large screen television at my gym yesterday while furiously pedaling away on the bicycle, I fumed that officials at my alma mater were aware that this was going on for months at least—and I imagine, had hints of it even prior to that.
Hard to imagine parents not being up in arms about it, if their sons reported it, since some had left the team in protest. But then again, this is high stakes college sports we’re talking about here…the same ‘Old Boys’ Network’ that allowed sexual abuse to occur at the hands of a Penn State icon may not wanted to make waves and upset the apple cart while their students were being assaulted.
There is also a code of silence that has boys and men believing that they need to tough it out.
After all, they don’t want to be perceived as weak and heaven forbid, have the homophobic insults hurled at them that were spewed by Rice. It makes me wonder what happened to him that created such a monster, since abusive behavior rarely happens in a vacuum.
It also raises concerns if this man has a family of his own; how does he treat them? Are they in danger?
Having been embarrassed—to say the least—by being fired from his lofty position, isn’t likely to bring out the best in him.
I think back to the days when I was a student athlete; a competitive swimmer from ages 11-18 and then I coached for three summers myself in the community in which I had been raised; Willingboro, NJ. My coaches were tough and demanding, but fair. I felt pushed beyond my limits at times, and as a result, I excelled.
Never once did I feel abused.
From them I learned how to do the same with my own swimmers. Just as I had bonded with the members of my teams, as encouraged by the coaches and assistants, so too did I pass that on to those I coached.
We also learned sportsmanship and even though the other teams were our ‘competitors’, they were also our friends. Not sure you would see that on the collegiate level.
My hope is that he gets counseling and is able to see what led to his attitudes and behaviors, as in 12 step parlance:
Step 4: “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself.”
Step 8: “Make a list of all persons he had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Step 9: “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Perhaps then, the healing can begin.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise