A New F-Word for Mike Rice: FIRED!

According to Wikipedia: “the term coaching may be applied to an informal relationship between one individual who has greater experience and expertise than another and offers advice and guidance as the other goes through a learning process.”

Like a ball of fire careening through space, the story of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice’s dismissal is blazing around the world at ludicrous speed (a nod to ‘Spaceballs: The Movie’ fans everywhere).

While returning from this morning’s speaking event, I already heard callers on sports talk radio complaining that the ‘wussification of America’ is alive and well when people like Mike Rice are removed.

Apparently their kids do not play for Rutgers.

The video seen ‘round the world shows very clearly (to me) that his behavior appears to be nothing less than bullying. For years I’ve been told “You gotta be tough, you gotta be tough”. It’s loaded with physical pushing, chucking balls at players’ heads and language that would get you thrown out of just about any church on the planet.

People have been arrested for assault with less severe actions.

What the ‘Anger Management Case Formerly Known as Coach Rice” may have failed to understand is that he is supposed to be molding dozens of young men for the future. He is not just winning basketball games. These young men, all at impressionable times in their lives, will move on with these patterns. What will they be like 5, 10, 20 years from now, using this behavior in their careers and marriages?

Sportsmanship? Honor?  Integrity?

Yes, I know I am a motivational speaker and author. I choose to be positive for a living. But even I know the world is not made of marshmallows. Some parts of it can really suck sometimes.

Not every day above ground is a great day. We have to wake up, hit the floor and play to win…every day.

I do not believe in ‘Participant’ awards. I believe in keeping score. Not everyone gets a trophy.

I also believe coaches need to ‘walk the talk’ of sportsmanship, gamesmanship, integrity and honor.

In less than 2 minutes of video, I saw some of the worst behavior a human being can unleash on another…on a court filled with players who are supposed to be learning from this man.

Adios, Coach Rice.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

While you’ve got plenty of free time on your hands, perhaps you can watch film of the coaching staff and players of Florida Gulf Coast University.

They just had a pretty darn good run through the March college basketball marathon.

They played hard, they made great shots, they made mistakes, they won games…and they especially seemed to be exhibiting my favorite F-word: FUN.

And isn’t that why kids start playing sports in the first place?

In looking back at the definition which opened this opinion piece, if this is the best that your ‘greater experience and guidance’ have to offer, I’ll gladly exercise my learning process elsewhere.

Hit the shower, Coach!

To those left behind, there is much to be learned, or RE-learned, about sportsmanship and integrity.

I hope this incident holds the seeds for great things to come in college sports and beyond.

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