Time to Rethink Role of Coaches
Drew Magary: They've gotten away with too much for far too long
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2013 7:11 PM CDT
Mike Rice has a word with a player.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

(Newser) – The Mike Rice debacle at Rutgers is unusual only because Rice got caught, writes Drew Magary at Deadspin. The sad fact is that top-level coaches are "freaks" who have gotten away with exactly this kind of behavior for way too long. "Both parenting and teaching have evolved significantly over the past 30 years, but coaching has not," writes Magary. It's time for that to change. We can start by stamping out the "idiotic" notion that coaches are parent figures—they are there to teach a sport, just as a math professor is there to teach math. Along those lines, coaches must be held to the same behavioral standards as other teachers.

The "geology professor doesn't huck a piece of quartz at you" for a wrong answer, so why should coaches get a free pass to be similarly abusive? "We have totally convinced ourselves that there's no alternative to physical intimidation, that a shove from Mike Rice or a thrown ball is merely a technique of the trade," writes Magary. "What it really reveals is the absence of any technique whatsoever—brute stupidity that we've inexplicably sanctified out of a total lack of moral imagination." No more. Click for his full column.

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Showing 3 of 39 comments
Zero_for_President
Apr 12, 2013 9:14 PM CDT
Because America is a sickly violent nation, our sports should epitomize that fact and prepare athletes to be tomorrow's model prisoners in the NDAA camps.
CopTurnedJournalist
Apr 12, 2013 9:17 AM CDT
Admittedly, I did not play high school sports. While the "jocks" were practicing for and playing football and basketball, I was studying martial arts, specifically Aikido, so I only occasionally saw their practices and games. If one of our instructors had been physically abusive to the students, he would have been fired immediately. If he had caused injury to one of the students, he would have been fired after the other instructors had "dealt with him." Allowing a coach to abuse you, especially physically, is a foreign concept to me.That having been said, this is what I really don't understand. In an age when iPhones have 12 megapixel cameras with full video capabilities, you have student athletes - who are younger, stronger and faster than these coaches - tolerating physical abuse by coaches. If your coach is being verbally abusive, hit record then give one copy of the recording to the school administration and - if they don't do anything about it, give a second copy to the media. If your coach is being physically abusive, mop the field or court up with his rear end ... it's called self-defense. Then file charges. Or, if you don't want to teach him the lesson yourself, shoot some video and let the cops and courts do all the work for you. We're not talking about "corporal punishment" here. If a coach pushes, slaps, hits, elbows or, in any other way, makes physical contact with a student in an aggressive or hostile manner, it is a simple assault ... a crime . He can and should be arrested and prosecuted. If the coach throws a chair, helmet, ball, bat, etc., at a student, it's an aggravated assault (assault with a weapon). Again, Coach Lack-of-Self-Control should be criminally charged. We don't even have to talk about the civil liability invited by the schools that allow this to happen, on top of the criminal liability faced by the coaches. Something abusive coaches - and abusive supervisors, in general - don't understand is that they have no legitimate power over their students. ANY physical abuse or intimidation is a criminal act. There is no exception in the law for, "unless the assailant happens to be a coach, bullying a team member." And the coach who physically abuses his players won't have a leg to stand on in court if they get fed up and decide to defend themselves with appropriate force. It's called self-defense. These coaches also need to remember - as do abusive employers - that their sole source of authority over the players they are abusing are those players! The coach has authority over the players only because those players gave the coach permission to be their "boss" when they joined the team. And they can revoke that permission any time they choose and the coach is powerless (legally) to stop them. It will only take one high-profile coach like a Bobby Knight or a Mike Rice being led off the court in handcuffs and doing jail time for their crimes ... in addition to losing their cushy jobs and all those perks that go unreported to the IRS ... to get the message out that bullying is unacceptable from everyone, including coaches. For that matter, it would only take one student athlete getting fed up with the physical abuse and mopping the court up with his coach in self-defense ... and then being acquitted by a jury and winning a lawsuit against the school ... to make the schools get their god-complex coaches back under control. Mike Rice being led off the court in handcuffs ... I just had to go back to that for a minute ... that's a beautiful mental image.
Riddler13
Apr 12, 2013 9:00 AM CDT
When I went through basic training in the military, DIs were prohibited by the UCMJ from using any form of direct or indirect physical contact/abuse with trainees. Any trainee who was attacked had a right to defend himself AND bring the DI up on charges. Simply couldn't do it. The DIs had no problem commanding respect and obedience without resorting to assault. They DID yell a lot but that never hurt...and we got punishment details when we screwed up. Those didn't hurt either. And the DIs were still incredibly effective at turning out well-trained soldiers, with the right discipline AND a good attitude towards their command structure.