Mike Rice Thrown Out for Sportsman-like Conduct

The coach of the Rutgers basketball team, Mike Rice was fired today for “a chronic and pervasive pattern of disturbing behavior”. The “disturbing behavior” was graphically revealed in a viral video that was picked up by ESPN. Rice is shown abusing team members physically and verbally during practices. He is shown kicking, pushing and violently throwing basketballs at players. He is also recorded berating them, principally with homophobic slurs and demeaning their manhood.

 

There was a time when Rice’s behavior would have been condoned and even admired as old-school hard-nosed and appropriate. But Mike Rice’s style of coaching, now seen in the context of events like the Steubenville rape and the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi after he was outed by his roommate, is revealed to be an aspect of a culture that narrowly defines what it means to be a man and a human; a culture that encourages bigotry, misogyny and violence.

MEF producer, Byron Hurt (Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and RhymesSoul Food Junkies) spoke in response to the firing (Hurt is currently producing a film on hazing culture: Hazing: How Badly Do You Want In?):

I’ve been gauging some of the comments in defense of Rice and his firing on sports radio and television, and it appears that this hyper-masculine, aggressive coaching style is still widely interpreted by sports fans as harmless motivational tactics. This is socially accepted by far too many people in this country. Although many may not consider Rice’s behavior a form of hazing, I do.

Dave Zirin talks about the pathology of misogyny and homophobia in sports in this excerpt from Not Just a Game:

Jackson Katz describes the backlash effects of this social acceptance in this clip from Tough Guise: