Open Phones: Coaches Crossing the Line

Friday, April 05, 2013

This week Rutgers fired men's basketball coach Mike Rice after a video surfaced that showed him shoving players and using homophobic slurs. Have you ever been pushed around by leaders such as coaches or drill sergeants? Is this behavior ever an effective motivational tool? Where do you think the line should be drawn? Call us at 212-433-9692 or post your comment below.

Comments [26]

Elizabeth Giannini

I have known & swum for some of the top swimming coaches in the world including Olympic coaches, Frankie Elm of Rutgers & Jack Baurle of Georgia. My coaches were always demanding, motivating & always respectful to their athletes. Unfortunately I have witnessed bullying behavior by a few teachers, parents & coaches during the time my three children were involved in school & sports.

Apr. 05 2013 04:25 PM
catherine HK

Iv'e had a number of bosses who've been so verbally abusive I doubted my sanity for not quitting on them (sooner). But the one that had a lasting impact was an art teacher I had a work/study arrangement with. This was decades ago when I was a teenager. I was hoping she'd be a mentor, trusted adult I could confide in. One afternoon I came over to give her some cash for some equipment I'd purchased from a former student of hers. She thanked me, then asked how I've been doing. I said "not so hot. Kind of depressed" My father had cancer and she knew it. Her response was shocking. She went into the cliche that teenagers have nothing to be depressed about because we don't have real problems. She referred to her need for reading glasses as an example of real adult problems. She called me lazy and overweight because I eat too much (I wasn't at all fat). The personal attacks went on and on.
I continued my association with this witch for another 2 years and continued to visit her and her husband for several years after I left home, until I figured out I didn't need her nastiness anymore. I developed a couple of eating disorders to get her to stop making nasty comments about my weight. She was the worst berater because her abuse was so personal and made such a damaging impression on me that to this day I have health problems from starving myself for her.

Apr. 05 2013 12:05 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@DrG -

You got the quote close but not quite right...It is "Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer."

Bullying as a part of sports motivation is way over-rated. When I see anyone use bullying, racial put-downs and sexual metaphors in the mistaken belief that they are motivating someone, I see a person who is in over their head and out of ideas. As an NJ taxpayer, why would I want to see such a person get a mid-six figure salary on my dime? As a former Rutgers athlete, why would I want my alma mater to employ such people? As the parent of a Rutgers undergrad, why would I want my son or daughter to attend an institution where such a personality is allowed to remain on the payroll?

Or are you saying that the ends justifies the means, and there are lots of psycho coaches out there?

Apr. 05 2013 11:43 AM
Laiah Raphael from greenwich ct

nation's history, we are not a peace loving people. We love violence and war. If we didn't we would not allow our leaders to get us involved in so many conflicts. And we wouldn't glorify the contact sports that are so violent - hockey, basketball, football. Baseball is fairly tame, and I hear so many people say it is boring. The fans love it when a fight erupts. Instead of speculating about whether coaches should use such aggressive tactics, we should be wondering why we love violence and war!!! And why is it so important to win. We mouth words like sportsmanship and fair play, but we teach our kids to push and shove to get to the top, in sports as well as in life. Have a good day Brian.

Apr. 05 2013 11:11 AM
Stephan from Queens NY

I played basketball for division 3 college and had 2 coaches during my 4 year playing. My first coach was very firm but also compassionate and very experience in coaching. He got the most out of his players. Now my second coach was also firm, but would fly off the handle during practice and push and shove players (which is not a problem, because it’s part of the game), but he would also blurt out racial slurs to our 6’11” center. Most of us thought that correct to do by any coach. I do think a coach wear many hats, more than any of the professors or deans in a school. He or she has to be a teacher, a mother, a father, a psychologist and a friend to his players. I can understand why the players did not out the coach, because you want to show that you can take any kind of abuse to make or stay on the team. But people higher up should have taken notice of his behavior and fix it.

Apr. 05 2013 11:08 AM
julie from NYC

I own a kung fu school (North Sky Kung Fu), and sometimes you have to motivate a person negatively as well as positively--it's martial arts for crying out loud, you need to have some backbone; we have a rule: You can yell about a particular action or performance, but never about the person him/herself. We don't get personal. And we try to do it with love remembering the goal is to benefit the student, not destroy the student.

Apr. 05 2013 10:51 AM

In 16 years at our firm we had one director who was verbally demeaning and beligerant. She lasted about a year. At one point all the professional staff came into my office and threatenend to quit if she stayed. We spoke to our principal. She was let go not too long after that and we went back to being the happy, mutually supportive team that we have allways been

Apr. 05 2013 10:45 AM
June O'Neill from Westchester

In the course of this discussion I keep thinking about reports of Christine Quinn's behavior - swearing, screaming at people etc. It seems to me that rage has no place in business, politics, athletics etc.

Apr. 05 2013 10:45 AM
Bob from Huntington

Does our obsessive preoccupation with sports somehow reflect our obsession with and excessive veneration of the military?

Apr. 05 2013 10:44 AM

john from office

I too have seen parents treat their children like that. And i think if they don’t respect their own children who else will??

Apr. 05 2013 10:43 AM
Ann King

When a coach calls you a racist, sexist or homophobic name, it should not teach you to take it. It should teach you to speak up and call him out.

Apr. 05 2013 10:42 AM
Nancy from Manhattan

In my first law firm job as a young lawyer, on of the partners of the firm used to mimic my voice in front of myself and others. It was annoying, but I felt I couldn't rock the boat so didn't say anything. This partner went on to a judgeship in the Bronx.

Apr. 05 2013 10:41 AM
Soldier's Father from Pelham, NY

These days so few Americans have personal experience with the military (fewer than one-half of one percent, so most of the comments you hear in the media are really based on the movie/TV versions of drill sergeants, not current life. Among other things, abusive training would be harmful to counter-insurgency warfare -- e.g., soldiers trained by abuse are more likely to abuse local civilians, which would harm the mission.

Apr. 05 2013 10:41 AM
carolita from NYC

I was verbally abused by an employer -- he was even a friend! But his verbal abuse was appalling. He would make grown men cry with his temper. And it was all supposedly in the name of getting us to be better at what we did. The day I quit, it was because, as I explained, I no longer could justify any decision I made on the job with a rational explanation. Every decision was being based on whether it would get me yelled at or not. And that was an unacceptable way to work. Parting words? I was kicked out of the office with "and that's why you're fired!!!!"
I got a new job the next day, with a guy who loved to tell me that in New York, "there are no friends, there are only the people you work with."
My next job brought me to Paris, France, to work in more humane and polite conditions. ;)

Apr. 05 2013 10:40 AM

Reminds me of a story for a few years back about the parents of 20 somethings call the bosses of the children to set them straight.

my father (im in my 40s) was always threating to wipe "that look off my face." he wasn't a team player.

Apr. 05 2013 10:39 AM

Movie - The Paper Chase - Professor:
"Here's a dime. Go call your mother and tell her you will never be a lawyer."

Apr. 05 2013 10:39 AM
henry from md

British army WWII - boot camp (in American lingo). I do recall the towering staff sergeant seated behind one of those old fashioned gramophones cranking out some ditty with the refrain "you'll be glad to be bloody well dead."
The s. sergeant himself addressed us in his 'welcoming' speech: forget you ever had a mommy and daddy, forget your bloody name, you're just a bloody number!

Apr. 05 2013 10:38 AM
john from office

I note how African American moms speak to their kids on the subway, curse words and even calling them little Nig---rs. I find that very distructive to the children. Whats that all about?

Take the 6 train sometime.

Apr. 05 2013 10:36 AM
Mark from New Hampshire

Bill Bellichek, Tony Dungy show great results can be achieved without yelling

Apr. 05 2013 10:35 AM
The Truth from Becky

It depends what you are "yelling" obscenities, racial slurs, insults general demeaning taunts...not acceptable! A justified firing for sure.

Apr. 05 2013 10:34 AM
Jae from NYC

Abuse is abuse, period. I have seen bosses berate employees through swearing and throwing objects at them. I have witnessed male bosses insult women by using the forbidden c-word. This only results in outcomes from employees quitting to suicide. There is no place for abusive behavior in a work environment, whether the field is a basketball court or a conference room.

Apr. 05 2013 10:33 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I was thinking about Bobby Knight yesterday in the same context as the question Brian is posing.

Despite all the criticism of Knight, you cannot ignore the fact that so many of his players, going back decades, adored him and stated that he helped mold them and make them better men. (I believe Knight was a strong proponent of his players doing well academically -- can anyone confirm or contradict this point with facts?)

I'm not sure it excuses his "methods" or over-the-top personality, but it only shows that the question is a complex one and not easily judged, although it would be easy to dismiss Knight out of hand.

Also, there is the question of is there a difference in how to treat boys/men vs girls/women? Do they react differently? Does it serve a different role for the different genders?

Apr. 05 2013 10:32 AM
kim taras from Brooklyn

I had a boss once (a very well-known creative director) who said about an intern, "I hate that guy so much, I wish I could fire him, hire him back, and then fire him again."

(The intern was never fired.)

Apr. 05 2013 10:32 AM

...and parents how do u encourage your dimmer children??

Apr. 05 2013 10:29 AM
hicoachrich from Murray Hill

It isn't accepted in professional environments and should not be permitted in sports where the power resides in the coach ---it would not fly in the NBA---it disrespects and demeans. treat hem like adults and they may surprise you and behave as adults. there are other effective means to get results. of course coach should have been fired and Rutgers AD should be fired.

Apr. 05 2013 10:29 AM
Robert from NYC

That music teacher must be a descendent of JSBach!

Apr. 05 2013 10:28 AM

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