In an editorial for CNN.com, former ESPN VP Roxanne Jones went against the grain by claiming that Mike Rice should not have have been fired. It's a interesting opinion. Here is a sample of her own words.
Indeed, the world today is in a better, more enlightened place, where it's not nice to call people obscene or homophobic names. Where slapping people upside the head, beaning them with a basketball or giving them a swift kick in the rear is not considered the best motivational tactic. But the sports nation has not quite caught up with the rest of this kinder, gentler world. Frankly, I don't think it should — not completely anyway.
That may be hard to understand for some people. But no one who has been up close to sports can honestly be shocked by Rice's coaching techniques. He is not an anomaly — especially in the win-at-all-costs, big-money world of college sports. He just got caught on video, and we must react. We can debate whether bully-coaching is an effective motivational tool. But there's no debate that it is practiced throughout sports, from Little League on up.
There are two issues that have been largely ignored by much of the mainstream media, since the video of Rice drilling basketballs at the head of athletes splashed onto our television screensy. In 2010, Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committed suicide after getting cyber-bullied because of his sexuality. Ultimately, his roommate was indicted and the saga gripped the entire campus. By this logic, Jones’ column implies that cyber bullying and the emotional instability it can create are okay because it happens regularly.
Aside from the physical abuse Mike Rice unleashed upon his players, he was emotionally abusive as well. On the videos, Rice is seen repeatedly spewing homophobic slurs at his players by referring to them as fa—ts. After the Clementi saga swept through Rutgers’ campus national attention was given to similar suicides by young people who were bullied because of their sexuality. It’s perplexing that the athletic director and president would find Rice's verbal abuse acceptable.
One of the most prevalent themes in the current sports landscape, revolves around an active gay athlete coming out in one of the major professional sports. If we dismissed Rice’s incident as the norm in college basketball, we're talking out of both sides of our mouths.
Jones says that “brutes will always have a seat at the sports table.” That doesn’t mean we shouldn't ask them to leave.