What Makes (Mike) Rice Boil? A Look at Aggressive Behavior

Aggressive behavior – many believe it is a sign of power, self-confidence, and courage. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Last week the country witnessed the termination of Rutgers University head basketball coach, Mike Rice. Video surfaced of his mean-spirited treatment of his players during practice. From name-calling to shoving, grabbing to gay slurs, his actions received nation-wide criticisms resulting in his dismissal.

Aggressive behavior is actually rooted in fear. One does not fully trust the individuals involved and must exert authority over them in order to force them to comply with his/her demands thus producing the desired outcome. Yelling, hitting, throwing things, intimidation, manipulation, coercion, and threats are all forms of bullying and abuse (pseudonyms of aggression). By instilling fear in the other party, one can create the illusion of having control over them by gaining their cooperation. In reality, the individual chooses to comply in an attempt to quiet the abuser. Aggressors have no concern for the well-being of others and will inflict verbal, psychological or physical harm on them in order to get their way. There is never justification for inflicting harm on another person or putting them at risk.

In Rice’s case, his need to have a winning team overrode his ability to make wise decisions. After all, there was a lot at stake for him. If his players did not follow his orders, they may not win. This would reflect poorly on him as a coach (feelings of shame), possibly affect his position at Rutgers, impact his salary, and result in loss of respect from his peers. His concerns (fear) led to the need to have dominance and compliance from every player on his team and he chose aggression as a means to an end.

However, as with all bullying behavior, while the short term results may be as desired, in the long run the consequences are devastating. Loss of job and income, public humiliation, health problems, relationship issues, respect of family, friends, and peers are just some of the risks. Shoving can lead to injury, even death, to the other party which could then lead to assault or murder charges. People need to consider the long-term and far-reaching consequences of their actions before engaging in such destructive behaviors. Remember: one bad choice can change your life forever.

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