The Big Mac Blog

Locker room talk can be brutal but not Trumpian

Donald Trump has created a storyline for the sports world with his analogy to the locker room.
Donald Trump has created a storyline for the sports world with his analogy to the locker room. NYT

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has spoken out on issues beyond football, which makes him the ideal candidate to define what qualifies as locker room talk.

The only problem was when I posed the question to Rodgers in a conference call on Wednesday, he sounded none too pleased to be asked about Donald Trump’s latest verbal winner.

“I haven’t heard that kind of conversation in the locker rooms I’ve been in. That wouldn’t be very well-received I don’t think,” Rodgers said.

Of course, he easily could have said no comment. He could have said he did not want to talk about anything political. Rodgers chose to respond to a question many athletes have been answering in recent days.

Because media scum can’t help ourselves (not me), athletes have been asked if the GOP Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s excuse that his infamous “colorful” discussion with former NBC host Billy Bush actually exists in “locker rooms.”

NBA spare LeBron James was asked about it, and like Rodgers he dismissed the comparison quickly. “That’s trash talk,” he told reporters.

Only Trump could actually degrade and offend a men’s locker room.

What athlete would be dumb enough to admit language that boasts of sexual assault is either accepted or common? They would not admit it because such admissions don’t happen unless a lawyer is present.

A locker room can be a juvenile address that features coarse and wrong language where exaggerations are expected, homosexuality is mocked, women are routinely objectified and sexual conquests are celebrated daily. There is no dumber place in the world than a boys’ tree house where bathroom humor is not only accepted but carefully considered, cultivated and delivered.

And once the stupidity adjourns, a locker room is a place where guys also are more at liberty to talk about what is actually going on in their lives, or just life; on Wednesday in the Cowboys locker room, I over heard two players have an educated discussion about the upcoming election.

But a locker room, foremost, is also the place where guys are guys, which encompasses all sorts of discussions that are tacitly understood to remain in private and within those specific confines. It does not make the language, or conversations right, but they happen.

Having worked with three college women’s sports teams - one softball, two basketball - many years ago, I can vividly recall coarse and rough language that would not be welcome in a public setting. A woman can be just as “wrong” as a man, it’s likely just not as frequent.

The friendships born in these places are often ever-lasting, even if the language can often be terribly insensitive, and stupid.

If you ask a player after their career is finished what they miss most about the game, 99 percent of the time they will tell you it’s the locker room, or the clubhouse.

However, having been in several wrong conversations myself, and stood in countless locker rooms for too many hours to log, no one ever brags about assault, or committing a crime for that matter. No one freely admits, and boasts, of grabbing a woman’s genitalia.

It’s one thing to admit to kinky behaviors, provided the behavior is consensual. It’s quite another to admit to unwanted advances, or grabbing another person against their wishes.

What guys do admit to are ogling, drooling, dreaming and scoring, or planning to score. The language is brutal, raw and not for public consumption.

What Trump admitted to with a woman was a power grab, in the most literal sense of the word. It is also something he obviously had done before, with zero consequences. Even if it was hyperbole, there was a level of brazen candor there for a reason.

I know of one female ex-sportscaster whom he once asked if her wedding ring was for show.

While it is true that men have for centuries wielded their power for sexual gain that is far too often assault, dismissing such language as locker room antics is lazy, weak and decidedly untrue.

As coarse and disgusting as locker room talk can be, not even among all of the four-letter-filled testosterone and bicep-curl machismo is someone dumb enough to brag about assault.