Thursday, December 2, 2021
Dec. 2, 2021

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Real locker rooms are far from Trump’s stereotype

Commentary: Micah Rice

By , Columbian Sports Editor

Add athletes to the long and growing list of people Donald Trump has stereotyped and offended.

His flippant attempt last week to dismiss lewd comments about groping women as “locker room talk” has been widely panned by athletes, who know a little about real locker room banter.

“I haven’t heard that one in any locker room,” Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum wrote on Twitter.

“As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker room talk,” Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle wrote.

Trump and his supporters are probably saying “what’s the huuuge deal? It’s just a figure of speech.”

But athletes have every right to be offended. To say the locker room is a bastion of crassness and sexual depravity re-enforces the stereotype of the dumb hypersexual jock.

In reality, locker rooms are more like a regular workplace than they may seem. You’re likely to hear conversations about accountability, gameplans and the business aspect of sports.

If someone does talk about forcing themselves on women just because he’s a star, he’s more likely to get a cold shoulder than a fist bump.

“That was kind of crazy to be talking about a woman like that,” Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said. “Women are so important. Without women none of us would be here. So you can’t disrespect women at all. That stuff that’s going on, it’s terrible.”

Sure, the locker room is a highly-competitive, testosterone enfused environment, but it’s far from the stereotype that Trump relies on to justify his crude language.

With social media, the locker room has never been a more transparent place than it is now. You learn pretty quickly who the few idiots are. But you also see athletes are far from a monolithic block.

For example, former Seahawk Russell Okung is a high-tech geek. His “Tech Tuesdays with Russell” project sees him visit a different tech company each week in Denver, where he now plays. Through coding workshops, his foundation encourages at-risk youth to pursue careers in the tech sector.

Not exactly a dumb-jock move, is it?

Current Seahawk Doug Baldwin, a son of a police officer, was shaken by recent police shootings of black men. Instead of taking a knee, a la Colin Kaepernick, Baldwin met with Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Seattle Police Department to learn about how police are trained to handle potentially volatile situations. The goal, Baldwin said, is to foster a conversation about training tactics that benefits both police and suspects.

Not exactly an angry move, is it?

The locker room is many things. It’s both a pressure cooker and a sanctuary, a place where a team’s bonds are forged and frayed. And yes, there is even crude masculine humor.

But the locker room is not a place where wonton sexual talk and behavior get free rein.

To find that, you’ll likely have better luck in Trump Tower.

Micah Rice is The Columbian’s Sports Editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, or on Twitter @col_mrice.