Athletes and reporters are angry over Donald Trump’s characterization of their locker rooms

As Donald Trump loses big in the polls and refuses to take any responsibility his “locker room talk” continues to be a problem. These comments simply added to Trump’s long history of misogyny. And he doesn’t think he did anything wrong. Three times Donald Trump addressed his comments during the second presidential debate. Three times he dismissed his comments about sexually assaulting women flippantly and almost out-of-hand:

“I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”

“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS. ISIS happened a number of years ago in a vacuum that was left because of bad judgment. And I will tell you, I will take care of ISIS.”

“It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.”

And now athletescoaches and reporters have come out en masse to denounce Trump’s characterization of what is said in a locker room.

“Saying explicit things that you can do because you’re in a position of power? No, in 40-something years of coaching, that’s certainly not something I’ve ever been involved in,” said former UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun.

“Whenever someone uses the expression locker room talk, as in that’s how football players talk, they don’t know what goes on in our locker rooms,” University of Houston football coach Tom Herman said Monday on the American Athletic Conference weekly teleconference. “To lump all locker rooms into something like that is a bit unfair. … Our locker room is very considerate of everybody.”

“But what exactly constitutes “locker room talk,” anyway? What are the parameters of this secret dog whistle of conversation? The fact is, it doesn’t exist. Trump’s fantasy of a locker room is contradicted and proved ridiculous the minute you actually step into a real one. There are a range of characters and voices in that all-male haven. Let’s take the NFL as an example, because it’s in-season and has such a reputation for distorted masculinity. Ask some men who have been leaders in NFL locker rooms what they think of Trump’s hot mic tape from “Access Hollywood,” and here is what you get: sneers,” wrote Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post who has covered several sports and has been in locker rooms.

Finally, Chris Kluwe, author and former NFL player, has written a first-person article for Vox Media describing exactly what does constitute “locker room talk.”

“Now, Donald, I’m sure you’re wondering just what it is we talk about in a professional locker room…I shall educate you!

 “We talk about our families. We talk about our significant others, our children, and our parents. We talk about our fears that if a Hitler wannabe who can’t even string together a coherent statement on domestic policy becomes president, what that might mean for those of us who are married to a member of a minority community, or are a member of a minority community, or have children going to schools where hopefully nobody screams racial epithets at them or tells them to go back to [insert foreign country they couldn’t identify on a map here].

“We talk about travel. We talk about the cities we’ve seen, the stadiums we’ve played in, what vacations we might take in the offseason. We talk about what country might make a good safe haven if a Russian-backed presidential candidate whose foreign policy agenda can best be described as “gross negligence mixed with a spicy dash of treason” were to have control of our nation’s nuclear arsenal, and whether his stubby little baby fingers are strong enough to push in the launch codes on sturdy military-grade hardware.

“We talk about money. We talk about what other guys at our position are making, what our next contract might look like, and how much paying taxes each year sucks, since we’re in the highest tax bracket and play in multiple states, requiring multiple filings. We talk about how all of us pay taxes, every year, and wonder what a presidential candidate might have to hide if he so stubbornly refuses to release his returns, what possible foreign debts might be lurking in that finance closet he so desperately holds shut with every ounce of his contemptible mental faculties.

“We talk about women (and sex!). We talk about wives, sisters, mothers, daughters, fans, and groupies. Most guys respect women, some guys don’t, but never have I heard anyone use your particularly disgusting brand of sadism that refers to women as objects and not people. Even the most debauched club-hopping party animal talks about women more civilly than you. We don’t let each other talk like that about women, because it lessens our humanity, and even though we’re modern-day gladiators, we still hold ourselves accountable to the idea of basic human decency.

“We talk about jokes. Clean jokes, dirty jokes, jokes that are in between. Hell, I made a joke about Penn State that got me in trouble years later, because someone thought I was attacking the victims instead of the institution that allowed such depravity to happen. You know what I did? I apologized. I said I was sorry. I didn’t apologize with “if your feelings were hurt by it”; I didn’t try to deflect it by attacking someone else, or their spouse; I didn’t lie to an entire nation on live TV and say, “Nope, that never happened.” I simply said, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I’m accountable, I’ll do better next time.”

“So let me conclude with some advice for you, Donald. The next time you want to claim that something is “locker room talk,” take a moment to recognize the fact that were you in an actual locker room, you would be universally reviled as a cancerous, egotistical train wreck of a disgrace that no team could possibly find the time to employ and, honestly, would never even have on their draft board to begin with.”

By using “locker room talk” as a universal excuse for his comments Donald Trump has not simply offended those people who spend their lives in locker rooms and have a good idea of what is said there, but he has insulted their humanity. More than one athlete, coach and reporter have explained that not only are not all locker rooms the same but not all men are Donald Trump. The outpouring of criticism leveled by men at Donald Trump for his comments signals that they don’t think what he said was okay.

Is it possible some of these comments from athletes and coaches are a bit dishonest? That some of these type of comments are said in some locker rooms? Of course. Is it possible these reporters simply aren’t around when such comments are being made? Sure. Except it’s not one or two reporters commenting on one or two locker rooms where they interact with one or two players in one or two sports. It’s multiple athletes and coaches from every sport and multiple reporters who have covered every sport saying this type of talk isn’t condoned in locker rooms and is very rarely, if ever, heard.

Maybe locker rooms just have higher standards.

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