Who would have imagined we'd ever be debating the nature of "locker room banter." In light of the events this past week, we are hearing from politicians, athletes, and coaches just exactly what is appropriate banter in locker rooms and what isn't. Donald Trump Dismisses His ‘Locker-Room Talk’ as Normal. Athletes Say It’s Not. Time Magazine Don't think our kids aren't paying attention.
As an former athlete and longtime coach, I am not perfect, nor do I profess to be the great moral arbiter of what is right. I've been around the gnarliest kind of locker rooms--that of high school boys--for 20 plus years, and I can attest to some severe shenanigans. But there's a difference between stashing a freshly captured 20 pound carp in someone's locker and talking rape.
Like anything, there is a thing called a "line", and my worry is that is that these kids, hearing from a public figure what locker room talk supposedly is, are influenced by a false reality.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to reframe the conversation and point high school kids to some books that dive into what a locker room really looks like and the benefits of a fun, yet positive environment. Below are some selections that you may want to put on the shelves this week and steer you teen athletes towards.
The Rookie Handbook humorously peeks into an NFL locker room and the rookie experience. Season of Life connects football and lessons gained behind the scenes to growth into manhood. You Win In the Locker Room First talks about the importance of building a positive attitude within the organization. Tales From the Duke Blue Devils Locker Room is a great look at the success of the Duke basketball team and legendary stories that fill a locker room. Finally, They Call Me Coach talks about the legendary John Wooden and his "Pyramid of Success" which hung proudly in UCLA locker rooms as a blueprint for living a good life and competing the right way.
Let's defeat the negativity and show our kids that locker rooms should be a place of friendship and camaraderie-in the right context. These books should help the cause.