Beyond the Bison: Trump and locker room talk

Isabelle Hinckley, Senior Writer

If you’ve turned on a TV or glanced at a newspaper in the past week, you probably know by now that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was caught on tape in 2005 making aggressively crude, derogatory and frankly predatory comments about women.

While on the set of “Days of Our Lives” for a small cameo role, Trump and Billy Bush bantered back and forth, unaware that their microphones were live. However, this seemingly casual conversation was nothing but a lewd colloquy resembling sexual assault. The tape was released in the beginning of October, only two days before the second presidential debate. Trump’s words were explosive and ugly—so ugly that it was difficult to listen at times. In response to the leaked tape, Trump stated he wasn’t proud of what he said eleven years ago, but this conversation was merely “locker room talk.”

As I listened to the recording for the first time, I couldn’t help but cringe. I wasn’t cringing because I find it humorous to hear a presidential candidate say “I moved on her like a b—h, but I couldn’t get there,” or “grab them by the p—y.” I was cringing because as a female athlete who competed throughout high school and college, I can’t imagine a single one of my teammates making comments on a level even close to these. I was cringing because I never thought I would hear those disgusting words strung together, specifically from the mouth of a possible world leader. These are not comments that are tossed around the locker room after a tough practice—these are comments that describe sexual assault. I would like to know what locker room you were a part of, Mr. Trump.

Directly after the recording went viral, professional athletes fired back. Several resorted to Twitter to express their opinions; all agreeing these vulgar remarks have never been commonplace in men’s locker rooms. Major League Baseball pitcher Sean Doolittle wrote, “As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker room talk.” Kendall Marshall, NBA player for the Philadelphia 76ers, stated, “sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk.”

From the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James said, “what goes on in our locker room is sporting events that happened the night before, about family, about strategies that we may have that night.” The list goes on. One after another, famous athletes agreed that Trump’s comments were absolutely absurd.

This sparked my interest—I wanted to know what Bison athletes thought of the topic. After all, college-aged people are at a critical point of acquiring information and using it to identify their personal opinions and views. So I sat in the middle of campus with my laptop and stopped every athlete that walked by me.

Matt O’Reilly ’19 of the basketball team said, “we spend a lot of time in the locker room. Nothing even close to what Trump said is ever the topic of conversation.” O’Reilly thought for a minute before adding, “it’s pretty appalling that he would try to justify saying things like that by describing it as locker room talk.”

Ben Derleth ’18 on the soccer team, told me that although he and his teammates do talk about girls every once in a while, “nothing is ever as vulgar or profane as what Trump said.” John Morcos ’19 from the crew team said, “I can understand how casual talk with your teammates and close friends can lead to conversations which can be found inappropriate and insulting…but I’ve never experienced a conversation as demeaning and insulting to women as the specific remarks made by Trump.”

Just like the series of tweets from professional athletes, each person responded in relatively the same manner. Their gut reaction was that this wasn’t, in any sense of the term, “locker room talk.” Trump’s recording was just crass. Without even considering the political campaign, there seems to be a widespread agreement: Trump boasting about groping women without consent and making comments all too close to sexual assault isn’t what athletes talk about. Frankly, it’s not what anyone should talk about. Doesn’t the position of presidency in our country require higher standards?

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