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Athletes speak out against Trump's locker room talk

Posted October 20

Donald Trump has repeated several times over the last two weeks that the lewd comments he made in a 2005 leaked video were just “locker room talk.”

"I don't think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. I apologize to my family,” he said at the debate, CNN reported. “I apologize to the American people. Certainly I'm not proud of it. But this is locker room talk."

He later defended the comments as “locker-room talk” before he championed his ability to take down the Islamic State.

"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."

And he continued to say he wasn’t proud of it.

"It was locker room talk, as I told you,” he said. “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."

But notable professional athletes spoke out last week against the comments, saying that Trump’s comments are far from real locker-room talk.

LeBron James is one of these athletes. On Wednesday, the NBA’s reigning champion said that Trump’s comments were “trash talk” — not “locker-room talk,” according to USA Today.

"What is locker room talk to me? It's not what that guy said," James said, according to USA Today. "We don't disrespect women. … That never comes up.”

James, who endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in a Business Insider opinion piece, said that his locker room talk consists of game strategy and tidbits about the players’ respective families.

Houston Texans' Duane Brown echoed James’ statements, saying athletes never encourage their fellow professionals to “grab anything.”

“We keep it very clean,” he told The Houston Chronicle.

Meanwhile, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady issued no response. ESPN reported that Brady walked out of a press conference when he was asked how he would respond if his children heard Trump’s lewd locker-room talk.

Of course, it should be noted that Brady is a well-known Trump supporter, and he even has a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker, according to ESPN.

Trump surrogate Ben Carson defended Trump’s comments, too, saying he has been exposed to locker-room talk many times growing up. He told CNN that there would be less outrage about Trump’s comments if locker-room talk was more common.

So what exactly is said in a locker room? Bill Pennington of The New York Times, who has covered professional sports for years and has had many experiences inside locker rooms, said that the locker-room talk that Trump refers to doesn’t exist en masse.

He noted that yes, there are times when female reporters are harassed and females are degraded. But it’s not as common as you’d think based on Trump’s comments.

“There have been many, repeated episodes in which players accosted, harassed and berated women reporters in men’s locker rooms because of their gender,” he wrote. “Some have exposed themselves to female reporters in a way that appeared to go beyond undressing for the shower, though this kind of behavior was far more common when female reporters first began working in male locker rooms.”

Still, he wrote that the bulk of conversations focus on strategies for games and injuries, not lewd comments about women.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme told Pennington that he doesn’t want Trump’s definition of locker-room talk to be normalized, for it is simply untrue.

“I showered after our game but I feel like I need another one after watching the debate,” he told Pennington. “The attempt to normalize it as any type of ‘talk’ is wrong. I refuse to let my son think that this is ‘just how men speak.’”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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