Ventriss: Locker Room Talk

Oct 24, 2016

Once a year, I gather with my fellow state business roundtable executives to network, commiserate, and share best practices. This year we met in Detroit, where I happened to stay at the same hotel as the LA Rams football team, who were in town to play the Lions.

At the onset, let me state that the Rams are my brother’s favorite football team, and interestingly enough, my husband is the former professor of the team’s head coach. So, when I checked into the hotel on Saturday for my meetings and literally ran into the LA Rams team, I was delighted!

Now, pretty much everyone knows that ‘locker room talk’ has become an issue in the current presidential campaign, and over the course of an afternoon, I had occasion to observe and interact with the team to see how their behavior compared to what some argue is typical. For the record, because I am the mother of three sons who played team and club sports in high school and college, I take offense at those assertions. We taught our boys to be gentlemen first, then scholars and athletes… but back to the Rams.

That my husband actually knows the Rams’ head coach means we’re practically related, so I took this opportunity to make some connections and send greetings. My first interaction was with a player who, by virtue of his size, had to be a defensive lineman. As large as my refrigerator, he was cordial when I approached, had a warm and welcoming demeanor, and demonstrated no kind of misogynistic affect at all.

Then, I spoke to a group of assistant coaches who clearly had the next day’s game on their minds, but were nevertheless friendly and generous in responding to my good wishes. I saw players with their wives or girlfriends enjoying a meal, others carrying young children in their arms, and still others in twos and threes walking around the property and behaving like the gentlemen they are.

Admittedly, this small survey sample is not statistically significant. I also did not go into their locker room. So, there could be men behaving badly in there, but the players I observed were behaving like gentlemen; like people you’d enjoy getting to know.

How ironic to think that in this presidential election cycle professional athletes might be able to teach the politicians a thing or two about good behavior.