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Coaches, Players Dispute Trump's Locker Room Talk Label

When Donald Trump used the phrase "locker room talk" to explain a sexually charged conversation he had on a bus 11 years ago with former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, it painted a specific image, one that many coaches and athletes are disputing.

When Donald Trump used the phrase "locker room talk" to explain a sexually charged conversation he had on a bus 11 years ago with former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, it painted a specific image, one that many coaches and athletes are disputing.

"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."

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At Sunday night's town hall presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump hammered the "locker room" point home a number of times when asked to explain himself in connection with his comments.

"It's locker room talk, and it's one of those things," Trump said. "This was locker room talk. I am not proud of it. I apologized to my family and the American people. I am not proud of it. This is locker room talk."

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Just as many Republicans have reacted to Trump, many athletes and coaches have rushed to distance themselves from that image.

At the second presidential debate, Donald Trump dismisses the "Access Hollywood" video as "locker room talk."

"What [Trump] is saying, justifying what he said or did as 'common in locker rooms,' I reject that," veteran Windsor High boys basketball coach Ken Smith said. " ... He hasn't been in our locker room, I can guarantee you that. So what's he talking about? Listen, we don't allow that language in the locker room. We have young men in a school setting. We are trying to teach them to be better men. If we do hear players use inappropriate language, we stop it."

The reaction has been just as swift from the world of professional sports.

"I haven't heard that in any locker room," tweeted NBA player C.J. McColum.

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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.


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"Just for reference. I work in a locker room [every day]. ... That is not locker room talk. Just so you know," NFL receiver Chris Conley tweeted. "Have I been in every locker room? No. But the guys I know and respect don't talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that. Period."

The locker room is certainly a place where athletes are known to express themselves, sometimes in a ribald manner. But many coaches and players were quick to point out it is not one where men routinely take pleasure in objectifying women, especially in the graphic manner Trump did.

"As an athlete, I've been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that's not locker room talk," MLB pitcher Sean Doolittle tweeted.

"Claiming Trump's comments are 'locker room banter' is to suggest they are somehow acceptable. They aren't," NBA star Dahntay Jones added.

Former UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun has been around locker rooms much of his life.

"When I heard it, I just thought, 'that's not us, that's not athletes in a locker room.' We may say some stupid things, but sexually explicit things like this? I don't think so," Calhoun said.

"When athletes are on the court, or in the locker room, you're going to hear some profanity, sure. I've used some language I wouldn't want people using, you do it to get players' attention maybe, or to make a point. That's in the privacy of the locker room.

"When talking to one another, would someone say they thought a girl was pretty? Yes. Or had a nice figure? Yes. They might throw some other words in there. But saying sexually explicit things [such as on the Trump tape], 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."

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Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery took offense to Trump's comments.

"I definitely don't like the stereotype that goes along with [Trump's comments]," Montgomery said. "I can promise you that in our program and in our locker rooms we're talking to young men about being good husbands and good fathers and being good leaders in our community. Those are the qualities we are trying to instill in our football team, our young men."

At the high school level, the aspect of a coach being a teacher, too, is important.

"Sixty years ago, if people used some of the language that's said today, well, it would be very rare," Platt-Meriden football coach Jason Bruenn said. "Today you hear swearing in music, social media, YouTube, all over. It's more commonplace. I try to promote a professional locker room. That kind of language isn't acceptable. Of course, it happens sometimes, but it happens everywhere, today more than in the past.

"I'm not pro-Trump or anti-Trump. I'm talking as a high school coach. You know that football locker room 'where boys will be boys,' it's an easy stereotype to pick off and try to use. But it's wrong. Because football is a school activity, we don't tolerate such language."

At New Britain High, there are even rules that govern behavior in the locker room.

"Our rule in school is no swearing. If a coach hears it, he tells that person to shut up, very simple," New Britain athletic director Len Corto said. "It's not appropriate or acceptable.

"Does bad language and talk happen? Yes, obviously it does. But I don't buy it, and it's an unfair statement to say those kind of derogatory things against women that were said [by Trump] happen all the time."

Staff writer Dom Amore contributed to this story.

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