Published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette on October 19, 2016.
Athletes have been taking a stand against what Donald Trump called “locker room talk” and Amherst College men’s soccer player David Lander wrote his opinion on the issue for the Huffington Post.
During the latest town hall debate, Trump addressed the comments he made in a recently released audio recording from 2005. In the audio clip, Trump can be heard making disparaging, lewd and sexist comments toward women.
During the debate, he dismissed the comments he made as “locker room talk,” but athletes like Lander and his fellow Amherst teammates took issue with what he claims happens in a locker room.
Lander, a senior defender, joined the many athletes who have spoken out against Trump’s commentary. Other athletes who have expressed their opinion include NBA stars LeBron James and Blake Griffin, and NFL receiver Golden Tate.
Lander penned an op-ed titled “On Behalf Of The Amherst Men’s Soccer Team: This is not our locker room” that was published by the Huffington Post on Sunday. Lander described that the “locker room talk” that Trump discussed is not present in the Amherst locker room. The article had nearly 40,000 likes on Facebook by Tuesday evening.
“I emailed the entire team because it’s one thing to come from a single person, but I think it’s a stronger message if it comes from a team,” Lander said during an interview Tuesday.
According to teammate and fellow senior Forest Sisk, Lander collaborated with the team, asking everyone if they were on board with his writing on behalf of the group.
“After the Trump comments and how LeBron and all these athletes were talking about ‘not our locker room’, (David) wanted to get in on” the narrative, said Sisk.
Amherst head coach Justin Serpone was happy that his team was able to show leadership on and off the field.
“I’m proud of David and the guys for their take and putting themselves out there and putting together that article,” Serpone said. “We strive to be a leader (in showing respect to everyone) and David took a lot of accountability and put it out there.”
The story has gained attention in the Amherst community and around the country. Women’s soccer star Abby Wambach tweeted Lander’s article saying, “This needs to be read, and retweeted, and reposted. Proud is an understatement.”
Here is a sample of what Lander wrote:
“As a sports team, we have found success by valuing the ideal of doing the right thing even when no one is watching. This ideal applies not just to athletic competition, but equally to respecting people: respect is not simply an act you put on for people in the room with you; it is how you speak about them when they are not present.
We know that college sports athletes throughout the country have been involved in many cases of sexual abuse. It is absolutely unacceptable that 1 in 5 women on college campuses experience sexual abuse. This needs to change.
One part of creating this necessary change is changing how women are talked about – both in public and in private. Our team is by no means perfect on these fronts, but we want to be part of the solution.
We strive to not only keep this kind of offensive talk out of our locker rooms, we also try to actively prevent it elsewhere. We and the other teams at Amherst have made it a priority to speak out and campaign against sexual violence.”
Amherst College President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin tweeted the article and wrote, “Proud of @davidlander and soccer team for this ethical stance on #lockerroomtalk”
“I don’t want the publicity to be about the team or us,” Lander said, “because (respect) is something that should be normal, it shouldn’t be something that anyone is applauded for.”
“There’s been positive and negative responses,” Lander added. “I think that it’s really cool how much positive response people have had.”
Lander hopes that his article inspires other athletes to speak out against sexual violence, and that the “not our locker room” movement continues through social media.