Perpetuated in the world of sport for many years, this well-known expression has fortunately come under fire in recent days. The recent events involving professional coaches (e.g. Mike Babcock and Bill Peeters among others) have revealed that what happens on the field or in the locker room should no longer be limited to a team’s internal management and remain a jealously guarded secret. This code of silence in sports locker rooms warrants reflection so that we question this practice and ask ourselves who actually benefits from this unwritten rule.
The recent revelations lead us to ask why a sport locker room should be like a lawyer’s or doctor’s office, where everything that is said necessarily becomes confidential. If we stop for a moment and consider the details of the stories that were revealed last week, it is very easy to conclude that it is “normal” to keep things secret, since these stories have nothing particularly enlightening about them. There’s nothing about these embarrassing stories that could make anyone feel proud. To the point where these practices clearly deserve to be exposed loudly and vigorously!
Dear coaches, rest assured that we are not saying that everything that happens and is said in a locker room should be made public! Even more so, since we recognize that disagreements and conflicts are inevitable and occur on a team, just like in a business or in a family. However, these situations usually don’t require a frank conversation between the persons concerned to be resolved. That said, it is crucial that this unwritten rule be questioned since, in certain cases and for certain types of individual, it opens the door wide to all types of excesses and abuse.
“For the team’s well-being” Really?
For those who still think that the purpose of such a rule it to protect the team, often considering like a family, and want problems to be settled internally (as a family)… they are perpetuating the idea that the unacceptable becomes acceptable in certain places or contexts. As if something that happened “just once at the cottage” the slate can be wiped clean. All that to say that a locker room is no different from any other place. Anything that you would not endure or suffer elsewhere in your daily life is just as unacceptable on your team with your teammates and your coach. In short, why do we look away in a sports context?
Fortunately, the recent revelations illustrate a phenomenon and allow us to say that we must refuse the unacceptable and report and instances of abuse or violence… even if they take place on your team. In this regard, the message sent out last week by Mitch Marner, star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is a good step: “If something like this has already happened, it should be made public. If some people want to speak up, let them do it.” In which case, these people should be supported and encouraged to act.
Remember, if you are a victim or witness inadequate or unacceptable behaviour in your sport environment, contact us in complete confidentiality. We are there to listen and advise you. Together, we will succeed in undermining this mentality and eliminating this culture of secrecy.