What Every Locker Room Has Known From Knute Rockne To Mike Ditka

What happens in Vegas — and in locker rooms — stays there!

Come on folks, even ditsy cheerleaders have known that, ever since they earned their first pom pom. However, there is this “code.” You know, every organization from the Vatican to the KKK has a code that reads: “Break me and we break you.”

In recent years it has become fashionable to betray these codes if and when there is a good reason. Say like it’s-the-right-thing-to-do, it-means-a-really-fat-book-contract, or it-gets-me-on-the-cover-of-the-National-Enquirer.

The football locker room code’s best known secret is that we’re high paid gladiators pumped and pampered for only one mission: Break bodies. This in turn means we pretend we are athletes and not animals whenever we go before the media. Of course, the media know we’re animals, but they too honor the code.

Where all this gets morally messy is when (1) most of the code breakers are White, and (2) most of the troubled gladiators are Black.

How to explain that without being racist…? That’s like how to explain one’s displeasure with Israel without being anti-Semitic…? The sportswriter who can answer that would be my candidate for TIME’s person-of-the-year.

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