Sports controversies continue to revolve around issues of abuse and violence. These issues occur within team confines, as was the case with the Miami Dolphins and Richie Incognito, or off the field and away from the team as seen in the Ray Rice domestic abuse case. David Steele of Sporting News discusses the implications of locker room culture on SCI TV. He examines what worked for the Dolphins in their response and what other teams should do to improve the locker room as a work place.

David Steele on Off Field Issues

David Steele has been covering the NFL for many years and has focused more on off-the-field issues such as the impact cases like the Dolphins bully scandal and the Ray Rice domestic abuse case.

“I get to dig into the issues that affect the players as individuals,” David Steele says. “The interactions between players and management and players and coaches has given me insight into where sports and athletes fit into society.”

Locker Rooms as Work Places

On the challenges of addressing team culture, David Steele thinks that the unique interdependence of teammates creates a work environment unlike other professions, bringing out the best and the worst in athletes. That can also mean education on what life will be like after their career is over.

“You can’t act the way that you’re allowed to act within the team confines out there in the real world,” David Steele said. “There is an adjustment in the athlete’s life that they have to make once this sport is over.”

Improving the Locker Room

So what can be done to change the locker room into a different kind of work place? Organizations have to change their mentality to understand and support respectful team camaraderie. The Miami Dolphins’ response to the bullying scandal is a prime example of what other teams can learn.

“The biggest thing they did was they got the toxic element out of the locker room,” David Steele said, referring to Incognito. “Then they really developed a theme that went top to bottom, from ownership down through management, the coaching staff and the players, that there can’t be any of the clicks and divisiveness that was being formed in that locker room.”

Learning From the Best

David Steele points to the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and San Antonio Spurs as models for professional locker rooms. They are able to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together to succeed as a team.

“They are good examples because even as players come and go, these guys really do care for each other,” David Steele said. “They somehow come together, to not only win a lot but to want to stay together and succeed together.”
More teams could learn from their example.