Even lockers matter

Jack Welch On the Sidelines

Have you heard about the new lockers purchased for the Longhorn football players? These new lockers are not normal lockers. These lockers have lights, marquee scrolling and many other features. When most people think of a locker room, I would imagine they think about a place to dress and undress or a place to get gear on for practice or a game. Apparently, the coaches have much more in mind for the lockers in the Longhorn football locker room. 

Locker rooms are part of sport facilities. Usually, locker rooms are given very little thought except it being a place to change clothes. The University of Texas believes lockers and locker rooms are vital to building pride among their athletes.

The Longhorns will begin the 2017 college football season with a new locker room and new coaching staff. The lockers reportedly cost $8,700 each. Will the new lockers instill more pride; which will equate to more wins? I can only imagine the pride being instilled in the program with these new state of the art lockers. 

Facilities are a vital part of athletics. The facilities often give an indication of the pride surrounding sports programs. How important is it to have quality facilities? Are facilities important in building great teams? 

Stadiums are getting bigger and bigger. Practice facilities are continually being upgraded. Locker and weight rooms get larger and larger. Now, the University of Texas has built a football locker room nicer than any NFL team. Will this exorbitant locker room bring wins to the program? The UT administration believes recruits will view this unbelievable locker room as a major recruiting tool.

Many times facilities indicate the pride of a team. I have seen nice, new facilities that are trashy. When I see a program with trashy facilities, I usually see a program with very little pride. On the other hand, I have seen very nice facilities (regardless of cost and age) clean as a pen. Almost always these are great programs.

In 1998, CCISD built the athletic annex (field house). This facility houses the football players, weight room and athletic training facility. It is a metal building with sheetrock walls (about as cheap as a building can be built). After 19 years, the building looks almost new. The players do not wear their shoes in the hallways and the custodians do a fantastic job of keeping the facility clean and neat. Obviously, there is a great deal of pride housed in this facility. 

According to the Washington Post, facilities spending is a major reason athletic departments are experiencing deficits. In 2014 there were 48 schools in the five wealthiest conferences in college sports that spent $772 million on athletic facilities. This was an 89-percent increase from 2004. Big-time college athletic departments are taking in more money than ever and are spending it just as fast.

If facilities help build a positive atmosphere for sports teams, then how important are locker rooms? How far are school leaders willing to go in upgrading athletic programs? The Longhorns leaders have gone way over the rainbow in refurbishing their locker room. After suffering through three consecutive losing seasons, they felt like there was a need to take drastic steps. 

The Longhorns have been routinely defeated ever since the administration fired Mack Brown in 2013. Mack Brown finished as the winningest coach in history with a national title under his belt. The locker room housing his teams was a far cry from this beautiful, luxurious facility. 

From 2001 through 2009, Brown won 10 or more games each year. The Longhorns under Brown were 32-17 against their four archrivals: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas Tech and had a 10–5 bowl record. 

By the way, the Dawgs are happy and blessed to have the same lockers that have housed many greats for over 20 years. I know there will be a day when the lockers will be replaced but just think of the great tradition of Griffin, Tillman, Thomas, Boyce, Duff, Hollowell, Brock, Garner and so many more that were housed in the current lockers. I believe it is an honor for new players to get to use the same lockers. 

Thought for the week, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” Will Rogers 

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