Big Ten Should Regulate Visiting Locker Room Amenities
Jim Harbaugh didn’t mince words on Monday in regards to his team’s trip to Ross-Ade Stadium at Purdue University.
Portion of Harbaugh's rant pic.twitter.com/yu9s8CXyHn
— angelique (@chengelis) September 25, 2017
Purdue has a brand new football complex, but it looks like the visiting team amenities are not good. Wow. pic.twitter.com/ARQHrXTXDX
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 25, 2017
Harbaugh made his thoughts clear about how he feels Purdue treated its guests last Saturday. Purdue, a university that’s been making major upgrades to its facilities, apparently hasn’t gotten to the visiting locker room. I guess it wasn’t high on their list.
No air conditioning on a day in which temperatures in West Lafayette rose into the 90s is dangerous for player safety. Why? Because the temperatures are even hotter on the playing surface.
These players, after putting their bodies on the line for 30 minutes of game action, head to the locker room hot and exhausted. But the locker room didn’t greet them with cool, refreshing air. It met them with a 110-degree heat index.
The lack of air conditioning in a visiting locker room for a university that receives over $40 million in revenue sharing from its conference is no joking matter, especially when it increases the likelihood of cramps, heat exhaustion, dehydration and even heat stroke.
And the X-ray equipment and table? If it’s even close to how Harbaugh describes, then it isn’t nearly good enough. Players put their health and well-being on the line with each down; the least a university could do is make sure the proper equipment is in place in case of serious injury.
Harbaugh’s Monday rant even reached Ohio State, and it saw Urban Meyer siding with his bitter conference rival.
Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh finding common ground on trashing Purdue's garbage facilities. There's hope yet for this world.
— Ryan Ginn (@rmginn) September 25, 2017
Now in Purdue’s defense, staffers from opposing universities did get to tour their facilities during the summer. So they had an idea of what to expect.
Purdue has responded to Jim Harbaugh's comments: pic.twitter.com/Skzo2S1lFq
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) September 25, 2017
But the issue at hand has nothing to do with a tour before the road trip. This has to do with player safety and with universities being miserly when their staffers are making sizeable salaries.
There’s a difference between gamesmanship or giving your team an advantage at home and health hazards or neglect. Iowa’s pink locker rooms? Gamesmanship. Purdue’s lack of air conditioning? Health hazard.
And that’s why I agree with Harbaugh and Meyer when they advocate for Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany to regulate these matters. When it comes to the potential health of players, you can’t take shortcuts.
Plus, this is the Big Ten. Universities and athletic programs should take pride in their facilities. Every athletic department races to build the nicest facilities for its own players. Spend a little money to make sure your facilities for opposing players are suitable for the 21st Century, too.
Now I’m not advocating for flat screen TVs, leather sectionals and room service. But I do think that when it comes to player safety, universities who get paid through revenue sharing within their conferences should have visiting facilities on equal footing. We aren’t savages; we’re human beings.
If the Big Ten sets regulations and guidelines and actually enforces those rules, you decrease the risk of long-term harm to players’ health.
That doesn’t mean the visiting locker rooms have to be as nice as your home locker room. But it does mean your visiting locker room doesn’t pose a threat or contribute as a health hazard.
If you really need that much help to win college football games, then you might as well pack it up and quit taking the field on Saturdays.