Drama in Locker Room B: When the Screenwriters Jump Onboard, Maybe Then We'll See a Morality Play in College Sports

Article excerpt

SCENE: IT IS AUTUMN, SOME MONTHS INTO THE FUTURE. WE ARE in the men's locker room of a university campus football stadium, somewhere in the U.S. A tone mate figure dad only in football uniform from the waist down sits--knees spread, back stumped--on the long stretch of bench running before an endless wall of Lockers. His forehead rests heavily in his hands, which are propped up by elbows on wide-set thighs. His face is hidden from our view. Helmet and other gear are strewn on the bench, to his side. Sweat runs down his back. There is no one else in sight.

Gradually, in the distance, we hear faintly the sound of two male voices getting closer. Someone is coming. The talk ceases abruptly; we can tell that the two are parting. Shortly, we see a sole figure dad in khakis and golf shirt, enter from the right. It is the coach. He is standing off to the fight of the young man on the bench, and behind him.

Coach: I thought you'd be here. Look, Ben, we have to talk about this.

Ben: (A long pause before he speaks; head still in hands; words, when they come, directed at the floor.) I don't have anything to say.

Coach: That's not good enough. Look at me, Ben. (Ben drops his hands to his knees, and turns his, face to look at the coach.) You can't stomp out of practice every time you hear something you don't like. Every time the going gets a little rough.

Ben: A little rough? (He is incredulous.) You're asking me to lie, Coach. That's not 'a little rough: I don't lie.

Coach: (Coming up behind the young man, he moves around the bench, and stands in front of him. Ben's eyes follow him as he moves.) Everyone lies, Ben. That's life. That's the real world. That's part of growing up; part of the game. You're either in, or you're out. That's how life works, kid.

Ben: (He shakes his head.) That's not how it works for me, Coach, and I'm not gonna lie to save some other kid's butt. Some perverted kid who shouldn't even be at this school, or praying ball. That's not what I'm here for.

Coach: (He moves closer to Ben, and looking down at him, spits the words that follow.) listen, you--you're here for the team, and this school is paying for you to be here for the team, and you'll say what I tell you to say, if that's what it takes to protect the team and your teammates. Do you get me?

Ben: (He looks away, jaw tensed. There is heavy silence hanging in the thick air between them. Then, Ben rises slowly until his own face is only inches from the coach's. He fixes the coach steadily with his eyes.) This is what I 'get" coach: I 'get' that I'm here to work as hard as I can to get decent grades and pray football. …