CLOSE LOCKER ROOM DOORS TO ALL MEDIA

Now that the racket over “sports reporter” Ines Sainz has subsided a bit, let me make a few points. Sainz, for those of you who have been residing in a cave the past week, is the Mexican TV Azteca reporter who entered the N. Y. Jets locker room looking like a Las Vegas hooker.

First, I have never understood the double standard here. Why are women reporters allowed to enter locker rooms where men are walking around in the buff while male reporters are not allowed to do the same in the locker rooms of female athletes?

Second, why is it necessary for reporters–be they male or female–to enter any locker room where athletes are showering, getting dressed, undressed, etc?

I spent most of my life as a foreign and national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. As such, I covered a lot of international sports–the Olympics, international basketball games, baseball, football etc.

Like other reporters I was allowed into locker rooms to interview male athletes–never female athletes. Even so, I never felt really comfortable talking to naked male athletes and I am sure I would have had trouble forming intelligent questions talking to naked female athletes.

So why not bar both men and women from locker rooms. Why can’t the athletes be made available after a contest and before they hit the showers? Or if that won’t work, why not wait until they have showered and dressed before reporters are granted access?

OK, I have heard some of the arguments. Reporters have deadlines and need to get to the athletes asap. Bull! The 10 or 15 minutes athletes need to shower and dress are hardly going to make a difference–not today when stories are posted on the Internet with seconds of a sporting event.

The Ines Sainz affair is one in a long line of similar cases involving women in men’s locker rooms. Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis had his knuckles rapped by team big wigs for saying it, but his comments about Sainz had a ray of truth about them, i.e., that the combination of female reporters and “53 male packages” on display was a recipe for….well, you figure it out.

The idea here is that women reporters who enter locker rooms are “professionals” and should be treated as such. Once again, however, there is a need for some propriety here. Ms. Sainz entered the N.Y. Jets locker wearing jeans that looked like they were painted on. OK, we can argue that no matter what a person wears that is no excuse for boorish behavior or cat calls–things that went on in the Jets locker room when Sainz walked in.

But what about male reporters? Are they not “professionals” too? Can’t they then be allowed to enter women’s locker rooms the same way female reporters are allowed to enter men’s locker rooms? Apparently not. Apparently they are not “professional” enough.

Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears may have said it best when he said no female reporters should be allowed in a men’s locker room.

“This is the same place where grown men are taking showers,” he said. “This is the place where we [use the bathroom], and right outside of all these places we’re surrounded by media. As we’re drying off, we’re [unclothed] and trying to answer questions at the same time. It’s our realm. It’s our realm. The media has been welcomed into our realm. I’m not saying what happened there [in New York] is OK, but at the same time, maybe she didn’t belong in there. The men’s locker room is for men. Just like the women’s locker room is for women.”

The best solution is to ban the media from ALL locker rooms where athletes are showering, getting dressed, etc. Many colleges already do this and it is the right thing for the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB to do also.

Keep the locker room doors closed to all media. Short of that allow reporters in only if they are blindfolded.

After all, why are reporters at a sporting event anyway? To cover the game, the match, the race, etc.

They are definitely NOT there to become the center of attention in the men’s locker room. And yet that is what Ms. Sainz achieved….and I have a feeling that is exactly what she wanted.

Comments

comments