Ines Sainz and a short history of female reporters in locker rooms
Updated, Thursday, 9 a.m.
Sports columnist Sally Jenkins questions the need for locker room interviews. "In what other profession does one set of people do business with another while they're partially or wholly unclothed?" Read her thoughts here.
Wednesday, 4 p.m.
Mexican journalist Ines Sainz went into the Jets locker room, likely hoping for a juicy story. Instead, she became the juicy story.
While Sainz waited to interview Mark Sanchez, players made a number of suggestive comments to her. Another journalist complained about the behavior. The Jets apologized. More football players weighed in, stepping into a political minefield. Sainz set out on the talk show circuit. And the conversation has devolved into a debate on how high journalists ought to button on their shirts and what type of towels players ought to use to cover themselves.
Beyond the TV show swirl of what constitutes sexual harassment, there is a battle being fought about integrating women into men's locker rooms.
"I really thought this issue was settled decades ago," The Post's Cindy Boren writes on her blog, The Early Lead.
In 1978, the U.S. District Court for Southern New York ruled that women should have equal access to the locker rooms after Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke was not allowed into the Yankees' clubhouse. It was not until 1985 that the NFL changed its policy.
However, male players were less than prepared to give up the privacy of the locker room. In 1986, Susan Fornoff of the Sacramento Bee received a rat from the Oakland A's Dave Kingman, who said women should not be in the clubhouse. In 1990 Lisa Olson clashed with the New England Patriots after being subjected to taunts in the locker room. That same year Detroit Free Press reporter Jennifer Frey (who later worked for The Post) asked for an interview with Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris and he said in very colorful language that he wouldn't be interviewed by a woman while he was changing clothes.
(For more on the history of women reporting on male athletes, see the photo gallery here.)
The NFL sent a memo Wednesday to its teams saying: "By law, women must be granted the same rights to perform their jobs as men. Please remember that women reporters are professionals and should be treated as such."
"I'm sympathetic to the issues on both sides," Boren writes. "The locker room isn't a Playboy Mansion for players nor is it Chippendale's for women reporters. ... It's a place for reporters and players to show mutual respect as everyone works."
Dan Steinberg tries to clear up a few of the misconceptions about women working in the men's locker room. "If you want to make this into some larger debate about female reporters entering locker rooms, please at least understand these facts," he writes.
The Post's readers have been weighing in on the topic. "If she were actually in the locker room just to do her job then she would not have been idle," tsmith_101 writes. "I don't condone the objectification of women but I also don't condone women behaving like objects and then throwing a fit when they're objectified."
"No reporters (male or female) should be in the locker room," wkeane writes. "Do real reporters go into politicians' bedrooms to interview them while they and other politicians are changing? No, of course not."
"While the NFL is looking into the behavior of its players and coaches, perhaps they should also look into a dress code: for players/coaches AND the media," kban495 writes.
Let us know what you think about the alleged incident, or head over to The Early Lead, where Boren's fielding questions.
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