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Ines Sainz and a short history of female reporters in locker rooms

Ines Sainz
(Bill Kostroun/AP)

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.

By Melissa Bell  | September 15, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

Put a man in the womans locker room after the WNBA championship while the women are showering and everybody will see the why women shouldnt be in a place where men dress and shower.

Posted by: denfald | September 15, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree w/wkeane: No one should be interviewing anyone in a locker room! People are trying to get cleaned up. Who would want that?

On the flip side of this debate, are male reporters allowed into women's locker rooms? I can't recall a man interviewing a female gymnast, ice skater, or volleyball player in a locker room. Maybe it's happened and I missed it.

Posted by: ckn1074 | September 15, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Just type in Ines Sainz into Google image search. She doesn't seem very modest to me. I can see if maybe she was dressed like a nun. But come on. What does she think dressed like that? You go into a mens locker room and then you complain the guys like what they see? Give me a break.

Posted by: jzenman | September 15, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

She's quite cute. Is there some sort of problem here?

Posted by: muawiyah | September 15, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Ines doesn't DESERVE the treatment, but if you think she doesn't EXPECT to be treated like this occasionally, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Posted by: Chuckled | September 15, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

If they start allowing men in the female beach volleyball locker rooms, 80% of us will become part-time reporters, no lie!

Posted by: madstamina | September 15, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Let 'em in if they where burqas. Inez is a Miss Mexico who dresses in painted on jeans snd tight tops. A solid 12 when it comes to her flaunted lady parts. VERY bootyliscious. What's a young testosterone generating athlete supposed to do when she gets in front of him to look at him and ask questions? If he pops an involuntary woody it's her fault not his. She knows damn well what effect sexy women in hot clothes have on men, especially when they are pumped and covered only with a towel. Burqas, or modest attire is the only answer if these girls don't want to see males get aroused. You can only keep your mind on bowling for so long. Sorry, but that's the reality of the different reactions men have when facing women who deliberately dress provovatively to emphasize their ass-ets.

Posted by: tonymcgrath | September 16, 2010 4:07 AM | Report abuse

Let 'em in if they where burqas. Inez is a Miss Mexico who dresses in painted on jeans snd tight tops. A solid 12 when it comes to her flaunted lady parts. VERY bootyliscious. What's a young testosterone generating athlete supposed to do when she gets in front of him to look at him and ask questions? If he pops an involuntary woody it's her fault not his. She knows damn well what effect sexy women in hot clothes have on men, especially when they are pumped and covered only with a towel. Burqas, or modest attire is the only answer if these girls don't want to see males get aroused. You can only keep your mind on bowling for so long. Sorry, but that's the reality of the different reactions men have when facing women who deliberately dress provovatively to emphasize their ass-ets and act kittenish and pouty with bee stung lips.

Posted by: tonymcgrath | September 16, 2010 4:10 AM | Report abuse

The locker room as described by Dan Steinberg is not really a locker room. Based upon what he describes, it is more like an equipment room, not a place where players shower and dress.

The media and courts have it all wrong though.

As for the courts, the locker room is under the control of the team and they control access to it.

As for the media, if a team excludes females reporters from an area where other females are permitted to work, then the male reporters should not work there either as company policy. Female reporters whose employers don't adhere to this rule may have a course of action against them in the courts.

It is the right of players to act less serious and less formal in private areas of the team's facilities. Indeed, pyschologists have found that "bonding" is an important part of the teamwork concept and leads to positive outcomes on the playing field. Therefore, when in restricted areas designated for the use of team players, it is the team members whose interests prevail over the right of a female reporter to practice her trade on equal footing to a male. Reversed.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 16, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

In the first place, Ines was NOT the one complaining; someone else was.

Second, men ARE allowed into women's locker rooms, it's just that nobody cares enough about women's sports to send a male reporter to interview them.

Posted by: oldbam | September 16, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I do not see why anyone from the media must be in the locker room full of men or women changing. As wkeane pointed out in the article "do the media interview (government employees) in their bedrooms? Of course not. Most stadiums now have a media room. Why cannot the interviews all take place there. Then the leagues should have a standard dress code for team staff and players as well as media members. I have noticed that the NBA has cracked down on what players can wear to and from games. They are professionals and paid very handsomely as are players in other leagues. I am sure most of them have more than a few expensive suits. Why not get their moneys worth by actually wearing them? If locker rooms are made off limits to all media members then that does not violate any law. The players can enjoy their right to privacy. Wives and girlfriends or husbands and boyfriends can rest easier about their significant other being on display in various states of undress to the opposite sex. Where is the harm in that? Personally I just don't care about an on camera interview from any locker room. The same thing could be said in the media room of the sports venue. The teams who win championships should be able to revel in the locker room and exchange private congratulations and cut up as they see fit without worrying who might be watching and/or offended. They earned the win. Let them enjoy it. Then they can go to the media room and answer any questions there. This solution seems much better than allowing women into men's locker rooms. How many men are permitted to interview women in the ladies locker room under the same circumstances and dress? Anyone ever see any tennis or golf players interview in a locker room? It seems to work when they use a media room. Why don't all sports teams use this solution? Perhaps it will solve the issues of the past week particularly if all are adhering to professional dress codes.

Posted by: jce49469 | September 16, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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