Female Reporters in Men’s Locker Rooms

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Spanish reporter Ines Sainz (former Miss Spain 1997) was reportedly “harassed” (that is, players in the locker room were making comments about her) in the Jets’ locker room, and now there’s all sorts of controversy. First of all, Sainz herself has posted a picture on Twitter of what she was wearing that day to show that she wasn’t dressed provocatively, “Algunos medios aseguran que iba inapropiadamente vestida con los Jets! Exactamente estaba asi!” (“Some media are reporting that I was inappropriately dressed with the Jets! I was exactly like this!”). She followed up with another couple defensive tweets: “Unos jeans y una camisa blanca de botones con unas botas no tienen nada de inapropiado!” (A pair of jeans, a white button-down shirt, and a pair of boots are not inappropriate!”) and “Esto por lo que se comentaba hoy respecto a mi presencia con los jets!” (“This is for those who were commenting today about my presence with the Jets”).

First of all, such problems are indeed plentiful throughout the industry—the women who cover men’s teams are regularly victims of boorish, sexist treatment by both players and fans. There is no excuse for such behavior, and the players involved here should be held accountable for their lack of professionalism. It is not Sainz’s responsibility to avoid such boorish treatment. She is doing her job, and these men should (and do) know better.

That said, for Sainz, the self-proclaimed “hottest sports reporter in Mexico” to then claim that she “deserve[s] to be treated as if she were a man” seems to want to have things both ways. Moreover, let’s not pretend that this has been anything but a wonderful bit of publicity for Sainz, who I certainly had never heard of before this but now, thanks to the publicity from this “issue,” has been plastered all over ESPN for a few days. That’s another pet peeve of mine—these sorts of manufactured publicity pieces end up reducing the impact of real situations of abuse that might not include such a beautiful woman—there are lots of excellent female reporters who aren’t “the hottest sports reporter in wherever” but receive similar mistreatment despite going about their work with the utmost professionalism.

As someone who has spent more than my share of time in locker rooms, I tend to agree with the idea (poorly expressed and then apologized for by Clinton Portis and unapologetically expressed by Jason Whitlock) that it would be better if female reporters were not permitted in the locker room. (To clarify: I am not vouching for most of what Portis said, though I agree with the larger point about reporters in the locker room). This isn’t only for the reporters’ sake; I know that not every athlete is especially comfortable with the fact that there are women in the locker room while they might be showering and changing, and many athletes have spouses that aren’t comfortable with the situation.

I should note that when I was at Florida State, there was a short period after practices, scrimmages, and games when media weren’t allowed in the locker room so that we could hustle through our showers and be dressed by the time anyone was permitted in the locker room. That is fairly standard, and it’s a reasonable work-around. Yes, I know it sounds sexist to say women reporters shouldn’t be in men’s locker rooms; but, generally speaking, male reporters don’t have similar access to the locker rooms of women’s sports (WNBA and NCAA tournament basketball excepted). A double standard does exist—largely under the assumption that female reporters can stay “professional” inside men’s locker rooms while men generally can’t do the same. Let’s put it this way: if a female athlete complained that she doesn’t want male reporters in the locker room, would we have the same negative reaction? Isn’t that sexist, too?

But I don’t think Portis and Whitlock went far enough. I don’t just think female reporters should be barred from the locker room but all reporters. My preference would be to bar all reporters from the locker room and have players come out to an interview area by request. This would be true equal treatment and would help restore some privacy and sense of sacred team space in the locker room. And no, the media doesn’t need access to the locker room to be able to see how athletes feel after the game (another pet peeve: “how does it feel” questions are the worst). This rule would help prevent such situations from occurring, though it is important to emphasize again that the presence of Sainz and other women in locker rooms does not give an excuse for boorish behavior by the men in those locker rooms. Contrary to what many suggest, it is possible to believe such men should be held accountable while also taking practical steps to make such situations less likely.

Tags: English, media, Sports, Translation

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Spot on. Likewise Whitlock. Why should female athletes be allowed privacy but not males? Makes no sense.

  • male reporters also should be allowed to enter female locker rooms

  • This truly has to be the benchmark win for the feminist movement. Women
    have persuaded and manipulated lawmakers to embed into law their female
    empowered rights to strip men naked, and leave them powerless to say, “this is
    my body and only I can choose who sees me naked”. What a blatant invasion of
    basic human rights to privacy, respect, and dignity. This really expands the breadth,
    width, and scope of the definition of moral bankruptcy. I feel so sorry for professional male
    athletes, the women’s movement have turned them into nothing more than “modern day

    We should all be in favor of fair employment rights with the understanding that in a moral
    and ethically correct society those rights stop abruptly and absolutely at naked genitalia.
    In the most elementary of interpretations this is the right thing to do. Why ever add any
    complexity to this issue that would create a horrific and inappropriate double standard
    that excludes males from their rights to decency and modesty. To me the solution is
    obvious, after the competitive event let the athletes cool down, shower and change
    in privacy and then report to a designated interview room.

    This is just a shameful issue that should not have ever have been allowed to surface.
    I really need to call this for what it is, “a bold face declaration of war on male rights”.

    • Couldn’t have said it better. Why should women get rights and men don’t. Why should we respect a gender that has not the slightest shred of basic respect for our bodily privacy.

      Then WOMEN claim sexism…!

  • The coaches are slim. The athletes deserve privacy and able to unwind without any reporters in the locker room.

  • Thomas Bowater
    July 24, 2023 11:11 am

    I’m writing from across the pond in England and this is so gross it’s unbelievable – in fact bordering on sleazy if not totally indecent. Apparently, in 1975 a female sports reporter took her case to court stating that she was being discriminated against in not being able to do her job in the same way that male reporters were.. The FEMALE judge agreed and from then on, women slowly infiltrated the holy of holies for all male athletes i.e. the locker room (we call it the changing room). Allegedly, she said that she wasn’t bothered if she saw the odd naked player, it was no big deal. Why did she think it was all about how SHE felt ? In fact, it was how the players felt about the situation, NOT her. They were dead against it but it seems the club owners said – “just get on with it.”

    What I can’t understand is why the players didn’t take their own action by saying:- “court ruling or no court ruling, we ain’t playing if women our allowed into our locker rooms.” Did they have no back bone to stand up to this ridiculous feminism which seems to denigrate men just because they are men ? Now reverse the roles and imagine if a male reporter had gone to court and a MALE judge had ruled that he could enter female locker rooms while women were changing and showering. There would be national outrage and no one would let male reporters anywhere near female locker rooms.

    I suppose it’s only in America where reporters, cameras, etc, mob players for quotes and comments as soon as they step off the pitch into the locker room. It just doesn’t happen in other countries, and the idea of letting females into male changing areas just wouldn’t be tolerated, period. And how do the wives, girlfriends and children of the players feel about it ? There’s also a hypocritical double standard going on re unisex bathrooms and changing areas. Recently, a really good female swimmer who isn’t far off Olympic standard, took part in a competitive tournament. As she and the other females were changing into their costumes, they turned around to be faced with a 6′ 5″ biological born man who identified as a woman. Because of the hormone treatment she (he?) was taking, she had breasts. But unfortunatelty, they were then confronted with the full frontal sight of her male genitals. Disgusted, they complained to their governing body who said much the same as the football club owners i.e. “just get on with it.”

    She went before a Senate committee who sided with her and expressed their digust that this had happened. Double standards anyone ? But all of this could have been quite easily avoided if the system of interviewing female players had been adopted. After stepping into the locker room, reporters et al are given about 30 minutes to ask questions. Everyone leaves to allow the female players to shower and dress. They all then come into another area where further questions and interviews can continue – simple.

    Then there are comments from some female reporters saying that: “we always behave in a professional manner.” Oh yeah ? 1) One female once wrote that a very famous football player was coming out of the shower and because he had his towel over his head drying his hair, he didn’t realise that he was naked and in direct line to where she was standing. She wrote words to the effect of: “wow, I cricked my head back at the site of him so hard that I thought I would have to visit a chiropractor !” 2) A retired female sports writer was recalling her days in locker rooms to three other women on a programme called TV Table Talk. She wasn’t at all professional, making comments that she had seen more naked men than a prostitute, and other crude remarks. She went on to say that one player would walk around nude and he was so well blessed that even the male reporters jaws dropped open. 3) A small 5′ reporter said there was such a massive scrum around one player that she had to burrow underneath them all to get close to ask questions. She ended up on the floor such that her head was in direct line of his naked crotch because his tiny towel hardly covered him. “I smiled at him,” she said, “but he didn’t seem to mind that I was looking, because he was so professional.”

    Quite frankly, all of this is seen by other countries as, well………….only in America. You seem have strange standards of decency, that’s all I can say.


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