Reportin’ in the boys room

Mike Crissman

A beautiful woman can make men do stupid things.

Such was the case this past week at a New York Jets football practice when players and coaches allegedly harassed reporter Ines Sainz of TV Azteca, a Mexican television network, on the field and in the locker room.

Sainz said Jets players and coaches were purposely overthrowing passes in her direction during the team practice. They were conducting drills in such a way that the players were “accidentally” bumping into her on the sidelines. In the locker room, while waiting to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez, the reporter was also subjected to whistles, catcalls and sexually suggestive comments.

In a room full of rowdy men who were changing clothes before and after showering, the uncomfortable Sainz tweeted that she was dying of embarrassment and “trying not to look anywhere.”

That’s awkward as heck but hardly surprising. Female reporters have been venturing into the forbidden garden known as the men’s locker room for around 30 years now. That’s a lot of male nudity to deal with — all in the name of journalism.

The once unimaginable practice of women going into a room full of rambunctious, scantily clad athletes for a few quotes has now become commonplace. However, that’s not to say that things are perfect. Boys will always be boys, even if they’re full-grown men.

The incident with Sainz and the New York Jets has garnered much attention in the media over the past week, mostly because of the Mexican reporter: The same journalist who always wears provocative clothing, has appeared in multiple magazine centerfolds wearing swimsuits and is the self-described “hottest reporter in Mexico.”

I don’t want to make excuses for the actions of some of the Jets’ football players, but wearing tight jeans and a low-cut shirt, as she did that day, doesn’t help the reporter’s situation. Why she feels the need to use her good looks to the extent she does as a professional crutch is a whole different story. But it’d be naïve to say she didn’t have it coming.

The root of the problem lies with the policy of allowing reporters of either gender into the locker room. Female reporters should not be allowed into men’s locker rooms for the same reason that male reporters are banned from female locker rooms. There shouldn’t be a double standard.

Locker rooms can be extremely volatile places. Emotions are always high. Players either feel really good or really bad, depending on the outcome of a game. Adding even a mildly attractive woman into the mix could spell trouble. Adding a woman like Ines Sainz into the mix did spell trouble. It’s bad for the reporters and, believe it or not, it’s bad for the players, too.

“It’s uncomfortable for me to have any media in the locker room,” Giants center Shaun O’Hara said of the contentious issue. “And I think it’s also (uncomfortable) for the women, too.”

There’s no quote or statement journalists can get in the locker rooms that they can’t get in the pressroom. If reporters like Sainz want to continue to dress provocatively, they have the right to do so. Just don’t be surprised if, once in a while, a few rogue athletes act on impulse and say something that makes a female journalist uncomfortable.

If something like that does happen (and it did), and people make a big deal out of it (and they have), then it’s high time we cut off female reporters’ access to male locker rooms.

Mike Crissman is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].