A few words on women in NFL locker rooms
With a large assist from Clinton Portis, this whole Ines Sainz thing has somehow morphed into a debate on allowing women into NFL locker rooms rather. Which, from the league’s standpoint, is no debate at all. Every reporter is treated equally, by this and every other league I know of. See the league’s reminder this week.
But I’m getting a ton of e-mails and comments suggesting that it’s a travesty for women to be inside a locker room with naked men, ever, no matter the circumstances. A lot of these e-mails and comments have significant inaccuracies, not to mention bonus electronic saliva. So, just for the heck of it, let me attempt to present a couple of facts. Please try to read these before offering up your outraged comments below.
Female reporters shouldn’t be allowed in NFL locker rooms unless male reporters are allowed in WNBA locker rooms!!!!
Uh, male reporters are allowed in WNBA locker rooms.
To repeat, MALE REPORTERS ARE ALLOWED IN WNBA LOCKER ROOMS. They’re there to, you know, do their jobs. Not to pick up dates or stare at women. To quote from Ann Killion:
The WNBA — the playoffs are going on right now — has the same rules as the NBA. Open locker rooms at designated times. In the NCAA tournament, the same rules govern both men and women’s locker rooms — they’re both open at specific times. During the regular season, NCAA institutions can make their own rules about locker room availability, but during the tournament the NCAA has a uniform policy. When Stanford played UConn in last April’s championship, if you wanted to see how devastated Jayne Appel was after her terrible shooting night, you needed to be in the locker room. I was there. So were my male colleagues.
So you can argue all you’d like about inviting reporters into locker rooms, but please don’t say there’s a double standard.
NOTE: Some of you point out that the women aren’t technically naked in these WNBA locker rooms. That’s besides the point. No one is forcing NFL players to disrobe in front of the media. The locker room is open, and they’re choosing to get naked.
Female reporters shouldn’t be allowed in NFL locker rooms unless male reporters are allowed in cheerleaders’ dressing quarters!!!!!
I’ve gotten a few of these, as well. Look, say what you want about NFL cheerleaders, but their auditions often include swimsuit modeling, they wear next to nothing on the field, and a lot of men find them extremely appealing in a sexual way.
Until you can say the same thing about Kory Lichtensteiger or Casey Rabach, I’d argue this just isn’t a valid comparison. I mean, unless you’re really into back hair.
Privacy!!!! Athletes need privacy!!!!! They don’t want to show their packages to the world!!!!!
After NFL games, there is a 10-minute cooling off period, during which the locker room is closed to the media. This period often lasts longer, sometimes significantly so. By the time we enter the room, some players — often including Chris Cooley, for example — are already showered and changed. There is also a private training room for players who’d like more privacy, plus the shower area.
Last Sunday, for example, Clinton Portis never appeared in the public areas of the Redskins’ locker room, as far as I could tell. No one saw his package. Not one reporter. His locker was already empty when we were allowed to enter. Unless Portis is speaking at the podium, he almost never appears in a public place after the game, naked or otherwise.
The Redskins also have a team rule this year that (broadcast) media members cannot talk to players until they have their shirts on. So reporters generally stay away from players unless they’re just about fully dressed. No one has enough time to waste standing around and waiting for someone to get dressed.
Also, some players choose to do all their interviews while still in their game uniforms, and then shower and change after the locker room empties. Andre Carter, for example, generally sits at his stall and does every single interview while still in football clothes, and only then goes to shower after the reporters are gone.
So if you’re a shy type and you don’t want to be seen naked, it’s very, very easy to avoid.
But NFL locker rooms are seething pits of molten-hot testosterone fountains, prowled by sex-starved He-Men!!!!! Sexualized encounters are inevitable!!!!!
If you’ve spent lots of time in NFL locker rooms and you’ve come to this conclusion, I guess I can’t dissuade you.
To me, NFL locker rooms are not hyper-sexualized dens of flirtation in which women stare at packages and men stare at curves and everyone’s just thinking about whom to bed. Post-game locker rooms are about sweaty and dirty jerseys, open wounds, back hair, man-boobs, the smell of soiled laundry, jostling reporters with microphones and tape recorders, platters of orange slices, Mike Wise asking what his column should be about and Sonny and Sam in their full suits hanging out with Larry Michael as they interview Mike Shanahan. These scenes are about as sexy as the 80-and-over South Florida Shuffleboard Championships.
I mean, on Sunday, I was interviewing Brian Orakpo when he suddenly got a cramp in his leg and gasped in pain. If he was thinking about sex just then, I’m Ines Sainz.
The mid-week open locker rooms at Redskins Park are a bit different, certainly jollier and filled with more wisecracks and towel snaps, but still, probably half of the guys have pictures of children or wives or Biblical quotes by their stalls, and you can’t take a step without landing on a crumpled-up hunk of foul athletic tape. I mean, I’m not sure what your idea of sexy is, but this really isn’t like being in a Vegas showroom.
But but but!!!!! Shouldn’t there be some boundaries!!!!!!
Look, I don’t know where you work, but imagine being there, and then imagine there were suddenly 300-pound naked men thrust into the picture. Would that make your life easier? Would the level of workplace arousal go up? Do you think reporters, whatever their gender, decided en masse that their lives would only be complete if they could do their jobs while in the presence of nakedness?
I’m pretty sure 99.7 percent of reporters would say “hell yes” if offered the chance to only interview fully dressed people. But more important than comfort is speed, especially after night games like last week’s. All our reporters had to file stories within 30 seconds of the final whistle, run down to the locker room, and then refile as quickly as possible to have any chance of getting post-game quotes into a few hundred thousand papers.
If teams told players to stay dressed until interviews were done, I’m sure we’d all be thrilled. But players have places to go, and they’re in a hurry, and we have deadlines, and we’re in a hurry, and so some of the players get shower and get changed while others of them talk to reporters. It’s not controversial, or strange, or sexualized, or prurient. It’s just life.
Now, say whatever you want about Ines Sainz, how she dresses, or how she behaves on-air. But if you want to make this into some larger debate about female reporters entering locker rooms, please at least understand these facts.