Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's a Female Sports Journalist To Do?

WHEN INES SAINZ, a reporter from Mexico's TV Azteca, walked into the Jets locker room on Sunday, she was greeted with catcalls and hoots from the players.

Locker rooms are awkward places for interviews in general - journalists need information as quickly as possible after games and practices, so the athletes often have cameras thrust in their faces immediately after they get out of the shower. Sometimes, the players are draped in towels. Sometimes they are buck naked.

On top of that, there is often a high-testosterone, macho mentality among world-class athletes who are celebrated multi-millionaires. And the locker room is their territory.

It can be an especially difficult environment for female sports reporters. If that female sports reporter is attractive, it can be worse - as was the case with Sainz, a former Miss Spain.

FYI: Women were actually banned from most men's professional locker rooms until 1977. Some bans remained in place until 1985. Male reporters are not banned from WNBA locker rooms (and never have been - the league was created after the gender issue in sports was a major problem).

The incident with Sainz has generated fierce reactions - from people saying that the high-testosterone behavior is the norm in a locker room and that Sainz brought on the issue herself, to people saying that her gender should not be an issue, ever.

What should we learn from this incident? What is the lesson for female sports reporters (or aspiring female sports reporters)?

34 comments:

Kelly Offner said...

First, I think that although the macho complex and testosterone levels may be in heavy supply among a rowdy group of athlete millionaires who just played an adrenaline-charged game, it doesn't excuse unprofessional behavior...it may be their locker room, but they're still representing the franchise name sewn across their uniforms (and painted all over their "territory").
Second, I think the situation depends heavily on Sainz reaction to the catcalls and also on what her intentions were for being in the locker room. If she went seeking legitimate information and post-game reports, then she should be given the respect any other reporter would in the situation.
Side note-If the players were using the heads on their SHOULDERS, they would have realized that a hot reporter=more (male)viewers=greater publicity and fame...a no brainer?
To the point,I think that the issue of gender (esp. in sports news) is what the woman makes of it. Personally, I would advise to use any negativity pushed my way as fuel to work harder and longer in all aspects of my journalism career.
As for the locker-room environment for the attractive female journalist: smile at any catcalls aimed your way and then quickly turn around to a player in the literal opposite (non-jeering) direction and give him the mention in your article instead

Erik Lexie said...

I think female players should start doing cat calls when attractive male reporters come into their locker rooms. That would even things out fine.

Jon Ristaino said...

She went into a guys locker room, I hate to say it but it's here fault. If a guy goes into a women's locker room I would expect nothing less.

Haley Kmetz said...

It is rediculous to say that it is her fault. Women have made great strides over the years to equalize their opportunity with men in the professional world. The female reporter was only trying to do her job. The testosterone filled millionaire athletes were acting immature and should be embarrassed of their crude behavior. The reporter should not be at a disadvantage to men because she is made to feel unwelcome in a locker room due to her gender.

alexandra bristow said...

I say, you want the story, this is what you have to do. She can't be offended. And in the society of today, these remarks from the teammates may be frownded upon and seen as immature and exremely uncalled for behavior, but saying these things won't put an end to it. Its part of the job. Shes an attractive reporter and faces risks such as these. I am not saying in any ways is this behavior okay, but as a journalist you have to have a strong head on your shoulders and know that its just the nature of the competition.

Kelly Offner said...

To add on since hearing the Jets QB response to the incident-he couldn't understand how she wasn't attracted to any of the guys in the locker room...though he later apologized-I think these players should just get a grip and keep it in their pants...and also come to terms with the fact that they won't get women by using the same "tactics" as they did when they were thirteen.

Alexis Wright-Whitley said...

First of all, I believe that Sainz desires that type of attention. She dresses a certain way pretty much all the time, and it just yells out, "I want attention!!" I do however think that sports players should learn to have some more respect, but they're men. I would almost always expect them to speak the way they spoke about her, especially if she dresses in a way that seeks some type of attention.

Geo said...

So, women should consider the way their appearance will impact a situation? Maybe dress a little frumpy, maybe not wear so much (or any) make-up? Try to hide their beauty so that the football players don't get overheated?

- George
(the teacher who hates mob mentality)

Jonathan Ristaino said...

Lets be aware here people that is not a "professional" setting. It is a locker room, where people are changing. So why should she be treated professionally? Especially when she is trying to interview men who are changing/getting out of the shower. I can not believe this is even a news story.

Mark Longacre said...

I think the reporter needs to know what they're getting themselves in to. If she is okay with being cat-called, she can get the story. If she can't handle that, she can't get the story. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Janita Styles said...

Regardlesss of whether or not the locker room is considered the "player's domain" They are still representing their organization. There needs to be some type of accountability. Thrust a camera in their face while they are making the catcalls and then post that on the news... NFL fines will be flying left and right! Not acceptable and she shouldn't have to deal with that at this level. I am a future sports reporter and I will slap some heads if they can't keep it together! ;-) 5'3 but 7 years of Taekwondo.... I ain't playing LOL

Jonathan Ristaino said...

My question is fines for what? She chose to be there, its not a public area.

Kadidja said...

Miss Sainz should of known the type of job she was getting into if she choose to go into the players locker room it's no one's fault but hers. What else is there to say we all know how men are and the their behavor when they are around other man. So if she is a serious sport journalist and wants to go as far as going into the mens locker room where they could be "buck naked" thats her choice and she shouldnt have a complaint if shes greated with "catcalls either.
Kadidja Nanakasse

doc_brown said...

Pardon the idealism, but while part of me knows how a room full of elite athletes might act around a reasonably attractive woman, the other part of me expects that a room full of grown men, more than a few of whom probably have wives and children(I know Antonio Cromartie has a few kids, even if he can't keep track of them), should act the part. Eyes only, fellas.

Janita Styles said...

@ Jonathan....

Fines for acting unprofessional and harassing a reporter. If we can find them for shooting themselves (Plaxico Buress) Then we can hold them accountable for not acting professional in the locker room around the media.

Lauren Petrie said...

I think that any women sports writers should know what to expect when walking into a rowdy mens football team locker room. Although I believe it's the job of the football players to respect any women that enter the locker room, it's also the job of the woman to know how to handle that situation. It's the job of both the athletes and the journalists to compose themselves in professional ways. I think that in terms of this specific situation it's wrong of the football players to make the "catcalls" and "hoots" but it's also the job of Sainz to be able to handle that situation. She's getting paid for it, after all, she should be able to handle that sort of situation. It would be different if the football players had actually approached her with those sort of acts. In that kind of situation I think there should be consequences.

Tracy L. Kirkendall said...

Hmmm...breakdown on the basics.
1. she's a woman
2. they're football players
3. they're men
4. her outfit
CONCLUSION: DUH!!!!

If she expected to be treated as a professional reporter, then she should've have dressed the part. Yes, granted she's a sports reporter and some sort of business suit isn't necessarily best. BUT come on, tight tiny-tee and look-at-my-butt jeans. Not exactly what I would deem appropriate. So yes, at first glance she looked the part of a football hottie junkie. I don't think these guys did anything wrong, and this is coming from a woman.

If people really think that she had no intention of causing some sort of controversy dressed like that, you'd be dead wrong. As always, controversy sells. END of story.

Shame on her!

Kelly Offner said...

For the record, I made a mistake in saying it was the QB that didn't understand how Sainz wasn't attracted to the players, it was RB Portis from the Redskins.
But in defense of Sainz (I'm not trying to sound like a feminist activist here), although her short black dress and stilettos were definitely NOT the type of outfit you should wear to anything work related, her choice in clothing does not necessarily imply she was "asking for it", it just seems she is comfortable (though maybe at the wrong place wrong time) with her body/sexuality...both parties made a bad judgment here

Amber Curtis said...

It's difficult wanting to be a sports journalist as a girl since there is a stereotypical sense built up, but women such as myself cannot help their passion for sports. A girl has to get down to every story and if that means stepping into the locker room, so be it.You have to get the story and that's what she was doing. She cannot be blamed since a man would do that if he had. You have to get the story, but remember you have to feel comfortable about it. If she didn't want to step in, then she has to draw the line. But she got in there and did her there job so she had to ready for anything that was going to happen next.

Breland M. Moore said...

Actually, I was in a similar situation last year. My senior year of high school, I interned as the female broadcaster at a local minor league hockey team. However, I was never permitted directly into the locker room. A security guard would ask me who I wanted to interview, and the player would be taken from the locker room and brought out into the hallway...or I would simply grab him when he came directly off the ice. I think if sports teams don't want women in their locker rooms, they should allow other options like the one provided to me that allows female sports reporters to do their job without interfering with the players' privacy. As for her style of dress, I think she was perfectly acceptable. Trust me. If I didnt dress cute for every interview I did, I doubt that the guys would've been so cooperative. Its hard for men to take women seriously in sports, and looking good helps reel the player in and make him want to help a pretty girl out. Athletes tend to make a joke out of people they don't respect, find attractive, or who they believe are not qualified to do the job (i.e. women). Her style of dress helps her get the interview and attract the male viewer, so kudos to her for being smart and dressing for the job.

Samantha Kordelski said...

As a woman who wants to pursue a career in sports journalism, I find what these boys (because if they were grown men they would have been respectable and professional) did deplorable. To place all the blame on the woman in the situation, no matter if she was attractive or not, is completely ridiculous. So, she is attractive. And yes, she was wearing alluring clothing. Are you to tell me that she (and consequently myself as well) should be ashamed to show her finer features? Television capitalizes on good looks constantly. Why is this woman any different? Those players should have had the same respect as they would have for a male reporter or any other woman outside of the locker room. As a result of the players poor behavior people want to ban women from the locker rooms. They should do no such thing, because, frankly, it would be discriminating and falling into the hole of immaturity. If the woman was mature enough to go into the locker room and handle herself professionally, then the men who she interviewed should have also been able to do the same thing. It is what they are paid for, is it not? To be professional? Perhaps those million dollar contracts state they can all be asses and disrespectful.

Sinead C said...

I think the behavior of the men was immature and unprofessional. The journalist was just doing her job and the factor that she is an attractive woman should not hinder her from doing it. However, she made the mistake of not dressing appropriately for work so perhaps the players did not take her as seriously as they would have if she had been dressed more professionally. Then of course is the always underlying factor that most men don't take women seriously in sports.

Elizabeth Van Son said...

The way the men acted was in their character. I mean, men have always been like that, ESPECIALLY athletes. I wouldn't say that Sainz brought the issue upon herself because she didn't walk into the room thinking okay everyone is going to act cordially. No. You're in a locker room. Obviously some rowdy behavior is going to happen. I don't think that it was appropriate but it's inevitable and I think that Sainz handled herself fine. If you're going to be a female reporter then you have to expect the worst. Just like if you were a male reporter. You're always going to need to expect the worst no matter what gender you are.

Ruth K said...

Dude, it's freaking locker room. If I, as a woman, were going to go into man's territory, the locker room, where they naturally make all sorts of crude jokes and stare at each others parts (they do, don't they?), I would be careful about how I carried myself and how I dressed. Now, obviously, this reporter dresses unusually provocatively. She shows a lot of cleavage in her interviews and she seems to always wear skin-tight clothing. She has a lot of curves, and she makes sure they show, because she wants to feel attractive. You could excuse her style based on the fact that she is from Spain, but I think that she needs to be a little more aware of what men can't help but think when they see her. I also think she should be more aware of how different our culture may be here.

Reporter: Look at those jeans. Could they get any tighter?

Sainz: It's my size, it's not my fault. It fits perfect, I don't think it's bad.

On another note, I think men should always try to control themselves around women. No matter how she is dressed or how she carries herself, they should show some respect. What these guys did was crude and immature.

So honestly I think that the guys were obviously more in the wrong, but female sports reporters should be more cautious.

Jeff Ragone said...

I don't think we learned anything from the Sainz incident. She was always a call for attention. The picture taken above is her at the Super Bowl media day measuring a player's bicep. Another picture taken that day, which is in the below URL, is of her sitting on two player's shoulders. If you look her up on google you find pictures of her in bikinis modeling. She's constantly wearing revealing clothing as well. Modeling, flirting with players, and skimpy clothing proves she's not a serious journalist. Its only natural for a character like her to gain attention from 50 NFL players in their 20s/early 30s. Ashley Fox of the Inquirer said it best: "If you want to be treated like a girl at a bar, dress like a girl at a bar. If you want to be treated professionally and without incident, cover up."

Kelly Offner said...

thought this was interesting and related, Sainz upset by Female News writers organization responding in Sainz defense to Jets incident

http://www.fanhouse.com/2010/09/23/ines-sainz-fires-back-at-female-sportswriters-organization/?icid=main|main|dl1|sec1_lnk3|172555

Nicole Riley said...

Enter at your own risk. She chose the job... I could see her complaining if they touched her, but they didn't. If she wants to enter a male locker room dressed unprofessionally, then that's on her. She shouldn't complain about it. The lesson is dress professionally when you are at work. If she were covered up than it would have been the guys' faults. If woman want to be taken seriously, they need to cover up. You don't see a man showing off his abs while reporting.

& if you say "Sex sells" - get used to the consequences

Candice Monhollan said...

I'm one of those aspiring female sports reporters and I know the risks involved with becoming one. I understand where some women are coming from, claiming harassment, but she also didn't try to avoid the incident by the way she dresses or the pictures of her posing in bikinis and such on the internet. I am good friends with one of the female Flyers' reporters and I never see her wear the sort of things Sainz had on and she never has any problems with the players. I'm not saying that we have to completely cover everything, but there is a way to look nice AND professional without having to show off your body and basically invite that kind of treatment.

Jonathan said...

Should she have expected the catcalls? Probably. Should the players have made them? Absolutely not.

To beat the dead horse, yes, the players represent the team and, by extension, the league when they speak to reporters. They should have the self-control to act professionally around the reporters.

That said, reiterating another point, she did not conduct herself as a serious reporter, either in dress or in action (I've seen several of her reports and usually end it with "What was she thinking? was she thinking at all?").

In short, both parties are at fault. The players for doing a crappy job of representing the team, and Ms. Sainz for not acting as professionally as her position demands (compare her to Jaime Apody from 6ABC for instance).

Shannon H. said...

OK this is a topic very close to my heart due to the fact that my aspiring goal is to be a GM for an NBA team one day and I know the hardships women have in the industry already. I have been a manager for the Temple Men's Basketball team and I know what the locker room environment is like for a young woman. My philosophy is if you don't want to be hit on, you don't want to hear about men talking about women in derogatory manner than pick a different field. Now don't get me wrong in no way shape or form am I condoning the behavior of these athletes because I know on a first hand basis that the things that can come out of their mouths is offensive to say the least, however I'm said to say it comes with the territory. One of the main reasons you don't see a lot of women reporters, GMs and Presidents of professional male athletic organizations is for the reason they don't think we can handle it. They feel that cases like this would be more frequent if the sport was dominated by women. We are the minority so in order to succeed we have to "roll with the punches."

Tony Cassero said...

If a female reporter is going to enter a locker room she deserves to be treated the same as a male reporter and not get hit on. However, it is also her responsibility to not dress very sexual. The reporter in question was wearing some very tight pants from what i heard. If the reporter would like a professional attitude from the male athletes then shouldn't she dress in a professional manor.

Kate Trowbridge said...

I realize that there is a "macho mentality" that comes along with being an athlete, especially in their locker rooms, but it all comes down to the fact that this is their job, and female reporters are one aspect of their job. If a man who worked at walmart made inappropriate remarks to a woman while he was at work, I would almost guarantee the fact that he would be suspended or worse - terminated. It shouldn't matter the gender of the sports reporter, it all comes down to the fact that you are at your job and you should be acting profesionally, no matter what the circumstance.

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onlymuttix said...

One question: Is this pic her, measuring a man's bicep? Because honestly, treat them like a piece of meat and they'll treat you like a piece of a$$, honey.