THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Good taste: Players and writers all need it
When TV Azteca sports reporter Ines Sainz tweeted from the New York Jets locker room a couple of weeks ago, her comments set off a firestorm.
Tweets that she was "dying of embarrassment" and that she felt uncomfortable with inappropriate player comments led to an investigation by the NFL, a complaint by the Association for Women in Sports Media, and a vehement battle between feminists and sexists, a battle many thought was long ago over and done.
In case you didn't know, I'm a woman– and a lucky one. Aside from not being allowed to play Little League football when I was 10 (it still grates on me), my feminine experience has been pretty typical: being called "sweetheart" and fighting off inappropriate hugs, rebuffing propositions at red lights, and ignoring catcalls outside the grocery store.
It's been only in the past few years that uglier sexism has reared its head: my husband's friends joking about his giving me an "allowance," Lowes employees asking if I need a man to install a ceiling fan, and being turned down by sports editors because "men won't read a female sports columnist, no matter how good she is."
I'm sure you think you know where I would be in the Ines Sainz debate. But you might be wrong.
As a female sports columnist, I have the right to go anywhere male sports columnists go, even into NFL locker rooms. Where Rick Reilly goes, I can follow. The converse is also true: male sports reporters and columnists are allowed in women's locker rooms. It is an attempt at equity that has many people, mostly men, up in arms.
To Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and those like him who "don't think women should be in the locker room" because "the locker room is the place where us guys, us football players, we dress, we shower, we're naked," I'd like to say: get real.
It's not as if reporters can roam when and where they want. Representatives of the media have access to locker rooms at designated times, and they don't sneak in: their arrival is announced before the doors are opened. So put some pants on, and quit bellyaching.
Besides, Lance Briggs, this is not about you and your nakedness; this in about Ines Sainz and whether she and her tight jeans and see-through shirt deserved what she got. It's tempting to go down that road, to say anyone who dresses like that is asking for sexual attention, and boys will be boys, etc.
If that was your first thought when you heard the story, you're not alone– but you're wrong.
Whether it's pouring salt on slugs or accosting women, the "boys will be boys" argument has long been a convenient excuse for unacceptable behavior. NFL players aren't boys; they're men (albeit some with gun and stripper problems).
They're professional athletes who, in order not to be benched or suspended, have to exhibit self-control every time they take the field, and it's not just about refraining from clothes-lining each other.
If Clinton Portis, the Redskins running back who defended the Jets and attacked Sainz by saying, "You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she's going to want somebody"– if he or any player harassed an NFL cheerleader, he would be suspended immediately and in major trouble with his organization. Need I remind you that NFL cheerleaders wear a lot less than Ines Sainz?
It's disgusting that people still question whether women are fit to be sports reporters, and it's sickening that a lot of people think the answer is no.
Good taste and common sense forbid my writing what I wish those people to read, but that brings me to my final point: since the courts have answered the questions of female equality and what constitutes sexual harassment, what's really at issue here is good taste and common sense– specifically that neither Sainz nor the Jets possess either. In a situation like this, a couple of player suspensions, a consultation with Tim Gunn, and a visit from Miss Manners are likely to do more good than anything else.
Juanita Giles lives in Keysville with her husband where she raises dogs and children.