In the wake of Saturday’s it’s-too-bad-Hard-Knocks-ended-last-week incident in the Jets’ locker room and comments from players like Redskins running back Clinton Portis and Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, the NFL has reminded all teams of league policy regarding equal access and conduct.
“Women are a common part of the sports media,” the memo said, per Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. “By law, women must be granted the same rights to
perform their jobs as men. Please remember that women reporters are
professionals and should be treated as such.”
Aiello also told Wilner that Portis’ comments from Tuesday were “clearly inappropriate, offensive, and have no place in the NFL.”
In a Tuesday posting on the Association of Women in Sports Media’s website, Amy Moritz confirmed that “equal access to the locker room is supported by law, and several court cases support this dating back to 1977.”
Moritz points to a lawsuit filed by Time, Inc. after former baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn denied locker-room access to Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated. A federal judge ruled that male and female reporters should have equal access to the locker room.
In the NFL, both the Buccaneers and the 49ers have faced legal action (for the Bucs it was only threatened, not filed) to ensure that the locker room would be open to female reporters.
So to all of you who have suggested that the easy answer to the Ines Sainz situation would be to ban females from locker rooms, the law prohibits this.
Still, NFL teams should expect male and female reporters to behave as “professionals,” and access should be denied to specific persons and/or organizations who fail to adhere to the standards respected by the vast majority of reporters. At the root of the not-so-subtle (and inappropriate) suggestion that Ines Sainz “asked for it” is the more valid question of whether she truly was operating as a professional reporter, or whether she was merely hoping to create a stir. If it was the latter, she never should have been there.