You don’t have to look too far for an athletes behaving badly story. After all, this is the day the Francisco Rodriguez text messages hit the internet. For all the scandals, examples of poor morals and decision-making, it had been a while since we went down the route of a female reporter in the locker room. Of course at one time the women weren’t allowed inside locker room at all. Then I imagine once that barrier was broken, the women had to deal with incidents that lacked professionalism on an almost constant basis. I want to say that the tide eventually turned, possibly sometime after the famous Mark Gastineau comment, but the “incident” involving Ines Sainz and the Jets shows us that either the Jets forgot this was 2010 for a moment, or we really have made no progress at all. Here’s an article from 1985. Change the dates, and the theme is the same.
The details of Sainz’s visit to the Jets facility are a little vague. We know she arrived during a work-out, immediately creating quite the distraction. Apparently Jets players started looking for excuses to go anywhere near Sainz, and even the rotund coach himself, Rex Ryan, got in on the act. I guess the real issue is what happened when Sainz entered the locker room. A reporter for the Spanish-speaking TV Azteca, Sainz was there to do an interview with Mark Sanchez. The behavior in the locker room was limited to comments, catcalls, things of that nature. Apparently another female reporter on the scene approached Sainz to ask if she was ok. For her part Sainz said she felt a uncomfortable, but isn’t sure that she was necessarily harassed. She’s not really the one blowing the whistle on the Jets here.
The NFL and the Jets are both looking into the incident, and Sainz has become somewhat of a household name (or at least face), but the most disturbing piece of the story is those who claim Sainz essentially got what she deserved. There is a feeling out there she isn’t a real reporter, her appearance is her only asset, she was dressed in an unprofessional manner…this is what the athlete apologists are saying. I don’t know what Sainz was wearing, but as long as she was dressed in something, I can’t imagine it was any more unprofessional than what most male reporters wear on a daily basis. Have we seen these characters?
The whole notion of Sainz getting what she asked for, or being out-of-place in the “Jets’ locker room,” is a troubling one. I wonder if it is not a coincidence that this happened in New York. If anyone watched Hard Knocks, it’s not exactly a progressive culture they are promoting up there. I don’t want to come across like Tony Dungee, and I enjoy salty language and crudeness as much as the next person, but there’s a time for it. I’d also like to think if I was running a team that my players would understand there are consequences to their behavior in the locker room when the media is around. What made them think this was ok?
The worst news for the NFL is that the most offensive reaction to the incident probably came from one its own players. Clinton Portis, who can produce an interesting quote, offered the following:
And I mean, you put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her. You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she’s gonna want somebody. I don’t know what kind of woman won’t, if you get to go and look at 53 men’s packages. And you’re just sitting here, saying ‘Oh, none of this is attractive to me.’ I know you’re doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I’m gonna cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I’m sure they do the same thing.
Oh, my. So, the point here isn’t really what happened to Sainz (I’m sure women crossing the street experience worse on a daily basis), but it’s interesting to highlight that many, many players probably still feel that women have no place in the locker room. And while the incident that happened in New York is not common, it’s a clear expression of what is on a lot of player’s minds when someone like Sainz enters a locker room. This time it was simply voiced, and that sets off the chain reaction debate that we should have settled decades ago.