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Home » News and Features » Player's Perspective: Should women be allowed in locker rooms?

Player's Perspective: Should women be allowed in locker rooms?

By: The Football Girl | Posted: October 18, 2010

Note: Clint Oldenburg is the author of his piece and will be getting his own name tag stamp in the coming days. And, as he mentions in the conclusion, he'd love to get your thoughts on the issue.


Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about the place of women sports reporters in the locker rooms of NFL teams.  Should women be allowed in a male locker room?  Should the NFL have a policy directly addressing this?  Should women even be involved in male sports at all? It’s a valid discussion in all forums and its one that NFL players are having amongst ourselves, too. I can't speak for everybody in the league, but I have my own opinions on the matter.

I think a woman has as much a right to make a living as a sports reporter as a man.  If she is qualified and does her job like expected, she should have the same privileges in getting interviews as a male reporter.  In many instances, the locker room is the only place where some reporters can get any face time with the players they cover.  However, there should be some rules, or at least some guidelines that should be followed by any professional, regardless of gender.

#1) The wardrobe should match the job.  If you work in a restaurant, it’s not illegal to wear a bathing suit to work, but I'm sure you'd be fired if you did.  If you work in construction, I doubt you'd want to wear a white dress to work.  So, if you're a sports reporter, I think you should be dressed in business attire and look professional while on the job.  I'm not going out of my way to take shots at anybody in the media because I don't personally know of any woman or man who has not dressed in a professional manner, but it should just go without saying: in a professional environment, look professional.

#2) Ask good questions. In addition to the way a reporter looks, I also think the content and words with which they work do a lot to portray an image.  The questions asked, the stories written and the quality of the coverage are all considered when a player decides how serious he is going take a reporter.  If a media member, man or woman, wants to be respected as a serious member of the sports-journalist world, he or she should conduct themselves in a serious matter and ask serious questions.  If fluff inquiries with no relevance are the content of an interview, that reporter will be taken as a fluff reporter, offering no substance to the player-media relationship. 

Moving on the environment itself, the locker room, the debate gets even more polarizing.  For years, it’s been OK for women to enter the locker rooms of male athletes. What would the backlash be if male reporters were allowed into a female locker room?  I think we can all agree, it would be serious.  Why the double standard?  I honestly don't have an answer to that question.  It's just the world we live in today and there are varying opinions as to why.

I'm not in the position to judge the policies of NFL media coverage, but I am a football player and I know the locker room is a sacred place among all athletes.  Perhaps it should be off limits to everybody else and all interviews could be done in a different setting.   

However, since it’s been standard practice in the NFL to conduct interviews in locker rooms, I don't see the setting changing unless it absolutely has to.  I remember the first time back in college that I found myself in the locker room with female reporters present.  I have to admit, I was apprehensive for a moment.  I had nothing but a towel on and I didn't know whether I should hide or go about my business.  So I just looked around and did what my teammates were doing: I went about business as usual and got dressed.  I've never had a second thought about it again.

Players are accustomed to the whole procedure, believe it or not.  I can see how people on the outside would look at this with a lot of wonder, but it’s really not a big deal unless somebody turns it in to one.  If both parties present in the locker room - the media and the players - act in a professional manner, there should be no issues. Granted, that's a perfect world scenario, but it’s also a feasible expectation.  

There will always be exceptions that make everybody on both sides look bad.  If the problems increase, (which I don't foresee in the aftermath of the Ines Sainz situation), the league will probably make some rules on the matter.  But I believe most the women (and men for that matter) covering the NFL belong and do a really good job. Obviously when an incident takes place we will hear about it much more than when it doesn't, leading fans to believe that women in a male locker room is a much bigger issue than it really is.  As a player, all I can hope for is that these incidents don't have an overbearing negative effect on the NFL or those who cover it. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter as well.  I hope to see some comments posted by the readers on this issue to get a feel for what exactly the fans think.  




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Showing comments 1 to 5 of 6 | Next | Last
Posts: 3
Re 3: From Clint
Reply #6 on : Wed October 20, 2010, 20:59:02
I laughed a little bit when I read this last comment. I like the analogy there. The thing is we don't like to hangout naked. It's all about the timing of the media access to the locker room. They are allowed to be in there anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, and the time is always either right before practice, right after practice, or right after the game; all very high "traffic" times to and from the shower and in and out of uniforms. While it may take one guy just a minute or two to get dressed, its seems like a lot longer with 50 or 60 guys all using one or two minutes over a 20 minute-span. I hope that makes sense.
Cutler Apologist
Posts: 1
Re: Player's Perspective: Should women be allowed in locker rooms?
Reply #5 on : Wed October 20, 2010, 12:48:33
Great Article, Clint. I agree on all points. One question I have, though, is what is it about an NFL locker room where guys have no problem just hanging out naked? When I'm in the gym locker room, I change from my towel and into my clothes faster than Chris Johnson runs a 40.
Posts: 3
Re 2: From Clint
Reply #4 on : Wed October 20, 2010, 10:43:52
For dirtydawqesq: I highly doubt males are allowed in WNBA locker rooms, or any female locker rooms, before all of the women are fully clothed. I've never been in one to witness for myself obviously, but if it is practiced in the coverage of women's sports, why haven't we heard about it, especially now more than ever? In addition, I cannot speak on behalf of Clinton about his beliefs on this matter but I disagree with generalizing genders in such a simplistic manner. I'm sure there's plenty of men and women disinterested with all private parts and vice versa.
Posts: 3
Re: From Clint
Reply #3 on : Wed October 20, 2010, 10:33:14
Thanks for the comments. I love the feedback. I've never personally witnessed anything but professional conduct in every locker room I've ever been. I've heard stories, and who knows the validity of those, but I can only speak for myself and I agree with you, Sarah: the Inez Sainz situation is an isolated incident and is a very poor representation of the media's relationship with the NFL. I don't foresee this as being as much an issue as it seems to be right now.
Posts: 2
Re: Player's Perspective: Should women be allowed in locker rooms?
Reply #2 on : Tue October 19, 2010, 23:33:03
Good article, though I have a bone to pick with something I hear constantly in this debate, that there's a supposed "double standard" because men don't enter a women's locker room. First off, it could very well be that men enter a women's locker room after games, but nobody really notices because nobody watches/covers women's sports (I'm looking at you WNBA). Secondly, the fact is, despite the "53 packages" claim from Clinton Portis, women are way less interested in men's private parts than men are interested in women's
Showing comments 1 to 5 of 6 | Next | Last