Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 24, 1997

Women in the locker room

As America's obsession with sports grows so does the demand for stories, all kinds of stories about the athletes we have come to worship.

Beyond the final score and statistics, the public is hungry for the human element that doesn't come through in the numbers or the post-game press conference. Readers want the story of players interacting after the game - the tears, the celebrations, the emotions outside of competition. Often times, that story comes from the locker room, creating an understandable dilemma for female reporters covering male sporting events.

For years, the thought of a woman in a men's locker room was unthinkable. But times have changed, and women with the bravado to enter the locker room now have just as much access to athletes as men.

Uncomfortable experiences for athletes and journalists have accompanied that change though, so the debate rages on. Should female reporters have access to men's locker rooms?

Last week, a Tucson woman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Charles Barkley for exposing himself in the locker room after a game at McKale Center.

Elizabeth Anderson, a producer at a Christian TV station, said Barkley dropped his towel during a locker room interview and began wiping his private parts in front of her.

Barkley's reputation for brutish behavior precedes him, but toweling off in the locker room after a game does not merit such a complaint.

Whatmore, Anderson's presence in the locker room under the guise of reporter is questionable. She reportedly asked Barkley to donate a car to her church. Hardly a common journalistic practice. Anyone entering a locker room - male or female - should expect to encounter some degree of nudity.

Standing with a notepad in front of a naked athlete is an uncomfortable experience for a male reporter, more so for a female. But excessive complaints like Anderson's make it even more difficult for real female reporters to do their jobs, and discredit legitimate concerns about locker room behavior.

The threat of a frivolous lawsuit will cause teams to be more reluctant to grant media access to their locker rooms.

Female journalists have worked hard to establish themselves in the male dominated field of sports reporting. Hopefully players, and their teams, can ferret out the charlatans and continue to support the female journalists who deserve their respect.


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