ROB GLOSTER, (UPI) – Sept. 8, 1985 – Sportswriter Donna Balancia had two team officials block her from the New York Giants’ locker room after a recent preseason game. Jenny Kellner has been propositioned by players who flaunted their naked bodies for her.
Dozens of other female sports reporters have been denied access to NFL locker rooms, even while their male counterparts were interviewing players and meeting tight deadlines.
As the pro football season begins, NFL officials are promising to crack down on teams that bar women from locker rooms but admit they are having difficulty enforcing league rules that mandate equal access.
Years after women first drew gasps by walking into the maze of nude bodies and sweaty jockstraps in locker rooms, female sportswriters still are fighting for the right to do their job–conducting postgame interviews of key players and coaches.
Many women sports reporters say it is frustrating to face the same problem year after year.
“I think it’s so stupid I can’t believe it,” says Kathy Blumenstock of USA Today, who has a decade of experience covering pro football. “I hope that in my lifetime this is resolved, and the older I get the slimmer the chances seem to be getting.”
“I can’t get over the fact that it’s 1985 and we’re still talking about women in the locker room,” says Christine Brennan, who this fall becomes the first woman ever to cover the Redskins’ beat for the Washington Post.
The NFL’s policy book was revised this spring to clearly state that “locker rooms should be open” and commissioner Pete Rozelle has warned teams could be fined if NFL rules are not followed.
But league spokesman Dick Maxwell says officials are having trouble with teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, who keep their locker rooms closed and provide an outside interview room.
“The new policy states if you have an interview room that’s fine but the locker rooms still should be open,” Maxwell said.
For women sports reporters–who have the same deadlines and needs for timely quotes as their male competitors–a visit to the locker room of an NFL club still can lead to abuse and embarrassment.
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