By: Kristina Beverly
As you may have already heard, there is some controversy involving the treatment of a Mexican news reporter, and former beauty queen, in the NFL New York Jets’ locker room. It brings to light a continuous struggle with issues regarding sex and power for women in the workplace—especially in the male dominated world of sports media.
The incident, which took place about a week ago, started on the Jets’ football field during a final preseason practice. It was reported that the players were throwing the footballs in the area where Ines Sainz, sports reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca, was standing so that they could go over to look at her.
It took a turn for the worst when Sainz went to the locker room to conduct her scheduled interview with Mark Sanchez—a third-generation Mexican-American. As she was in the locker room, players began whistling, yelling and making inappropriate comments. She finished her interview and later tweeted about how embarrassed she was.
Her male colleagues were so disturbed that they reported the incident and the Associates for Women in Sports Media filed a claim on her behalf.
Woody Johnson, the owner of the NY Jets, called and apologized to her for the actions of his players. And most recently, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, announced that although the events at the Jets’ practice should not have happened, no action will be taken against the players or the coaches. However, after an investigation into the incident, the NFL determined that there was a need for a training program for newcomers on how to interact with reporters.
The most disturbing thing of this whole ordeal is not that the players won’t face any punishment but that the news coverage surrounding this whole controversy is extremely one-sided. There is more focus on her attire and qualifications as a journalist, than the harassment that these players made. It makes the assumption that because of her appearance, she was “asking for it.”
Now the question of whether or not female reporters should even be allowed in the locker rooms is being made. If that is the case, then workplace equality has taken a huge step backwards. The issue is not with how tight Sainz’s jeans were but how the players acted and lack of accountability for their actions.
If there was any issue with the appropriateness of Sainz’s attire or her abilities as a reporter, then she would not have received the proper credentials. It is not the responsibility of the players to pass judgment on any reporter. All reporters deserve respect, regardless of gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion or wardrobe.