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Sports Coverage Needs Level Playing Field

October 21, 1990

Ribaldry, vulgarity or even obscenity in the locker room? Horrors! Nudity, also? Shocking. How long have these shameful things been going on?

Recently two columns, one in Sports and one in View, have asked some pertinent questions on who should be in the locker room. Mike Downey and Betty Cuniberti suggest that perhaps only team personnel should be admitted. That sounds good. Athletes come into the locker room after a game tired, sweaty and dirty. They want a shower and a change of clothing, and they want it without a delay for inane questions.

How many insightful questions are asked? How many enlightening answers given? "Why did you throw that pitch that Canseco hit out of the park?" "It was a tough fight, ma, but I won." Most of the athletes perform better on the field than they do in interviews. Also, closing locker rooms might spare us the spectacle of overgrown boys spraying champagne over everyone, a ritual followed more for television than as a spontaneous reaction.

I would challenge some of Cuniberti's generalizations. When can you make an accurate statement that all men are this way or all women are that way?

Let me ask her, "If women are not interested in looking at male bodies, why are clubs such as Chippendale's successful? Why are male strippers in demand for some all-female entertainment? Do all males go to places where food and/or drink are served by women with exposed breasts? Do you think all males are titillated and all women bored by exposure to the opposite sex?"

Overall, cheers to Cuniberti for focusing on the real problem: If locker rooms are to be open, let them be open to all reporters doing their jobs. And let's have a cessation of people accusing the females of prurient curiosity when simply carrying out their jobs. But please don't make a federal case out of locker room actions and comments.



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