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For anyone who hasn't yet caught this story, Ines Sainz is a sports reporter from TV Azteca who is reporting that she was sexually harassed by Jets players when she went to conduct a locker-room interview of Mark Sanchez on Saturday.

Ines Sainz is an attractive woman trying to make it in a male-dominated field. She came to watch the Jets practice so that she could interview Mark Sanchez, who is of particular interest to the Mexican network for which she works. At the practice, she was noticed: the defensive backs coach targeted the area near her so his players would have a chance to jog over and say hi. And when she went into the locker room, she was verbally harassed.

You can imagine the response from the public to this fiasco, I'm sure. Clinton Portis made a public statement that she had to have been ogling the men, and that being in the locker room at all was a sign that she wanted attention, that it was the expected result. When he apologized, people started decrying the overly PC nature of the NFL. I don't know about you guys, but when I think of sports coverage in the US today, I don't think "overly PC". Anyone?

People are now saying that because Ines Sainz dresses provocatively or "unprofessionally", she had no right to respect and should have expected this result. They are saying, again, that women don't belong in the locker room (disregarding the fact that this right is supported by several key legal cases, and applies equally to male reporters in women's locker rooms), that she was asking for it.

Here is the fundamental fact of the TV news industry. Men don't need to be attractive to compete there. Women do. And women's attractiveness, to sports fans, is enhanced by low-cut tops. Is it unfortunate? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that Ines Sainz is trying to compete in a world where the deck in already stacked against her. And when she makes the decision to use what advantages she has, she's written off as unprofessional.

Let me tell you, if I were a sports reporter, I would not particularly relish the idea of going into the locker room, of being surrounded by half-naked men who are all enormously larger than I am and charged with the energy of a practice of a game. I would be AFRAID, and intensely uncomfortable. But I would do it anyway, because if you want to succeed in the world of sports reporting, you need to get those locker room interviews, and you need to show that you can do everything that the men can do. That's part of being a professional. And that's what Ines Sainz did.


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December 2014



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