The recent uproar over the treatment of female sports writers in locker rooms of athletic teams raises some serious questions about equal access, decency and the ability of women writers to do their job. Yet these issues can be solved in ways that protect everyone's rights and a basic sense of modesty.
Certainly, the lewd behavior of a New England Patriots football player toward a woman writer is indefensible. Strict action against the offender needs to be taken and an apology issued to the female reporter.Yet bringing women into a locker room full of men trying to shower and change has all kinds of potential for embarrassing situations - not just for the females, but for everyone else, including male reporters and the players.
Female sports writers need the same access to players for post-game interviews as their male counterparts. But why not arrange it in ways that still meet common standards of modesty for men and women alike?
Chaotic after-game locker rooms can be uncomfortable places for both men and women to conduct interviews. Some standards should be established that would make it easier on everybody.
Sam Wyche, head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals professional football team, may have hit upon a workable solution.
Wyche, who is known for being impulsive and tempestuous, has come up with the level-headed idea that allows male and female journalists equal access but not total access.
After Wyche came under fire for not letting a female reporter into the Bengal locker room last week, he ordered his players to remain dressed for 20 minutes after each game while they field questions from reporters. Journalists would then be excused while the players dress. Follow-up interviews could be scheduled for later.
The "Wyche solution" would keep access fair and would give beat reporters a chance to get the quotes they need and still make deadline.
It's a sane approach to an emotional issue.