Locker room confidential: Female reporters tackle big-league stereotypes
Stephanie Sutton had motivation to succeed because she saw a familiar face doing the same.
"The person I looked up to was Jessie Garcia over at (Channel) 4," said Sutton. "I graduated from college, didn't know what the heck I was going to do, and I didn't want to go into news. And I remember watching Jessie in Madison and thought she was awesome, and I was like, you know what, she's good at that job, I like that job."
In 1992, Garcia was the only female TV sportscaster in the state of Wisconsin. And even though Jessie knew she was about to swim in the deep end of the pool, she dove right in.
"I wasn't sure what the reaction would be," said Garcia. "For the most part I was treated like 'the rookie' and not 'the woman.' And I drew inspiration from my mom, who was a carpenter and an architect in the 1970s and early '80s when that was highly unusual for women. Plus, I was starting out in my hometown of Madison, where I knew a lot of people and had a lot of support."
"I've never been one to back down from a challenge," said Lada. "I have always chased my dreams."
Most of these journalists either played or had direct contact with a sport of some kind to help jump start their interest. Sutton captured the WIAA Girls State Doubles Championship in 1987 at Brookfield Central, teaming up with her sister, Heidi, to put the Jurczyk sisters in the state annals forever. De St. Aubin discovered it during a simpler time, growing up playing games like Hot Box, Lightning, Step-back, and PIG, with her dad, brother and his friends. .. never accepting any freebies or handouts ... wanting to play the game just like they did at the same level -- not at a "girl level," as she put it.
Some discovered their passion by exploring the nuances and intricacies of athletic competition.
"My love for sports didn't come until I was 12 or 13, and my step-father started taking me to Badger basketball games," said Garcia. "I also remember driving over to County Stadium to watch the Brewers, and I have a distinct memory of him explaining to me how the outfielders were shading to the left or right depending on their scouting reports for that particular hitter. I immediately fell in love with the emotion and passion that sports brought out in the community."
Garcia admitted she "was not and am not a natural athlete." But her appreciation of watching others do what she could not had her writing sports for the high school newspaper, and she's been hooked every since. Nickel followed that roadmap as well ... those that can't play the game write about it.
"I believe this to be true -- sports writers are failed jocks," said Nickel. "We're the ones who rode the bench, or never realized our sports dreams on the court or field. But we thought we knew more than the coach. And so I posed as a volleyball, basketball and softball player in high school and continue my second-guessing of coaches to this day."
There is also a general appreciation for this mode of recreation that many take seriously, even though it is just a game.
"I love that sports require strategy and strength and more importantly; the perfect combination of the two," said Lada. "They are unifying, engaging and conversation-starters. Even people who don't understand sports tend to appreciate them for the sacrifices they take and the demands they place on the human mind and body."
"I can't say I really love sports as much as I love people, and how sports is a great way to tell the stories of people's lives," said Roquemore. "Of course, there's the thrill of competition, seeing how people respond to adverse situations both on and off the playing field and how sports issues, from T.O.'s alleged suicide attempt to the steroids controversy, play out in real time. It's the people of sports that keep me going."
Those people of sports tend to be mostly male, and sometimes, the gender will offer to open up more to a female asking the questions. Advantage: women.
"I think it helps more than hinders because the athletes and coaches remember you," said Sutton. "There are so many guys, you all kind of blend in and at least, not necessarily by name they know me, but they can pick me out, so I think that helps, to be quite honest."
Nickel said she thinks it helps and hinders.
"I won't talk to an athlete in the locker room unless he's dressed, even as I see another male reporter get the athlete because he has no hesitation to talk to him. I lost that interview," said Nickel. "However, being a woman helps in that I am not threatening or confrontational in men's eyes, so they tend to open up."
"From what I've seen so far, the benefits and the drawbacks pretty much balance each other out," said Lada. "Sometimes there are athletes more willing to give you the time of day and give you a scoop. But then there are others less willing to be as open and forthright with a woman. So when it's all said and done, we're right back in the middle of the pack."
De St. Aubin echoes those thoughts and said she thinks a balance has been struck, but one that keeps women constantly on the proving ground.
"I think being a woman in this field has pluses and minuses," said de St. Aubin. "The positives are that the athletes, coaches and GMs are usually more willing to give a female an interview than a male. Also, they are not as rude to you if you ask a tough question. The negative is that you have to work harder to earn their respect. You have to prove to them that you know what you are talking about and you are not just another pretty face in the business."
And if it just so happens that you do have a pretty face, are there romantic thoughts brewing toward these women who enter the sacred hallowed halls of the male athlete? Let's face it -- they don't call it "locker room humor" for nothing, and sometimes, boys will be boys. But, most women in the field seem to play pretty good defense.
"People lick their lips and offer hints, but I'm good at being goofy and acting unfazed by such actions," said Roquemore.
"My first year covering the Packers a certain quarterback (not Brett Favre) asked me for my phone number," said Garcia. "Although I think he was mostly kidding, I just had to say, 'Cut it out and let me do the interview,' and he stopped. It hasn't happened often and you just move on in a professional manner. Plus, most athletes are about 10-15 years younger than me now, so I don't foresee it being an issue."
A delicate balance
And there is the "husband at home" factor. Five of the six women are married, and that sets a tone and draws a line.
"I think having a ring on your finger definitely helps," said de St. Aubin, who is married to an ex-college soccer player, Bobby. "I also think it depends on how you carry yourself around them as well. I have never had that problem with any players or coaches. They have always been very respectful and made me feel comfortable in the locker room."
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Reporters have no place in the lockerooom. There are a few women reporters that know their business. On the other hand take Jesse Garcia, she worthless. Her stupid little comments about what the coach ate the night before, ect shows the only reason she has the job is because she is a women. If a male reporter had so little knowledge he would have been let go years ago. Maybe if some of these women reporters ever played the sport they would have some idea whats involved in the sport.
Female sports reporters like to defend themselves by Comparing themsleves to MALE DOCTORS !!.... YOU MAKE A APPOINTMENT FOR? ......REALLY Im sure you dont wake up one morning and ur MALE DOCTOR doesnt just show up and say to you. O its about time for you a exam and I was in the area figured id get started didnt want to bother you, and ask you about your privacy.. So here we go.... NO the man respects you the whole time you called for his help and I bet before every move your gyno makes he asks or tells you what hes gonna do and if its alright with you. Thats the respect men give women unconditionally.... You dont find many women caring about men unless its there son
And all these horror stories everyone is speaking of , with women goin into the locker room . Could have been avoided if we upheld an age old tradition of privacy. The one thing no one wants to mention. Cause if a women was forced into the situation like these professional organazations do these men they would cry bloody murder, its a double standard to replace another double standard??? Explain how your preying for a story from a athlete who just got finished playing a game for hours who just wants to change and he has to make all types of accomodations for you? As a reporter you must feel above everyone to force yourself on a nude person legally without question. Its hard to digest. And the men have been so brainwashed and soo FINED($) for speaking out against Locker room interviews that they are forced to act like they dont care even if they do. The team Scares them into being quiet. How is there any excuse , Just because a female judge passed the law doesnt make it right... I feel like the judge related her issues with becoming a judge in the 70s to the case , without even thinking about how the men would be affected!
I tell you what I dont understand why do women want to fight to get into a locker room which makes them feel uncomfortable and allows a chance of men being men and her just getting offended by what we do naturally, and thats just have stupid silly fun . WHY do these Women not argue that there shouldnt be any locker room interviews FOR (MALE AND FEMALE) because the situation and because its degrading.Try to urge the NFL and MEDIA to set up podiums and sections outside the locker room so theres no chance of any of these feelings or actions.... Instead the argument just is equal oppurtunity for the worker although men dont have the same oppurtunity covering female sports, I can digest its for a good reason men show how they feel on there sleeves... Women can control themselves alot better but that doesnt mean they should be able to feast there eyes on a Naked Athlete for a few heated questions that will almost definitly be retracted or apologized and forgotten about anyway.. lets not forget GROUPIES AND BACHELORETTE PARTIES women ARE turned on my the naked male figure and body even more so in the 21st century. Im sorry but women are Human and have sex drives, women maybe not as much as men but in the 21st century things have changed. If you research a woman by the name of Patti Shea she actually put on paper what can concievably be goin through every female reporters head while there in these locker rooms..... Even a bigger deal would be female sports reporters in college in the college football locker room seeing kids in there own class in the buff.... its just not right and something has to be done! Another problem is Female reporters seem to become robots when it comes to defending there job, they lack any good reason for being in there except there own agendas..... Just the same replies word for word
I have, what I belive to be a fundamental question on this matter. I read quite a few articles on the subject and I still can't find the answer. Is all the press and reporters gone after 20-30 minutes or can they bardge in at any time? If there is a given window, then there's no problem. If someone is uncomftable with walking around in just a towel and dressing in that state, he can do it later. It's just a part of his job to be available for that time for reporters. But if a reporter can come at any time at all, then it's an issue, since the player is forced to parade in front of women in a state of undress. It would also be very suspicious since it's alway stressed out that they need that access to make the news a quickly as possible (to be competetive) and to have those "raw emotions" captured right after the match. I don't understand why don't reportes inform in detail about access rules to locker rooms in different leagues (when and where can they be). It would stop most of the discussion and suspicion since many people think that athletes are forced to be naked in front of the women.
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