Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Readers Missing the Boat on Masters’ Discrimination
The only thing more astounding than the good folks at Augusta National refusing to allow a female reporter into the locker room to interview a golfer is the reactionary comments from some of the readers at NorthJersey.com.
For those who missed it, columnist Tara Sullivan of The Bergen Record was not permitted into the locker room Sunday at The Masters during a group interview with Rory McIlroy. Tara wrote a column on her experience and Masters officials have since apologized.
“It should not have happened,” Augusta spokesman Steve Ethun told The Associated Press. “We will work as hard as we can to make sure it does not happen again.”
(Full disclosure: I worked with Sullivan at The Record/Herald News for 10 years and, us both being fans of The Boss, we have attended a few Bruce Springsteen shows together.)
So The Masters did the right thing — in the end — by apologizing, but what about all these reactionary comments at the bottom of Tara’s column?
As of about 2:30 p.m. Monday, there were 21 comments, although it appears many of the more hostile ones have since been taken down.
Women do not belong in men’s locker rooms and men do not belong in women’s locker rooms…writes DukeofWanaque
Why is the locker room interview so imperative in any sport? Why can’t you just give these athletes a break, and wait until they get out of the locker room? csrv says
And here’s my favorite from Rodger1221:
Why would you want to go in there?? Did you not have enough info already? Could you not tell by watching him play, what happened?? I thought the idea of reporting was to report what really happened at an event, not just what one person pehaps thought happened, although it was about him. And with the division of men and women…The family life is being destroyed by females like yourself. Suck it up.
All of these comments from anonymous posters who don’t have to give their names go to the heart of the matter, which is this: Sullivan was denied equal access to interview.
The issue is not that the interview took place in a locker room — female reporters are in men’s locker rooms all the time doing their jobs; they don’t care about checking out male athletes — it’s that Sullivan wasn’t treated equally.
Imagine you were a reporter (on deadline) and were walking in a scrum, of, say, 20 other reporters, down a 20-foot carpet.
At the 15-foot mark, you were pulled aside and told you could not continue.
Everyone else keeps walking, but you must stop.
You have a credential to cover the event, but for some reason (you’re a woman, they don’t like what you wrote the day before, whatever), you can’t continue along with the other reporters.
Imagine if this happened to your wife, your sister, your daughter.
The interview itself could’ve been held on The Moon or Backstage at Springsteen.
But 15 other reporters are allowed to see McIlroy’s expressions, ask him questions, gain additional information while one is not.
Remember that it was reporter in the locker room, Steve Wilstein, who first discovered the steroid precursor known as “andro” in Mark McGwire’s locker.
If a reporter had been banned from that locker room, he/she wouldn’t have been able to see the andro, break the story and ultimately open the Pandora’s Box known as Steroids.
Although I’m clearly not a woman and was not at The Masters, I had a similar experience two years ago when I was denied access to a Big East basketball team’s locker room simply because the coach did not like what I had written.
A staff employee literally stood in my way, told me the coach said I couldn’t go in (alongside the other 10 reporters) and offered to take my tape recorder in for me.
Though I was shocked and stunned, I ended up giving it to him and getting the recorder back. But I wasn’t able to ask my own questions or see the athletes as they responded. Luckily, this incident transpired at the end of the season, the coach was soon fired and normalcy was restored.
But had it gone on all season, I would have been at a competitive disadvantage simply because I was denied equal access.
And that’s what the Sullivan incident is about at its very core.
It’s not about locker rooms, bathrooms or even The Masters itself.
It’s about equal access for all journalists.
(Photo courtesy AP)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.