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“Let them wear towels”

Aug 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

old TV

ESPN has produced a documentary called “Let Them Wear Towels,” which is about the awful treatment women sports reporters received from athletes, teams, leagues and even media colleagues until way, way too damn recently.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I just read Alyson Footer’s column about it and I plan to see it as soon as I can.

Footer’s column is excellent, as rather than merely review the documentary, she goes interactive and tweets as if it were 1984 and she were trying to cover the beat under the stone age rules of the time. Given how most of our interaction with beat reporters is via Twitter these days it makes the awful treatment women received way more immediate than it might otherwise. We’ve sort of been conditioned to think of all documentaries as things chronicling a long-ago past and as such even the best ones tend to put a bit of distance between us and the subject matter. Footer’s tweets — and their footnotes, which explain that those were very real things which occurred — help get around that.

Oh, two other takeaways: (1) Footer’s use of the #deuce hashtag was fantastic. I won’t say why — go read it — but having spent a lot of time in spring training clubhouses, I will vouch for the particular awfulness of a clubhouse in the morning; and (2) the fact that Bowie Kuhn is in the Hall of Fame is an absolute atrocity. I mean it, every time I think I am clear about just how loathsome a human being he was, I’m given more evidence of his loathsomeness.

  1. Old Gator - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    I’m OK with the towels, as long as they get some good shots of the guys using them to snap each other’s asses.

    • indaburg - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      The player wouldn’t need to wear a towel. Would not embarass me a bit if I was doing the interviewing. The temptation to look down and say, “I see there is some truth to the rumors about your steroid usage” might get me in a bit of trouble.

      • skids003 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        You’d get stuffed in the locker a la Lupica/Kingman.

      • indaburg - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        Ha! I’m feistier than Lupica.

    • baseballici0us - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Oh Gator….you never disappoint :-)

  2. mybrunoblog - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    ESPN is such a mixed bag of tricks. Often, they are stealing every breaking sports story happening and then rebranding it “ESPN breaking news” as if it was their story. Don’t believe me? Go read SI, Foxsports, the big newspapers, etc. You’ll see all that news later that day or the next day on ESPN or their web site and they rarely give credit to whoever broke the story.
    Now, the opposite is that ESPN makes some terrific documentaries like the 30 for 30 and those type of things. Their baseball tonight broadcast is great viewing too.
    This new documentary should be good viewing.

    • blackandbluedivision - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      this has been addressed in the past.

      ESPN doesn’t give credit to anyone but they’re own reporters. Why? Because it’s free advertisement.

      “[reporters name] from Foxsports reports…” Well, aren’t you going to go there and see the full story? Why would they give them free advertisement?

      Plus, there have been times in the past where they attribute news to websites that don’t check their sources and since ESPN is a bigger name and will report on it all day, ESPN gets the flack.

      So what ESPN does is report “Sources say, [insert newstory]” Yes, they don’t give them credit. But, they don’t take credit themselves. They only report what their own reporters have as additional news.

      • tjwilliams - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        Actually, you’re wrong. The journalistic phrase “sources say” is used to indicate that an in-house reporter has personally spoken to somebody with first-hand knowledge and that’s where the information is coming from. When you’re taking your news from another news outlet, it’s generally accepted practice to name the news outlet or, if you want to be a little bitch about it, you say “reports say.” “Sources” have first-hand knowledge, “reports” do not. A Fox reporter is not a “source” because he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge and did not provide that knowledge directly to ESPN. Unless ESPN has their own source corroborating their reports, they should not be quoting other reporters as “sources,” because they aren’t.

      • blackandbluedivision - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        You’re right. But, that’s not how ESPN works. Here’s a quote from Mike Florio over at Profootballtalk about the same discussion when talking about Jay Glazer not getting credit about news he broke:

        “Last night’s report from Glazer that Sean Payton has agreed to terms on a new contract with the Saints resulted promptly in ESPN programming the news into its crawl after the term “sources.” That prompted Glazer to call ESPN out on Twitter — and it eventually provoked a response on Twitter from an ESPN producer named Steve Peresman.

        Peresman explained that ESPN uses the term “sources” when there are multiple reporters reporting the same thing, including one of their own (in this case, Adam Schefter).”

        If a journalist spoke to someone with first-hand knowledge it would say “Adam Schefter is reporting that Sources within [Insert team name] say…”

        They still give credit to the reporter.

        But, ESPN would just have a headline that reads “Sources say…”
        Then they’ll put in the article info about what one of their own reporters said.

      • tjwilliams - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        Except that ESPN is wrong, which you would have realized if you had kept reading that Florio article. The very next paragraph after the part you quoted reads

        “I didn’t go to what the cool kids call “J” school, but when there are multiple reports, the operative prefatory term is (wait for it) “reports.” Reporters employed by other networks are never “sources,” unless they are leaking information about their own situation or network.”

      • blackandbluedivision - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        Dude I said you were right. Dang. What more do you want? That’s what ESPN does. Is it right? NO. But, it’s what they do and I explained to you why. They’re a multi-million dollar company. Do you want to correct them? The most important thing is that they aren’t STEALING credit.

        They’re just using the wrong term.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:25 PM

        The most important thing is that they aren’t STEALING credit.

        They’re just using the wrong term.

        The thing is, they really are. There’s been multiple times where they use “sources” when everyone knows who’s reported it first. Here’s a link with all the different integrity issues ESPN has dealt with, but at the bottom they reference a few of the “sources” issues:

        The worst one on that link is the Chris Broussard one. PG Deron Williams tweeted that he just re-signed a deal with the Nets. Mutiple people, including Marc Stein at ESPN, give Williams credit. 10m after that tweet, Chris Broussard uses “sources”. You’d think the guy whose responsible for NBA news/rumors would follow one of the big FA pieces in the off-season, but apparently not.

    • raysfan1 - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      My biggest gripes about ESPN are (1) the insufferable talk shows, (2) repeating the same news story every hour while (3) failing to use their 24-hours-a-day platform to actually provide coverage of the wide variety of sports. I, for one, would much rather watch World Cup skiing or white water kayak racing to “First Take” any day.

      • Stacey - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        I’d rather watch another person’s colonoscopy than watch First Take.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        Having performed colonoscopies, I agree.

    • blackandbluedivision - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Why does it take so long?

      Usually because they want to confirm the report. You ever notice how they usually have a quote from the team, league official, law enforcement, or the person(s) involved along with their report.

      Sportscenter reaches thousands of a viewers very quickly along with other news sites. A blog like SI or Foxsports or even newspapers can’t. They want to make sure they get their stuff straight and not spread rumors that could ruin their reputation. They still give credit to the “sources” but they make sure they have the right information.

    • baseballici0us - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      “Their baseball tonight broadcast is great viewing too” …. You want good TV, go watch “MLB Tonight” with Greg, Boa, and Mitch Williams…that’s good TV

  3. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Longtime Brave John Smoltz, part of all of those prior teams that beat the Astros, snuck into a backroom adjacent to the visitors’ clubhouse to personally congratulate Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio and wish them luck in the next round

    Still reading it, but this comment is awesome. Seems like it happens a lot in baseball, be it the opposite team getting a player’s first hit ball back to him, or the standing ovations crowds give opposing players for milestones. Far better to remember this stuff from the game than the Jones incident.

  4. lew24 - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Btw, Garvey treated all women like that!

  5. fearlessleader - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    The documentary is great, as are all of the “Nine for IX” films I’ve seen so far. Definitely worth setting the DVR.

    • paperlions - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Agreed. I have not seen this one, yet…but I have seen those on Swoopes and Pat Summit, and “No Limits”, each is fantastic work.

      • fearlessleader - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        So curious to know who’s thumbs-downing these comments….

        I missed “Swoopes” but have seen all the others and can’t wait for the next few.

      • paperlions - Aug 12, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Petty people.

        I just assume people suck, that way, on the rare occasion they don’t, I’m pleasantly surprised…instead of being disappointed every time.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      >>So curious to know who’s thumbs-downing these comments….

      These non-sheeple must be stopped! Maybe the people ‘thumbs-downing’ comments like yours are anyone who’s not a misandrist sheep who worships at the media-throne of radical feminist and closeted lesbian, Robin Roberts. Robin can’t get through one broadcast on GMA without revealing her contempt for men and her jealousy against male professional team sports at least once. Women have enjoyed the equal sports opportunities of Title IX for 40 years, but is anything ever enough for feminists like Robin? Nope, this documentary is just a propaganda tool to blame the male gender once again because female athletes will never achieve the fame, wealth and relevance of their male counterparts. Sour grapes much, Robin?

      • fearlessleader - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        Um, yeah, Robin Roberts is definitely the one whose anger issues we should be worrying about. *backs away slowly from the mad dude*

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      baa, baa, baa…you’re being called back to the safety of your herd.

      so-called ‘fearless’ leader.

      Sorry you can’t handle any ideas and concepts so contrary to your group-think, that you must resort to questioning my sanity. Shows how in-‘tolerant’ and un-‘equal’ your kind actually is. Virtues you supposedly revere. Righhht.

      • fearlessleader - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        This goes beyond trolling. This is performance art. Seriously, though, I hope you get the help you need. Peace.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      fearfulfollower, run back to your sheeple herd.

      ‘Peace’ will never exist between sheeple like you and non-conformists like me.

  6. yahmule - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    There is still so much ignorance. When this subject is brought up, you will typically see somebody declare that this is a bunch of PC crap and people would scream bloody murder if male reporters had the same kind of access to female athletes, which, of course, they do have and have had for many years.

    You’re right that Kuhn was a piece of garbage. I blame management when a hostile environment persists in a workplace. You can only expect so much from drooling a troglodyte like Dave Kingman or Zeke Mowatt. It’s up to leagues and teams and coaches to crack down on inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. Unfortunately, the men in those authority positions tended to be older and even less resistant to change than the most of the athletes they were supposed to be directing.

    • nightman13 - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Funny thing is I could see men in the women’s locker room behaving far worse than women in the men’s.

      • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        Funnier thing is your glaring anti-men bias. Male reporters would have to first be allowed inside the locker rooms of female sports teams before they could behave in any manner. They still aren’t.

      • nightman13 - Aug 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        They are allowed the same access as women in women’s sports already. And last time I checked I have not heard of any of the acts that were performed on these women happening in reverse. Female athletes dumping water on male reports, etc.

        Considering I am in fact a man, it’s very strange that you accuse me of having an anti-man stance. Fact is behaviorally, men are more often than not the aggressors in most gender related issues. Sexual assaults, harassment, etc.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      The ignorance, I’m afraid is all on your end.

      As others have pointed out on this board, male reporters have NO such access inside locker rooms of female sports teams. But hey, who can expect accuracy from a radical feminist propagandist.

      Hopefully you’ll become educated about reality and reclaim your scrotum someday (if you ever had one).

      Sincerely, a proud drooling troglodyte (your slur against all men who protest unisex shower rooms)

      • yahmule - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        Actually, they have the same access as female reporters and that’s the issue, Drooly.

        Sorry some woman ruined all of them for you. My condolences to the next one with self esteem low enough to give you a shot.

  7. skipcastaneda - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I still want to know why baseball clubhouses are so bad first thing in the morning? I was a clubbie for an indy league team, and I can personally say the clubhouse was bad after a game.

  8. thebadguyswon - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    What’s the relevance to HBT?

    • cohnjusack - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Umm…it’s about sports, and the column in question largely revolves around baseball. I’m fairly certain Hardballtalk tends to cover baseball related news items.

  9. philliesblow - Aug 12, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Wonder if this gem will be included:

    “The only time I talk to a woman when I’m naked is when she’s on top of me or I’m on top of her.” — Jack Morris, to female reporter Jennifer Frey in 1990 when she approached him in the Tiger clubhouse

    • cohnjusack - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      Hahahaha, what a dumb piece of shit.

      • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        Hahahaha. But an honest piece of shit. Maybe you could learn something from him.

        Why else should he have to talk to a fully clothed member of the opposite sex while he’s trying to change clothes and shower? You wouldn’t expect a nude woman to talk to a fully clothed man.

      • cohnjusack - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        Well…if the woman was an athlete and reporters were allowed in the locker room to interview them…yeah, I would expect that.

        Don’t discriminate against an entire gender because you’re scared of a woman seeing your wee-wee.

      • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

        >>Well…if the woman was an athlete and reporters were allowed in the locker room to interview them…yeah, I would expect that.

        No, you wouldn’t. Like all the other anti-male sheeple on this board, you’re deeply offended by the thought of a nude woman being ‘intimidated’ by a fully clothed man. “If…if…if…men were ever allowed in to interview nude female athletes.” I won’t hold my breath as long as sheeple like you run the world.

        >>Don’t discriminate against an entire gender because you’re scared of a woman seeing your wee-wee.

        Dude, you showed all your cards with that juvenile response. Any man who speaks up for his privacy has a small penis? I mean seriously, do you also drive around in a pick-up with your buds looking for queers to beat up on weekends? Just so cliche.

    • jwbiii - Aug 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

      Obviously, pitching to score.

  10. hasbeen5 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Serious question, not making a statement about whether this is all “PC crap” or anything. Do male reporters go into locker rooms at, say, a WNBA game or a women’s World Cup soccer match?

    • dlf9 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      No. But in those sports, the locker rooms are also off limits to female reporters. Instead, there are separate interview rooms where the press can meet with players and coaches.

      • hasbeen5 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        That makes sense to me, and I wonder why players of any sport wouldn’t want to do things that way. Go get your shower, collect yourself. Seems less likely to fly off the handle in that situation as opposed to having a mic stuck in your face while you’re trying to get dressed.

      • stabonerichard - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Why would WNBA locker rooms be off limits while NBA locker rooms are fair game for reporters?

      • dlf9 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        I suspect the players would like it more, but the writers would hate it. They want the immediacy of what the players are willing to say before they have time to cool off and think things through.

        I also think the difference is that baseball grew up with small locker rooms in poorly constructed facilities 150 years ago where if you wanted press access, it just about had to be in the lockerroom. The Womens’ World Cup and WNBA didn’t exist until after the advent of mega stadia with plenty of ancillary rooms. It is easier to start a tradition from scratch than change one after 100+ years.

    • yahmule - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Male reporters have the same access female reporters do in women’s sports.

      • stabonerichard - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        So women are afforded a greater level of respect for privacy when it comes to locker room business. Nothing wrong with that, though it’s no surprise men would also prefer that type of shelter. Still no reason for the dudes to act like pigs towards women.

      • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        No, they don’t have the same access to female locker rooms. That’s a well established fact. Try doing some research before you post these falsehoods.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Don’t feel the need to apologize to this bunch of feminists for daring to ask a logical question about double standards. Funny, I thought feminists were supposed to be FOR equality between the genders. Equality would be female athletes suffering the same invasion of privacy that the males do.

      • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        stabonerichard – Aug 12, 2013 at 2:13 PM,

        ‘Nothing wrong’ with women being afforded greater privacy than men? Seriously, dude? This is 2013, 50 years after the women’s movement took hold, 40 years after Title IX, right? Or have I stepped into an alternate universe? Are females still helpless children in need of special care?

        I guess guys like you only support ‘equality’ between females and…other females. Males are somewhere beneath.

      • yahmule - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:39 PM

        Stop spreading misinformation, Drooly. Makes you look like a cranky little boy.

  11. historiophiliac - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Amusingly, Karie (Ross) Dombrowski became persona non grata at ESPN after she went off about the sexism and harassment there. I won’t wait for that documentary from ESPN.

  12. dlf9 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    One of the best baseball writers ever is Roger Angell. I wish that I was as observant and as wonderful a wordsmith as is he. One of the best things he wrote was a lengthy article in The New Yorker in the late 70s / early 80s describing the travails of female sports reporters and strongly supporting their right to participate equally with their male peers. It was the first time I was aware of the issue and have supported equality in this sphere ever since.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      What a shame ol’ Roger and you don’t actually support ‘equality’ but just pay lip service to that term. Equality would mean that males and females are treated exactly the same in all circumstances. This is allegedly what Gloria Steinem and your ilk want, but on closer inspection that’s not what you want at all. You want women to have a superior status where the rules don’t apply to them. Such as entering rooms clearly marked ‘MEN’ where it’s known men are unclothed, showering and relieving bodily functions. Equality would mean that men have the same access to rooms clearly marked ‘FEMALE’, but of course they don’t.
      While women now have access to all YMCAs, Navy ships, army barracks, combat units. Men still have no such access to YWCAs, Curves (countless other female-only gyms), female locker rooms. Yet you and your feminist cohorts have yet to come up with a rational reason for the double standard. You always resort to “women are physically vulnerable and men aren’t.” Which torpedoes your whole gender equality argument from the start. 2013, enough with the excuses, we’re all equal in your and Roger’s world, right?

  13. oldskimmy26 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Baseball fan here, with a serious question for Craig.

    Can you give us a history of why Bowie Kuhn is such a d-bag? My knowledge of baseball history is somewhat lacking.

    • dlf9 - Aug 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      My $0.02 on Kuhn: He did a horrible job in ushering in the dawn of free agency including the ’72 and ’81 strikes; he profounding messed up the economics of the sport by refusing the Charlie Finley sales of Rudi, Blue, and Fingers; tried to prevent the publication of “Ball Four,” one of the best baseball books ever written; required Hank Aaron to play on the road when he was sitting on #713 then didn’t attend the game when Henry broke Ruth’s record; horribly mismanaged the cocaine cases, resulting in damaged relations with MLBPA and indirectly to the existing PED problems.

      Also, separate from his time as MLB Commissioner, immediately afterwards, he created a huge law firm that he almost immediately drove into bankruptcy while moving to Florida in order to escape personal financial liability.

      • clemente2 - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        Short and sweet; pretty full summary, too. The ’81 strike was a disaster. And the last point about mishandling the cocaine cases leading to the PEDs problem is true and insightful–the MLBPA took its lesson from that and started not cooperating with the MLB, either on the issue in general or in the CBA. Selig contributed to this by not acting to simmer down the conflict and get something done on a known problem earlier, though he probably saw how ineffective Vincent’s effort was, and thought there was no where to go with it (bad leadership decision, anyway).

  14. historiophiliac - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    And that piece was righteous.

  15. awesometube-admin - Aug 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Reblogged this on .

  16. ezthinking - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    How about not going into the locker room at all? They already hijack the game hero on the field before the locker room. Lock everyone out, interview after they leave.

    I know reporters will have to stay up later to write their stories, but so fucking what.

    • sheeplesuck - Aug 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      Careful. You’re sounding too logical, rational and EQUAL for the misandrist herd of sheeple posting on here. They might have you silenced.

      • yahmule - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        Go find some hate porn and rub one out, Drooly.

  17. JP - Aug 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Will someone please let her know that there is no crying in baseball reporting?

    • nightman13 - Aug 12, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I want to thumbs up this for quoting A League of Their Own, but I don’t want to seem sexist for doing it.

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