Week 1 of the NFL season. The Tuesday after the first NFL action of the season is as easy as it gets for sports writers. There are headlines spewing out of every box score. An off-season of questions are answered only with more questions. Forget about digging for stories, the things just fall into your lap at this time of year.
For New York Jets beat writers, it’s been a pretty good year. The Jets had their “magical” run to the AFC Championship game that captivated the hearts of New York and much of America. Then Rex Ryan, the Jets head coach, filled in all the holes of a sports writer’s off-season with grand salutes and 2010 Super Bowl predictions. The Jets continued to keep sports writers busy with another off-the-field incident on Monday.
TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz was in New York on Monday for the Jets season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens. Sainz doesn’t typically cover football from week to week but she was doing a piece on the Jets QB Mark Sanchez. After the game, Sainz was in the Jets locker room with all of the other writers and reporters and quickly got the attention of several players and staff; standing out in a crowd probably isn’t out-of-the-ordinary for Sainz, a former Miss Universe contestant. Sainz does not dress provocativally but she definitely doesn’t dress conservatively (her clothes tend to fit her very well). During her time in the locker room, players and staff allegedly made several inappropriate comments towards Sainz.
This situation is already pretty messy and it seems as though everybody is throwing in their two cents about the situation. I figure I may as well join them.
Let’s go through all the major players in this story and lay blame for such an avoidable and embarrassing incident. Here they are, listed from the person(s) who deserve the least blame to the person(s) who deserve the most blame:
Ines Sainz – The idea that Sainz “brought this on herself” (as many have suggested) because of the way she dressed is ludicrous! The thought that somebody can “deserve” to be disrespected is absolutely absurd.
It’s shocking to me that it is now being debated whether or not females should be allowed in the dressing room at all. Female sports reporters are common in this day and age. Should reporters simply wait outside the dressing room and interview players as they are on their way out of the building? Maybe, but this policy should include all reporters. Female reporters should not have to wait outside the dressing room while male reporters are allowed in to get first cracks at the stories. A career in media is very competitive and discriminating against somebody because of their sex may be something that was acceptable during Don Drapers lifetime but it is not anymore.
Ines Sainz is guilty of nothing.
Rex Ryan – The behavior of employees, especially during office hours, is typically a reflection of the behaviors of the people that run the organizations. Rex Ryan’s behavior throughout the off-season, which is well documented through national media and the NFL fine list, was rude, arrogant, and obnoxious. He continually had a complete disregard of any consequences for his actions. I wasn’t in the Jets locker room after the Monday night game but from what I understand of the situation, the behavior of the players and staff involved in this incident was just as reckless as Ryan’s off-season behavior.
Jets Players and staff involved – the one buzz word most associated with this story is professionalism; however, this word has been directed in the direction is Ines Sainz. I continually hear that the reporter should have been more professional in her appearance. What about professionalism on the players behalf?
During media time after the game, when the locker room is full of writers, reporters, and cameras, one would not expect to have to remind the players about professionalism. In an age of Twitter and Youtube, where professional athletes are forever warned to be aware at all times and at all places because somebody will notice, theJets players involved in this incident had the arrogance to make these comments in a room full of professional media personel.
What would the consequences be for a regular employee at a regular job who behaved similarly? Reprimand and discipline wouldn’t even be an option! The employee would be lucky if they even got a chance to clean out their office for such a disgraceful and disrespectful behavior.
I understand the locker room is a sanctuary for these athletes and it’s their area. At the same time, surely these players have some sense of the role the media plays in their sport. Sports media coverage is like a 24-hour info-mercial promoting their cause. Sports media indirectly helps to line the pockets of professional sports teams and their athletes. The teams understand how important the media’s role is and the NFL definitely understands how vital the media is to their business (they break for an extra week at the Super Bowl to accommodate the media!). Why do some players not understand?
Jets Public Relations Representative – Although the behavior of the players and staff involved is completely unacceptable it was predictable on some level. One task a PR representative of a football team is responsible for is ensuring the media has access to the team in a manner that is fair to the team and the writer/reporter. Being treated in a respectful manner should be automatic and not something that’s granted upon request. The Jets PR staff clearly failed Ines Sainz, the New York Jets, and the NFL.
The PR staff should have granted the interview priviledges to TV Azteca with special considerations. Perhaps a member of the Jets PR staff could have accompanied her around the dressing room to ensure all went well. Perhaps the Jets could have granted an exclusive interview with Mark Sanchez on Tuesday. I’m not saying every female reporter needs special considerations when being granted a media pass but a former Miss Universe contestant walking around a dressing room full of testosterone could probably be considered an exceptional circumstance.
Ines Sainz is not pressing for any type of legal action to be taken. The NFL and the New York Jets are currently investigating the incident. Who knows, maybe this whole thing is a big phony distraction set up by Rex Ryan. After all, I just wrote an entire article on the Jets without mentioning how pitiful the self proclaimed soon-to-be Super Bowl Champs were in their season opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens.