Hockey commentator and controversy lightning rod Don Cherry ruffled some feathers last week when he announced on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada that women reporters simply shouldn’t be allowed in NHL dressing rooms.
You can check here for the full story, but his argument is essentially that:
- Women are too precious to be subjected to the mistreatment that often comes with post-game sports reporting, and
- There is no reason for females to be anywhere near a male dressing room, much like there is no reason for males to be anywhere near a female dressing room.
Much of the opposition to Cherry’s comments came from the sports media industry. Reporters often only receive post-game access to athletes in the dressing rooms. To them, the idea that female reporters should be shunned was tantamount to an idea from the Stone Age.
Yahoo! Canada visitors, however, sided heavily in favour of Cherry's comments and agreed that male dressing rooms are no place for female reporters.
[ Pulse of Canada: Should women be allowed in male dressing rooms? ]
To get us started, here is a reasonable comment from Jon Davidson. He said, "Don is right, he is not suggesting women should not be sports journalists, it’s just that it’s very uncomfortable if they are in the dressing room with a bunch of half naked men, it’s not a knock on their rights."
Wes agreed, arguing that equality means no special rules for either gender.
“This is not an issue of feminism or things of that nature. This is about people of the opposite sex being allowed into a shower and changing area. The rules need to be clear and across the board. No special circumstances,” he writes. “If the people saying women should be allowed just because it is their job as a journalist, then they should also be very comfortable with men going to interview women athletes in their locker room as well."
There were also scores of abusive comments that cannot be repeated here, many of which jocularly suggested female reporters should have to be naked to do their jobs. Others claimed the argument was an obvious double-standard.
“Cooter Shooter” says, “Women in men's dressing rooms is just more feminist double standard. Their constant whining ‘we only want equality’ has all too often meant ‘we want equality coupled with special rights that won't be available to men’. This whole wash room thing is just one small example of what feminists call EQUALITY.”
Many sided with this argument. “I thought part of the fight for male/female equality was the elimination of double standards,” RJ White wrote. Norman added, “Unfortunately our modern society seems to have has lost all sense of decorum and dignity.”
The largest bone of contention came down to an argument about whether any reporter should be welcome in a dressing room. In most cases, the answer was an absolute no.
Melody was emphatic, beginning her comment with, “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!
“Don Cherry is ABSOLUTELY right! Women should never be allowed in the change rooms at any venue,” she wrote. “Better yet, no reporters should be allowed in the change rooms of the teams before or after a game or otherwise! That's the team's ‘bedroom’ when they are playing. Would women appreciate male reporters in the change room at one of their games? I think not! Keep them all out!”
Cassandra added, “If women are allowed in men's dressing rooms, then men should be allowed in women's dressing rooms. Now doesn't that sound fair and equal?”
Very few Yahoo! Canada commenters spoke out on behalf of the status quo. But one who did was Gorleo. Gorleo wrote extensively on the subject, saying that leagues establish their own media access policies and those should either govern everyone, or be changed for everyone.
"These policies make the locker room a functioning workplace. Once a media member is credentialed by a sports organization, the organization is bound to give that reporter, regardless of gender, the same access to the locker room afforded to other media members," he wrote.
His suggestion received support from “French Canadian,” who believes “there should be a neutral place where woman and men reporters can go to ask various questions and that should be the rules and so to avoid causing problems on the long run.”
For those who weighed in to the debate on Yahoo! Canada, the answer was obvious. Get all reporters out of the dressing room. Equality for all, not for some.
Was Don Cherry right, after all?
Image via Steve Faguy.