I don’t condone sexism of any kind. And I think it’s perfectly fine for women reporters to be in NFL locker rooms.
It’s very unfortunate that three women—Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports, Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa News and the Tulsa World’s Katie McInerney—trying to do their jobs were delayed from getting into the Jacksonville Jaguars locker room Sunday following the team’s game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. They were initially denied access by someone they described as an usher and a few minutes later let in when the matter was cleared up.
It was one person making a bad mistake. A very unfortunate mistake.
“Regarding the incident [Sunday] night outside the Jaguars locker room, the security guard acted mistakenly on his own accord and not at the direction of Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts, or the Jaguars. We have taken steps to assure such a misunderstanding will not happen again and apologize for the inconvenience to the reporters involved,” said Lucas Oil Stadium Director Mike Fox.
I think we can all agree that in this day and age, there’s no excuse for the kind of discrimination the women faced.
But discrimination—and stereotyping—takes many forms and is often perpetrated by the most unlikely folks.
That’s why I was troubled by tweets put out by two of the women delayed in getting into the Jaguars’ locker room.
“When getting ready to enter Jags locker room with other APSE female fellows, old man tried to deny us entry. It’s still 2015, right?” Chandler tweeted.
Yes, it is 2015. And yes, ageism is discrimination, too. So to characterize someone as an “old man” is probably not terribly appropriate. I don’t think Chandler was merely pointing out a descriptive feature. And if you’re not sure what Chandler meant, Watson helped cleared that up with her tweet.
“I was just blocked from a locker room by an old, out-of-touch geezer who wasn’t sure women were allowed because ‘you know how guys are,’” Watson tweeted.
I’m not sure what you think of the word ‘geezer,’ but I’m pretty sure Watson won’t want to be described that way in 40 or 50 years, and I know she won’t want to be presumed to be out-of-touch merely because she has some gray hairs and a few wrinkles.
Maybe the usher is out of touch. Or maybe he was poorly trained. Maybe he was just trying to find his way on his first day on the job. Been there.
Watson, Chandler and McInerney were at the Colts-Jaguars game as part of an Associated Press Sports Editors diversity fellowship weekend. The first lesson for Watson and Chandler might be to appreciate diversity in all its forms.
My dad lived to be 91 years old. And, yes, by the end of his long life, there were a few things he wasn’t quite up on. But I never once called him—or any other old person—a geezer. I never once called him an old man, and certainly never with any hint of derision.
That’s because he taught me long ago that if you want to get respect, you first have to give respect.