War of the words: Ladies in the men’s (dressing) room

Don Cherry digs himself a hole

By Josh Martin, Sports Editor

Don Cherry—the laughable, terribly blunt, opinionated but somewhat lovable Canadian icon has found himself in yet another firestorm after commenting that women reporters “don’t belong” in dressing rooms. His reasoning was pathetic, saying that “guys are going to act like jerks in front of women,” and that “women shouldn’t be in there, you have to have respect for women.”

Don’s comments were made in reaction to what happened with Chicago Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith, who took heat in an interview exchange with female reporter, Karen Thompson, after a 3–1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The conversation between Thompson and Keith on an undetected penalty carried out with Thompson saying, “It looked like there was a penalty.” Keith responded with, “Oh no, I don’t think there was. I think [Daniel Sedin] scored a nice goal. The ref was right there. That’s what the ref saw. We should get you as a ref, maybe, hey?”

“Yeah, maybe. I can’t skate though,” Thompson replied.

“First female referee…can’t play probably, either, right? But you’re thinking the game like you know it? Okay, see ya.”

The remarks from Keith were blown out of proportion by the power of the media, but regardless of what happened in the interview, how is Cherry’s point justified? Taking away women reporters from the dressing room wouldn’t change anything. Cherry is defending the NHL players in a laughable way, saying boys will be boys. These players are professional athletes and must have a level of professionalism, regardless of the gender that surrounds them. By taking women away from the dressing room, it’s encouraging the idea that it’s okay for guys to act the way they are and is pushing society in a backwards direction from where we strive to be with gender equality.

Touching on the nudity factor of when athletes are walking around the locker room in nothing but skin, I’m sure it’s uncomfortable for all parties regardless of whether or not the reporters are male or female. Reporting on someone who has their junk hanging out while answering questions is just an awkward situation that no one wants to be a part of. There has to be a level of professionalism, a separate room like Cherry suggested where players can do interviews would be ideal, like on Sportsnet or TSN in-between periods or after games in the hallway outside the dressing room.

Cherry also said that men reporters aren’t allowed in female dressing rooms, so how is this fair? This is valid but can be resolved with a designated room and time for interviews. This would relieve the players tremendously by not being bombarded with reporters after a long game. Let them shower, change, and then the reporters can ask two or three players for a quick interview in a designated room. That way they can be fully-clothed in a neutral space where the reporters and players can be professional, do their business, and then be on their way.


Women have no place in male change rooms

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Don Cherry says a lot of things. Some reasonable, some obvious, and some outlandish. And all while wearing an amusingly garish suit and tie combo. His latest comments on women not belonging in the locker room have stirred up quite a storm, but there’s no reason for it.

The main issue here seems to be that every feminist and politically correct do-gooder immediately leaped to their feet as soon as even a hint of sexism popped up. Women can’t go somewhere? What? Why?! It was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction made without even taking 30 seconds to examine the situation and what exactly was being said. Ron MacLean was pretty brilliant taking on that role. It’s almost impossible not to cringe and laugh simultaneously watching the clip over and over again. But that’s neither here nor there.

Cherry’s right…for once. Barring women from male locker rooms isn’t a sexist act in the least. Some have taken the side of women shouldn’t be in the locker room because of the abuse they may have to face, but for me, that’s missing the point. If a woman wants to go into a room full of males in varying states of undress, that’s fine and dandy for her. If she can put up with the jibes and teases, good on her. But this isn’t about how strong females can be. We all know women are equal to men and can do whatever they set their mind to—that’s old news. This is about the men.

A locker room is a sort of haven. A room full of crass jokes and lewd stories. Having to worry about modesty due to the presence of women destroys that atmosphere. It’s not like anyone ever really needs to prance about completely nude, but it’s the fact that one can that’s so liberating. A woman in the room can make things a little stiff.

Like Cherry notes (and MacLean hilariously tries to defend), you wouldn’t send a male into a female change room, so why vice versa? Talk about gender equality; it looks like women have finally gained the upper hand. The world has never seen a man holding up a microphone to a female athlete asking her questions while her teammates wander about to and from the showers, and honestly, it never should. To support that point, how many times have you ever heard that suggestion of having male reporters in female dressing rooms come up? If it’s ridiculous for one sex to do it, it should be for the other as well.

Food for thought: should reporters be allowed in change rooms at all?