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Columnist
Locker rooms off limits? No, not really
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/29/2010 12:01 AM

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"60 Minutes" struck a nerve with me the other night, what with the New York Jets' incident with a female reporter still fresh in my mind.

No, the news magazine didn't produce a segment on whether women belong in sports journalism generally and locker rooms specifically.

The "60 Minutes" piece that said it all about female sports journalists without saying anything at all about them concerned the war in Afghanistan.

CBS' chief foreign affairs correspondent was embedded with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division along the border with Pakistan.

Her name yes, HER name is Lara Logan.

And in 2010 some still believe that women shouldn't cover sports?

The cameraman assigned to the "60 Minutes" story was R.A. Bribiesca, a Vietnam veteran who had no qualms about working with Logan in a combat zone.

Nor did members of the 101st Airborne have qualms about talking war with her.

Incoming shells exploded nearby about an hour after the CBS crew joined up with the Army unit. Logan found cover along with the troops and later was with them in the middle of a firefight.

Yet some still ask whether women should be sports journalists?

My goodness, females have served in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Back home they fight fires, apprehend criminals, sew limbs back on bloody bodies in emergency rooms.

Now, it should be noted that the sports issue revolves around reporters having access to locker rooms in which athletes often walk around naked.

Athletes object to the intrusion for various reasons religion, morals, modesty or sometimes just because they don't want us around.

After a Bears game in the 1980s, Refrigerator Perry became angry as TV cameras approached while he was wearing nothing more than a towel and grimace.

Paraphrasing Perry: "What do you think this is, the Playboy Channel?"

The next day I phoned the Playboy Channel to ask whether they would be interested in featuring the 350-pound Fridge naked.

The right guy was on the other end of the line. He played along with the joke by saying sure they would be. We both had a good chuckle.

Please forgive us for having fun at the expense of an issue that must still be sensitive and serious today if some still ask whether women should be sports journalists and/or in locker rooms.

(By the way, if athletes don't like current conditions, maybe they should join the Army and agree to be interviewed fully dressed by Logan in Afghanistan with bombs dropping all around them.)

Anyway, it would be odd that a female reporter could talk to Army officers who lost men in combat but not to athletes who lost nothing more than games.

Of course, the difference is Logan's subjects were dressed from helmets down to boots.

But let me offer a view of that from a male perspective: Most men I know would rather expose their bodies than their souls.

Watching an Army officer tear up while pouring his heart out to Ms. Logan confirmed for me the answer to the locker-room question.

If qualified, anyone of either gender should have an equal opportunity to be a sports journalist or anything else he or she wants to be.

mimrem@dailyherald.com