One theory I've heard in the wake of the Ines Sainz episode -- she is the TV Azteca personality who was treated crudely by the New York Jets -- is whether reporters ought to be in NFL locker rooms.
This is the time of Twitter and Facebook and other forms of instant gossip. Doesn't locker room reporting feel as antiquated as a Smith Corona typewriter?
It does. But what's the alternative? I don't know anybody in my business that says, "I get to go in the locker room, hooray." I don't know any athetes that say, "The media is here, hooray."
We go to collect information. Those of us that work for newspapers disseminate the information in Tweets and blogs and even stories.
I spent about 40 minutes in the Panther locker room Wednesday. I talked to DeAngelo Williams and Jimmy Clausen about football, Tony Pike about his small market team, the Cincinnati Reds, dominating the NL Central while my small market team, the Minnesota Twins, dominates the AL Central. I said hello to Rhys Lloyd, whom the Panthers signed Tuesday. I asked Travelle Wharton, a former South Carolina star, if he saw the Gamecocks pound Georgia.
I didn't hear anything I can build a career around. But I shook some hands and heard some things. My goals are simple. I want to set up a more extensive interview later. I want to hear a player blow up and say something in anger (and honesty). I want insight. I want humor.
But mainly I go because there's no choice, because if we don't the information will be divulged in canned quotes (we gave 100%, we play 'em one game at a time, it is what it is) or in group interviews. And the bigger the crowd the less effective the interview. It's tough to generate a conversation in a group because somebody always asks about the key play.
A locker room is inconvenient and messy and occasionally awkward. But at times it's all we have. So we continue to show up. There is no next best thing to being there.