FanDuel - WFBC

September 17, 2010

The Lisa Olson Incident, 20 Years Later: Today is the 20th anniversary of the Lisa Olson incident in the New England Patriots locker room, when the female Boston Herald sportswriter was sexually harassed by players Zeke Mowatt, Robert Perryman and Michael Timpson. Mowatt walked up to her while he was nude and fondled his genitals as she was interviewing a teammate. Olson said Mowatt told her, "Is this what you want? Do you want to take a bite out of this?" and she described the incident as "premeditated mind rape." Then-team owner Victor Kiam II falsely claimed that she once followed another team's player into the shower and reportedly called her a "classic bitch" (which he denied). Olson settled a lawsuit against the team, and after receiving hate mail, death threats and having her home burglarized, she moved to Australia to work for one of her employer's other newspapers. Today, Olson's a columnist for AOL FanHouse and Mowatt runs a janitor service. Kiam died in 2001. "Every female sports reporter has her stories," writes Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sportswriter Lori Nickel. "I won't bore you with mine. But I will tell you that, when they happened, I didn't tell the teams, I told a few friends, I didn't tell colleagues at the Association for Women in Sports Media -- because I felt I needed to be tough and handle it on my own."

posted by rcade to football at 01:23 PM - 20 comments

Patriots owner Victor Kiam II seemingly decided that the best defense was to be offensive. "I can't disagree with the players' actions," he said, arguing that the Herald "asked for trouble" by assigning a female reporter to his team.

Wow. That link from People with the fans and other player's reactions is shocking. There has at least been progress in that respect. Woody Johnson took the Ines Sainz incident very seriously.

posted by bperk at 01:10 PM on September 17

There has at least been progress in that respect.

...in no small part because of the Olson incident.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:30 PM on September 17

I am curious as to who's right takes precedence. A female reporter's right to access the locker room or the players right to privacy while naked.

In my opinion all reporters should be banned from the locker room and access granted to all in a separate location near the locker room like possibly a press room. Hasn't anyone figured this out yet?

Why would this even be an issue when there is such a simple solution that would accommodate all parties involved.

posted by Atheist at 02:02 PM on September 17

A female reporter's right to access the locker room or the players right to privacy while naked.

How do players have a right to privacy in a stadium locker room? It's not their house. Even at 13 years old, I thought Kiam's "Patriot Missile" joke came off poorly. Though I'm not so mature as to have stopped using "Zeke Mowatt" as a reference for anything out of line. It's just a great name.

posted by yerfatma at 02:24 PM on September 17

What is the purpose of interviewing players (athletes) in the locker room?

posted by yzelda4045 at 02:34 PM on September 17

To capture a player's raw, unfiltered emotional responses after a win or a loss. As we all know, most pro athletes are notorious for giving measured responses when given half a chance. To get a better story, you want how they really feel and you are more than likely to get that type of response right after the game, before they've showered and have come back to earth.

posted by NoMich at 02:42 PM on September 17

And to see athletes' weiners because it is everyone's dream to see a penis because they are so beautiful.

posted by yerfatma at 03:18 PM on September 17

I'm not so mature as to have stopped using "Zeke Mowatt" as a reference for anything out of line. It's just a great name.

Woody Johnson took the Ines Sainz incident very seriously.

Woody Johnson > Zeke Mowatt

posted by tselson at 03:53 PM on September 17

I am curious as to who's right takes precedence. A female reporter's right to access the locker room or the players right to privacy while naked.

Reporters don't have a right to the locker room. Reporters of one gender have a right to the locker room if the other gender is allowed in. A team could ban all media from the locker room any time it wanted.

I don't think locker room interviews are justifiable because they give "raw, unfiltered" responses. I think it's a time issue. If reporters had to wait until all players had showered and changed, their stories would be delayed for an extra 60-90 minutes. The teams and media both have a vested interest in getting stories out fast.

posted by rcade at 03:56 PM on September 17

I don't think locker room interviews are justifiable because they give "raw, unfiltered" responses. I think it's a time issue. If reporters had to wait until all players had showered and changed, their stories would be delayed for an extra 60-90 minutes.

And the players would find it much easier to ditch :-D

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:08 PM on September 17

How do players have a right to privacy in a stadium locker room? It's not their house.

Disagree, fatty. In the sense that it is a space provided for players to suit up, prepare for a game, take off their gear, shower, take care of personal business, then it is "their house". I'm in favor of banning all media from the locker room. Let the sideline reporters take their chances of gaining an "on the spot" interview during the post-game scrum. Otherwise, wait until access is granted in a press room or the like after the game.

rcade, I disagree with the 60 - 90 minute delay for stories without locker room access. Players are routinely available at the post-game podium within 15 minutes of the final whistle. Watch a Patriots post-game show sometime and see how quickly Brady is out there. If in this day and age of rapid transmittal of complete stories a reporter cannot get his stuff in for over an hour, he is doing something wrong. If the reporters are looking for immediacy and the possibility of some damaging or embarrassing comments, then let them look elsewhere.

posted by Howard_T at 04:39 PM on September 17

I wouldn't care if they closed the locker room and made the media wait in a press room. With 24-hour cable, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and all the rest, athletes are more accessible today than ever.

rcade, I disagree with the 60 - 90 minute delay for stories without locker room access.

You may be right. I like to turn it to the channels that cover postgame press conferences after big playoff games, and athletes and coaches come out pretty fast these days.

posted by rcade at 05:05 PM on September 17

If it is ok for female sports reporters to be in the male locker rooms after a game while most players are naked, then why do you never hear a male reporter in a women's locker room after a game while they are naked? Its a double standard. The players should have a right to some privacy while they are naked.

posted by grabofsky74 at 06:52 PM on September 17


posted by grabofsky74 at 06:53 PM on September 17

If it is ok for female sports reporters to be in the male locker rooms after a game while most players are naked, then why do you never hear a male reporter in a women's locker room after a game while they are naked? Its a double standard. The players should have a right to some privacy while they are naked.

Reporters that are men cover the WNBA and are permitted in the locker room. You haven't heard about it because everyone behaves professionally so it isn't a big deal. You don't hear about most of the women in locker's rooms covering sports played by men for the same reason.

posted by bperk at 07:08 PM on September 17

As we all know, most pro athletes are notorious for giving measured responses..

I know there's a joke in there somewhere.

posted by BornIcon at 08:55 PM on September 17

In my opinion all reporters should be banned from the locker room and access granted to all in a separate location near the locker room like possibly a press room. Hasn't anyone figured this out yet?

A female British journalist who has done sporting journalism on both sides of the Atlantic chimed in on a Deadspin thread to note that dressing/locker-room access just doesn't happen in Britain (or Europe, for that matter): there's a distinct press area for interviews. (She also has a story about an American locker-room incident that I won't spoil.)

As for the rationale... well, does anyone have a potted history of locker-room access for the press in the US?

posted by etagloh at 12:17 AM on September 18

I'll second the not having reporters. I understand the idea is to have access to the raw emotions, but you can still get emotions in formal press conferences (cue the Jim Mora "Playoffs?" rant). Also, I have a suspicion that most reporters just hope to be their the next time Ryan Leaf decides to start screaming at them or Lou Pinellia starts fighting someone (and if I had Youtube access, I would have inserted links for humor value).

As to the idea that pro athletes only give soft, middling answers to questions, maybe if we didn't castigate athletes for giving any other type of answers, we wouldn't have this problem (see the third paragraph from the bottom and on).

What's wrong with a slight delay after the game for a press conference? It's not like there isn't one already, and the delay would just allow for highlights and the talking heads to talk.

posted by Bonkers at 05:44 AM on September 18

If it is ok for female sports reporters to be in the male locker rooms after a game while most players are naked, then why do you never hear a male reporter in a women's locker room after a game while they are naked?

As I understand it, the men reporters have that same right and have equal access to women's locker rooms. The difference is the women's sports tend to not allow ANY reporters in the locker rooms while the women are dressing (men or women), or the women stay dressed until the interviews are over.

The nudity issue comes because the male players tend to be more caviler with nudity and they'll be damned in there going to wait for everybody to clear out before they drop trough...and once 10 guys are doing it, even guys who AREN'T caviler about it will do it too.

posted by bdaddy at 09:38 AM on September 18

The nudity issue comes because the male players tend to be more caviler with nudity

One point that was made on WEEI today that the NFL players are not complaining that their modesty is being violated...so, yeah, that's a bit of a false issue on a couple of counts. I think personally that it would be a reasonable objection, but apparently the players aren't making it. If they did, the solution is simple: no reporters, male or female, in the locker room.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:46 PM on September 18

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