By Anica Wong
“You see a lot of penises in my line of work…professionally speaking, they have a lot in common, which is to say they are attached to guys, most of whom are naked while I am not, thus forming the odd dynamic of our relationship.”
This is how Jane Leavy’s fictional book, “Squeeze Play” starts. The book chronicles a female sports reporter’s time covering a baseball team. Leavy, herself a former sports writer for the Washington Post, may have created the main character, A.B. Berkowitz, but the book itself is loosely inspired by her own time covering the Orioles between 1979 and 1983.
Joe Smith, one of the Tampa Rays beat reporters for the St. Petersburg Times, came to talk to our SJI class today. Smith has been at the Times for 3 years and covered the Rays’ run to the World Series last year. We were talking about what it is like in the clubhouse of a professional baseball team and Smith equated being in the clubhouse to being in someone’s living room—comfortable and casual, most of the time.
But as Sandy Rosenbush pointed out for the two of us girls in the program, it can be a little intimidating to walk into a room where you don’t see many people that look like you.
In an interview with a blog, the Bronx Banter, Leavy said, “You know, this might sound really strange, but there were equally measures of chivalry and Animal House in each sport.”
While at Stanford, where I am finishing up my work in the masters program in journalism, I was a student in a sports writing class taught by Gary Pomerantz, who covered the Redskins for the Washington Post in the ‘80s. Pomerantz told me that he thinks women reporters have an effect on athletes that their male counterparts just don’t have. There is something about talking to a female reporter that makes a ball player open up a little more.
But how does that balance out with the times that female reporters have to deal with rude, intimidating and vulgar athletes? I know it’s a job and that stuff shouldn’t bother you, but when does it get to be too much to be a female in a male-dominated room? And profession?