Hastings Journal on Gender and the Law


Professional sports are big business in the United States, and so perhaps it is no surprise that reporters from magazines, newspapers, and television shows and networks flock to pro locker rooms and practice fields to interview the players and coaches. The situation can become a bit more complex when the person on the other end of the microphone is a woman. Female sportswriters often find themselves as targets for sexual harassment and lewd behavior. This Note considers the possible legal options that sportswriters may have when they are victimized by the athletes and coaches they are charged with reporting on. However, because a showing of severity or pervasiveness is necessary to state a claim, most reporters' experiences fall short of the requirements for a Title VII sexual harassment suit. While various tort claims may provide for recovery, this Note proposes that a far better solution could come from the teams and organizations themselves. All professional sports leagues can and should develop comprehensive media policies that clearly set forth behavioral expectations, both of the players and the media. Teams should undergo training specifically tailored to the unique circumstances of professional sports, and a combination of meaningful fines plus suspensions should be the consequence for players that engage in inappropriate behavior.