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Our view: Women sports reporters still having trouble doing their job

It's ironic that NFL quarterback Cam Newton's sexist remark to a female reporter came the day after an example of exceptional sportscasting by ESPN's Jessica Mendoza.

Here in Minnesota Twins country, we witnessed the professionalism of Mendoza, who provided color commentary during the Twins' 8-4 loss last week to the Yankees in the American League wild-card game.

Mendoza, a former standout softball player at Stanford, became ESPN's first female analyst for a Major League Baseball game in 2015. In 2016, she joined ESPN's prime-time team, working the network's Sunday Night Baseball franchise.

And last week during the Twins game, she was excellent — insightful, knowledgeable and clever. Her professional ability is the only thing that matters. Her gender, of course, does not.

Yet for some, that's still tough to comprehend.

During a postgame press conference last week, Newton was asked by Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue a very specific question about his team's passing routes.

His answer: "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes."

Oh, Cam. That's such a childish, backward comment. It's time to come to grips with reality — and the 21st century.

Women sports reporters have had a tough go. As recently as 1978, women were banned from most locker rooms via policies approved by organizations such as Major League Baseball.

In the 1980s, famous baseball player Reggie Jackson tormented women reporters, allegedly intentionally exposing himself and haranguing them. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Lisa Saxon said she was consistently victimized.

In 1990, several New England Patriots sexually harassed—both visually and verbally—a woman reporter. When that became public, other women reporters came forth and shared similar stories.

As recently as 2015, two women were kept out of the Jacksonville Jaguars locker room after a game.

Trust us: Locker rooms aren't always the best work environment for reporters—men and women alike. But it's where quotes are born, stories are generated and deadlines are beat. If male reporters are allowed in, female reporters must be, too. And when there, they deserve equal treatment.

We assumed we were finally past all this. Mendoza's reporting during the Twins game gave us hope. Newton ruined it the next day with his comment to Rodrigue.

It will cost him. He already has endorsements falling away, including a national yogurt company. And the NFL issued a statement saying his "comments are just plain wrong and disrespectful" and "do not reflect the thinking of the league."

Well, NFL. Do something about it.

The Herald does not, at the moment, have a full-time woman sports reporter. But if we do in the future, and if she is treated like that, we won't take it lightly.

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