WOMEN NOT WELCOME
Many of the barriers facing women sportswriters have fallen, but at least two have not. They are named Jack Morris and Bo Schembechler.
Morris, the Detroit Tiger pitcher, behaved inexcusably before a recent game at Tiger Stadium when Jennifer Frey, a sportswriter intern for the Detroit Free Press, approached him to get some comments for a story on baseball's latest collusion ruling. Before Frey could get out a question, Morris, who was wearing only sliding shorts, snapped, "I don't talk to people when I'm naked, especially women, unless they're on top of me or I'm on top of them." Frey turned and left.
Free Press publisher Neal Shine wrote Schembechler, the Tigers' team president, to complain about Morris's conduct. Schembechler sent back a letter stating that Morris's treatment of Frey was "out of line but predictable," considering that "your intern watched men from 20 to 65 years of age undress and dress for more than half an hour without asking questions." As if that innuendo weren't insulting enough, Schembechler continued, "Your sports editor's lack of common sense in sending a female college intern in a men's clubhouse caused the problem. I really wouldn't doubt that the whole thing was a scam orchestrated by you people to create a story.... [R]est assured no female member of my family would be inside a men's locker room regardless of their job description."
Frey, who has worked at the Free Press since graduating from Harvard last spring, says that she had gone into the Tigers' locker room to talk to the subject of a feature she was writing, Tiger catcher Mike Heath, who hadn't shown up for a scheduled pregame interview with her in the dugout. After waiting in vain for Heath to come out of the shower, she decided to approach Morris.
As courts have noted, women reporters would be at a considerable disadvantage if denied the locker-room access their male counterparts enjoy. "What upsets me the most is that this proves there is a big problem for women even after we've won the legal right to be in the locker room," says Frey. "We think we've won the battle, but we haven't."
A HAPPY CAMPER
"When I was seven I asked my father why he gave me the name," says University of Kansas offensive coordinator Golden Ruel. "He said it was a choice between that and Slide." Ruel, who sometimes goes by his middle name, Pat, seems to have inherited his father's offbeat humor. When the Jayhawk football team begins two-a-day drills this week, Ruel will pitch a tent on the practice field near the tackling dummies and move in. He plans to spend his nights there until shortly before Kansas's Sept. 1 season opener against Virginia.
"Fall camp is tough, and there has to be something you can laugh at," says Ruel, who has already persuaded a few school officials to join him for a night apiece. "It's my way of telling the players, 'Hey, fellas, I'm willing to tough it out with you.' "
Ruel's four-year-old daughter, Sabra, doesn't understand why her dad is moving out. Ruel's wife, Marti, says her husband is just being predictably unpredictable. "I think he's crazy," she says. "But he's a very creative and committed coach. I hope that while he's sleeping under the stars, he dreams up some great offensive plays. I also hope that when he calls home late in the evening, he doesn't expect room service."