Female Sports Reporters in the Locker Room

Today’s Smile is in honour of Women’s History Month.

On this Day:

In 1979, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered baseball to give equal access to female reporters. Ah, sounds magnanimous, but there was a little matter of a successful lawsuit before this came to pass…

Bowie Kent Kuhn (October 28, 1926 – March 15, 2007) was an American lawyer and sports administrator who served as the fifth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from February 4, 1969, to September 30, 1984. He served as legal counsel for Major League Baseball owners for almost 20 years prior to his election as commissioner.

Kuhn was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Melissa Ludtke (born May 27, 1951) was an American journalist. In 1978, as a young sports journalist, Ludtke won a lawsuit for the right to be allowed in Major League Baseball locker rooms.

Early life

Ludtke was born in Iowa City, Iowa, but grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was the oldest of five children. Her father worked at the University of Massachusetts where he taught finance, and her mother earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Ludtke attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History.


Ludtke always had a passion for sports, and upon graduation, she began working for ABC Sports and Sports Illustrated.

Ludtke was a writer and editor for the Nieman Reports magazine of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism from 1998 to 2011. She then served as the Executive Director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University from 2011 to 2013. Before her editor job at the Nieman Foundation, she had been a correspondent with Time magazine and a reporter/researcher with Sports Illustrated and with CBS News.

In July 2013, Ludtke was featured in Let Them Wear Towels, a short documentary on females working in male locker rooms by Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern.

Court case against Major League Baseball

Ludtke was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit, Melissa Ludtke and Time, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. Bowie Kuhn, Commissioner of Baseball et al. (1978) that is credited with giving equal access to Major League Baseball locker rooms to women sports reporters. In 1977, Ludtke sued the baseball commission on the basis that her 14th amendment rights were violated when she was denied access to the New York Yankees clubhouse while reporting on the 1977 World Series. She won the lawsuit. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York stated her fourteenth amendment right was violated since the New York Yankees clubhouse was controlled by New York City. That court also stated that her fundamental right to pursue a career was violated based on her sex.

When asked how the case, Ludtke vs. Kuhn, has impacted journalism she said “It increased enormously the number of young women who came into sports media — as reporters, as employees of sports teams and league offices, in agencies representing athletes and in other aspects of sports work that earlier generations of women had not been involved with, such as working as team trainers or as umpires.” (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What do you get if you cross a sports reporter with a vegetable?

A common tater…

Second, a Song:

Next9News states on YouTube.com: ‘A viewer named Tim asks: “”Why is it alright for women to go into the men’s locker room to get interviews when they aren’t properly dressed? …until men can go in and do locker room smut interviews, this practice should be viewed as sexual misconduct. Thanks Kyle. I’m sure you will make mention of this as you seem to hold no punches.” ‘

Here is Next9News’s response to this question. I hope you enjoy this.


Thought for the Day:

“The greatest compliment I ever got was when Matt Guokas, the coach of the Orlando Magic, was telling a story. He swore and one of the guys said, ‘Hey, Matt,’ and pointed at me. Guokas said, ‘What? It’s Jackie!’ He came up to me later and said, ‘I hope you weren’t offended, I just consider you one of the guys.’ That was the greatest compliment.” – Jackie MacMullan

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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