Friday, September 17, 2010

Details Matter: Epilogue

I'm sure there will be a gazillion articles written about the letter the NFL sent out proclaiming that they were forcing all 32 teams to go through "proper conduct in the workplace" seminars in response to the Ines Sainz incident. For the most part I'm sure these articles will focus on whether the punishment was fair and or adequate. But that's not what I'm going to focus on.

I'm going to focus on the questions I asked in my previous post about this incident because now we have some answers about what actually did and maybe more importantly, did not happen to Sainz.

Here are the final four paragraphs of the letter NFL sent out outlining the new "proper conduct in the work place" programs and they focus on the fruits of the NFL's investigation into what actually occurred.

» "Regarding last Saturday's practice, while there seems little doubt that passes were thrown in Sainz's direction at last Saturday's practice, it is also clear that she was never bumped, touched, brushed against, or otherwise subjected to any physical contact by any player or coach. Sainz herself was unequivocal in saying both that no physical contact occurred, and that no player or other Jets staff member made any comment or gesture that could be construed as threatening, demeaning or offensive."

» "As far as the locker room, Sainz explained that her postings on Twitter while in the locker room reflected her general lack of comfort in that setting, and were not related to any specific act, comment or gesture directed to her by any member of the Jets organization. She also advised in her interviews that she had not seen or heard any catcalls, sexually explicit or offensive comments or gestures directed at her, and did not believe she was subjected to any improper conduct. She was able to obtain the interview with Mark Sanchez and was quite satisfied with her conversation with him. She did not believe that the activity in the locker room interfered with her ability to do her job (namely, obtaining an interview with Sanchez), and did not identify any member of the Jets organization who did anything that was in her view improper. That being noted, Sainz did state that the locker room environment "could have been better."

» "Sainz's public remarks were consistent with her comments to NFL Security. For example, on September 13, she gave a televised interview on TV Azteca, in which she said, "I want to assure you that at no time did I feel offended, nor at risk, or in any danger. Simply it was a situation that comes from the natural context. I want to say that in my perception at no point did I feel attacked nor did I feel that there were gross things going on around me." At another point, she said, "It was definitely a joking tone, very amicable. I wasn't offended."

Other reporters who were in the locker room described the atmosphere as "juvenile, immature, high school," but "not over the top." Others agreed that the atmosphere was not hostile, that no obscene or lewd comments or gestures were made and that nobody had physical contact with Sainz, that Sainz did not appear concerned, disturbed or troubled by what was going on around her, and that nobody had difficulty doing his or her job, but also described the atmosphere in the locker room as "unprofessional, uncomfortable, and disappointing."

It turns out that at the end of the day the NFL investigation showed that Sainz was not harassed nor was she was not subjected to "obscene or lewd comments or gestures". Moreover there was clarification on the one consistent element of the story, that of the footballs being thrown in her direction, so that the NFL is now assured that "she was never bumped, touched, brushed against, or otherwise subjected to any physical contact by any player or coach".

So after almost a week, what were we arguing about again?

Oh I know as the week went on people got sucked into a bunch of extraneous arguments about Sainz's dress and the appropriateness of women in the locker room, but that, to me, was never the fundamental conversation to be had here from the get go. Instead the much less discussed, but definitely in my mind more important conversation was always about what had actually occurred and was it harassment. Thankfully now we have the answer to those questions, but the question is how many people will even notice.

I'll be willing to bet you that if people are still talking about this a week from now they will continue to ASSume Sainz was sexually harassed. I'll also bet you that the overwhelming articles written about this subject going forward will focus on the NFL's reaction to the incident rather than what was shown to have happened, and what was shown not to have happened.

About the only thing we gleaned from the results of the investigation is that the there was some "immature" or "juvenile" behavior in the locker room. NEWSFLASH the locker room is not a Wall Street board room.  Whether journalists of either sex are in the locker room or not "immature" and "juvenile" behavior happens there all the time.  Guys are loud, obnoxious, they play games, sometimes fight, sometimes haze, all in the confines of most locker rooms.  So forgive me if those characterizations of the behavior in the Jets locker room don't surprise me nor disappoint me.  It never was about whether guys were sitting straight up, facing straight ahead and speaking in library tones.  It was about whether or not they harassed a female reporter, and its pretty apparent they did not.

The funniest part is some in the media will use this very letter as "confirmation" that the players did something wrong even though it pretty much proves the exact opposite of that.  But you had to know the NFL couldn't not be pro active on this issue, especially with a pending lockout.  The sensitivity training pretty much had to happen no matter what they found.

In the meantime players on 32 teams will have to go through some type of training because of some harassment that the NFL themselves say never happened.

Gotta love it...

1 comment:

  1. From what I can see, Ms Sainz enjoys the attention that that quite nice bod affords her. Why it doesn't surprise me that the Commish will over react is anyone's guess. Oh wait, he over reacts to most things. (or in the case of Calvin Johnson sits on his hands)