That's because - and forgive us for sounding a bit fusty here - what's at issue here is not wholly a matter of legal rights or public policy. It's a matter of manners.
Yes, we recognize that the whole idea of what's polite and proper has virtually vanished from American society in general, and from the fields of professional sports and journalism in particular. But bear with us a moment, and think about this: What are the professional athletes and their coaches really complaining about here if it is not the fact that it is considered bad manners in our society for persons of one sex to come into an area where members of the other sex are changing or bathing? (Anyone who doubts this might try nipping into the changing room for members of the opposite sex next time they're at the health club.)
So, some may be saying, if this is a matter of etiquette then you must feel that lady reporters should stay out of gentlemen's locker rooms. Wrong. Such an incorrect leap indicates that one doesn't understand the true purpose of manners (and therefore doesn't realize why American society is so messed up these days).
The purpose of manners is to make people feel comfortable in what might otherwise be awkward situations. Common sense (along with court decisions) tell us that female reporters have to go into the locker room because that's where the post-game story is. The question then becomes how to allow them to do this in a way that will not be a violation of good manners.
This is not hard to do. Inquirer staff writer Diane Pucin had one perfectly good solution in her analysis of the situation last Sunday: "For one half hour after every game . . . the locker room in effect isn't a locker room. It is an office. And for that half hour every player remains at his locker and dressed. Then no one is uncomfortable."
It's simple. It's fair. And it's good manners. For those who feel it's improper to make a dirty, sweat-soaked athlete wait a half hour for a shower, well, the belated brainstorm of Bengals Coach Sam Wyche (i.e., give the players bathrobes) might suffice.