Clinton Portis on Women Sports Writers

Photo courtesy of
‘Clinton Portis’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’

What started out as a run-of-the-mill Tuesday conversation with Redskins running back Clinton Portis on D.C. sports radio’s 106.7 The Fan has now been immortalized by Dan Steinberg via the Sports Bog as another example of male chauvinism in D.C. sports.

During The Mike Wise show at 10:30 this morning, Portis offered his opinion regarding the buzz currently circulating female reporter Ines Sainz. Sainz has made headlines in recent days due to the NFL investigating a complaint filed by the Association of Women in Sports Media on behalf of Sainz who claims that members of the New York Jets harassed her on the field and in the locker room when she visited their practice facility to do a story on their quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The matter is still under review according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen who received word from a league spokesman, but in the meantime Mr. Portis offered his two cents:

“You know man, I think you put women reporters in the locker room in positions to see guys walking around naked, and you sit in the locker room with 53 guys, and all of the sudden you see a nice woman in the locker room, I think men are gonna tend to turn and look and want to say something to that woman. For the woman, I think they make it so much that you can’t interact and you can’t be involved with athletes, you can’t talk to these guys, you can’t interact with these guys.

“And I mean, you put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her. You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she’s gonna want somebody. I don’t know what kind of woman won’t, if you get to go and look at 53 men’s packages. And you’re just sitting here, saying ‘Oh, none of this is attractive to me.’ I know you’re doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I’m gonna cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I’m sure they do the same thing.”

As a sports reporter who just so happens to be a woman, I have to say that going to a game and talking to the players is viewed as a job. It has never been an opportunity to ogle “somebody who sparks my interest” in the moment. There are plenty of female faces in press boxes and on the sidelines these days who treat their work in the field as their top priority as a professional.

Maybe in the future Mr. Portis will take time to remember that the women with a recorder and notepad are doing a job and not looking to book a date.

Update as of 3:56 p.m.: Portis issued an apology through the Redskins for his off-the-cuff remarks made on 106.7 The Fan this morning:

“I was wrong to make the comments I did, and I apologize. I respect the job that all reporters do. It is a tough job and we all have to work and act in a professional manner. I understand and support the team on these issues.”

Here’s the upside to all of this — The Redskins and Portis responded way faster than the Nationals and MASN Sports when an ex-Reds relief pitcher turned broadcaster alienated half the Nationals fan base in August with his remarks on live television. Then again, Portis’ comments were regarding women in the media while the comments toward the Nationals regarding women were based on fans seen in the stands during a game.

In either case though, the bottom line is that this might be the 21st century, but women still experience a double-standard in the work place and elsewhere on a daily basis no matter if they’re acting in a professional manner or not.

The comments made by Portis this morning only draws attention to that fact.

Rachel moved to DC in the fall of 2005 to study Journalism and Music at American University. When she’s not keeping up with the latest Major League Baseball news, she works on making music as an accomplished singer-songwriter and was even a featured performer/speaker at TEDxDupont Circle in 2012. Rachel has also contributed to The Washington Examiner and MASN Sports’ Nationals Buzz as a guest blogger. See why she loves DC. E-Mail:

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16 thoughts on “Clinton Portis on Women Sports Writers

  1. Portis likes to run his mouth, how is this news? Whats ridiculous and really you as a female reporter should be most offended at is that this Sainz woman is even considered a reporter. She is a sideshow and her job is entirely to look good and ask stupid questions. Maybe direct some of your sarcasm at her.

  2. Portis is clearly just rationalizing sexual harassment, like unfortunately too many men do. And JDP, regardless of Sainz’ qualifications, no one has the right to sexually harass her. And most male sportswriters spend all their time asking stupid questions too, so there’s hardly a gender dynamic to that. I think you’re trying to avoid the real issue by bringing that up anyway.

  3. The quality of Ms. Sainz’ reporting is not the issue. She may or may not be a good reporter, but that in no way entitles professional athletes, paid to do a job that includes interacting with members of the media, to engage in acts of harassment against her.

    The story here is that Portis is joining in the culture of victim-blaming. While it’s true that casual misogyny from sports figures is not especially shocking, it does still deserve to be called out for what it is.

  4. When Sainz goes to the Super Bowl media day and rubs up on players and measures their biceps she is the one sexualizing herself. Her job is not to be a reporter but rather a chick in a skimpy outfit. She was not at Jets camp to report on anything about the Jets but rather to be seen. I’m simply unsurprised that Portis and probably athletes in general don’t treat women with respect in a locker room setting. Sainz is not a sportswriter, so stop referring to her as one, shes a bimbo.

  5. Sainz manufactured this whole controversy and is laughing about it right now. She doesn’t care and neither do I. Go have your righteous indignation somewhere else.

  6. Why should we have our righteous indignation somewhere else? Last I checked, this was our blog… You’re welcome to disagree, but it’s a little ridiculous to try to kick us off our own site.

  7. I mean out of sports. You’re holding these players to a standard of Dungy-like proportions. They are young, they are hot headed, get over it.

  8. Your assertion that it was all about provocation is undermined by the Portis quote Tiff has provided here – an assertion that hell, she’s a woman in there among these fine, handsome examples of men: of COURSE she’s hot for at least one of them! It’s pure biology and numbers!

    So hey, since that’s the case why not treat her like some chickie in a bar who is for sure just twitching with eagerness to come home with you… rather than as someone doing their job?

    I think the role women (are required to?) play in television sports coverage is often obnoxious and counter to the goals of an equal society, but you know what? Tough shit for the rest of us who should still act like proper folks.

    I see a sad number of young women who are dressed inappropriately in situations where it makes it hard to tell them from “working girls” but that doesn’t make me less of a douchebag if I offer them $20 to blow me. Low-cut shirts with the goodies on display doesn’t make me less of a jerk if I stare at them during a conversation rather than look them in the eye.

    That kind of excuse making is the grown-up (at least in age, if not in actions) version of “he started it!” You can roll that way if you like but don’t think it’s not going to get you talked about like the sleaze you are acting like.

    Which you should be cool with. After all, you think it’s cool to talk about those women reporters like cock-teases, right?

  9. Your assertion that shes a sports reporter flies in the face of everything she is. She is a bimbo on spanish tv. Done and done. She shouldn’t be given any type of serious coverage because she is a clown who parades herself around. Now if she was ACTUALLY sexually harassed that would be one thing. But this type of conduct was probably not even noticed by her.

  10. Not noticed to the point where she filed a complaint about it in direct opposition to her career goals.

    Here’s the thing- football players largely ARE young hotheads, paid mind-boggling quantities of money in a field that rewards on-field performance that would be considered incredibly aggressive and violent in any other context. But that’s exactly why we should *not* excuse poor behavior toward women.

    Failure to hold an athlete’s feet to the fire over his behavior toward women is what enabled Ben Roethlisberger to get himself into the trouble he’s in. This is why players have coaches, families, older players who have gotten their heads on straight, and entourages who are supposed to keep them out of trouble. This is Clinton Portis’ way of telling us what he thinks about women; we would be fools to ignore it until he gets caught acting on the opinions he just finished telling us he holds.

  11. To be fair to Portis, I don’t think this is an example of male chauvinism. Rather, I think it’s an exercise in excusing poor judgment. He cites both sexes as likely (in his mind) to fall into the same trap.

  12. First of all, Portis is dumb for what he said. Second of all, the media and the people who pay Sainz’s paychecks as well as general society are also to blame because they are fulfilling the role of sexual promiscuity by asking her to dress the way she dresses just to get ratings. I am not saying that the actions of the Jets or what Portis said should be excused because of this fact. What I am saying is that there are two sides to this conversation that need to be addressed:
    1) Society demands sex on television, even if it is an attractive woman giving an interview “asking stupid questions.”
    2) Athletes need to uphold gentlemanly behavior at all times; on and off the field because they represent that team and that sport and all athletes when they say something.

    Both 1 and 2 were in play here and as such, we need to keep them in mind with this discussion. We should ask producers to suggest that women in sports journalism dress in a fashion that is “professional.” Something we would wear to an office setting, perhaps. For sports athletes to either clear what they would like to say with a PR professional or perhaps take a moment and think about what they are going to say if it involves a controversial issue.

    At least that is my two cents. Both sides need to own up to their inadequacies in this instance.

  13. I don’t disagree with you about professional demeanor and dress, Will. I just don’t think it matters in this context. To even say we need to discussion 1 because of 2 implies that it excuses it in any way, which it doesn’t.

  14. I sometimes get lost in the nuances of “double standard” discussions, but, like most reporters (and athletes, and professionals of either sex) I do understand the concept “behave or be gone.”

    That’s a single standard, and an easy one to understand and enforce, which may explain why Portis ate his words so quickly. Not too much nuance there when you get down to it, nor should there have been.