The Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and six other groups of sportswriters have issued a joint statement calling on the league bodies they cover not to 'unnecessarily' restrict locker room access as everybody is taking big precautions against the spread of the Coronavirus. Here's the statement:
We the entities covering pro and college sports in North America are concerned with the developing international outbreak of coronavirus and the need to contain it. We understand precautions may be necessary in the name of public health. We are intent on working with the leagues, teams and schools we cover to maintain safe work environments. We also must ensure the locker room access — which we have negotiated over decades — to players, coaches and staff is not unnecessarily limited in either the short or long term. We look forward to open communication with the leagues as, together, we deal with this serious health matter.
Todd M. Adams, President, Associated Press Sports Editors
Bob Glauber, President, Pro Football Writers of America
Kevin Laramee, President, North American Soccer Reporters
Malcolm Moran, Executive Director, United States Basketball Writers Association
Josh Robbins, President, Professional Basketball Writers Association
Frank Seravalli, President, Professional Hockey Writers Association
Paul Sullivan, President, Baseball Writers Association of America
This statement comes as the NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS have taken steps to restrict locker room access to media. As this news has felt inevitable, there've been debates between sportswriters about how important locker room access really is.
"Many sports journalists will disagree, but I honestly don’t think we ever need to be in a locker room," SI soccer writer Grant Wahl tweeted over the weekend. "Doing mixed-zone postgame interviews with the USWNT outside their locker room has never been a problem." Read the replies for the counterpoints -- there's a sense among many that this is the home of the most genuine reactions to help the media tell their stories, and restricting access to where the athletes and coaches are when emotions are most raw will inherently water down coverage.
There's some probably-legitimate concern amongst sportswriters that teams and leagues are going to use this Coronavirus concern as a trojan horse to later ban them from locker room access forever. For me personally this result wouldn't really be the end of the world but it's also a situation where I can see the other side.