2010 was a banner year for controversy in the world of sports media. From the usual barrage of accidental profanity, to the fairly untrodden territory of Twitter faux pas, up to and including the cultural phenomenon that was athletes taking pictures of their penises and sending them to everybody, this year really did have it all if you enjoyed watching people make fools of themselves.
From now until December 30th we’ll be going through our favorite oopsies from the year that was. So come and join us, won’t you, as we count down the Top Ten Sports Media Gaffes of the Year! Today’s gaffe: reporter Ines Sainz takes a much-publicized trip to jets practice.
The New York Jets have been a bit inconsistent on the field this year, but off it, they’ve always been completely dependable…as a source of media firestorms. And while the foot fetish business got a lot of play, and the Sal Alosi tripping scandal led to plenty of outrage, but for sheer volume of (endless) coverage, nothing topped the saga of the team’s alleged treatment of attractive TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz.
The firestorm began at one of the worst possible times for the Jets – just as they were preparing for their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the reports started coming in that the team acted “like frat boys” around Sainz, who was there to try to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez, and an NFL investigation soon followed. Sainz also chimed in herself, saying she wasn’t wearing anything inappropriate that day that might have signaled she wasn’t serious about her job.
And from there, just about everyone else chimed in, too. There was the Fox News piece where Kevin Armstrong from the New York Daily News said he heard “hooting and hollering” directed at Sainz in the locker room. There was the Redskins’ Clinton Portis saying that if a woman is in a position to “look at 53 men’s packages,” then “she’s gonna want somebody.” There was Keith Olbermann, there was Glenn Beck, there was Rush Limbaugh. Really, there was just about everyone.
There was also Sainz, again, saying she actually didn’t have a huge problem with the Jets’ conduct:
“In my opinion, I never felt I was attacked, nor that [Jets were] being rude…I went to the locker room and started to talk about commentary and sports. Another reporter approached me to say he was sorry these things were happening…and that evidently people were making fun of me…In no moment, did I feel offended.”
Whether that was the complete truth or just n attempt to get the controversy to die down, as we noted at the time, the damage had already been done. Sure, it had it moments, like when the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins brought some much-needed sanity to the ruckus, but overall, this was not a story dominated by smart, well-thought-out opinions (see: this).
Ultimately, after a full week of Sainz dominating the news cycle, the NFL said the Jets wouldn’t be punished, though the controversy didn’t totally end there (hell, even Playboy tried to get involved before getting shot down by Sainz).
And with the Playboy issue resolved, this story appeared finally, mercifully over. But it had one desperate gasp at life left in it, and it used it up last month, when Anderson Group Public Relations sent out an email to many, many media outlets (ours included) informing us that Sainz would be reporting on the then-upcoming Manny Pacquiao–Antonio Margarito fight…while describing her in terms like “Mexico’s sexiest sports journalist,” which SI’s Richard Deitsch rightly called “overtly objectifying”…oh, and Sainz herself said, “I don’t even know why they would say that.”
It was probably a fitting end to this controversy: it started with Sainz being objectified, and ended with the same. In between, it wasn’t much better, and with the exception of Jenkins’ piece, didn’t do a whole lot except fill some potentially dead air. For a story like that to get this much coverage – and for the alleged behavior that inspired the story in the first place – the Inez Sainz controversy proudly stands among the most ridiculous items on this list.
The Top Ten Sports Media Gaffes Of 2010