By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

Can we talk? Seriously, can we hold a mature, adult conversation today? There are things going on in the sports world that we need to discuss, but we can only do it if we agree up front to be mature about it.

Maybe you've heard about Karrine Steffans, the controversial best-selling author? Before she penned "Confessions of a Video Vixen," Ms. Steffans was best known in the sports and hip-hop worlds by a vulgar nickname.

Her tell-all book has received a solid review in the prestigious Washington Post, partly because Ms. Steffans talks openly about her groupie sexcapades with Shaquille O'Neal, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Usher and many, many others.

Ms. Steffans, now 26, has become a respected member of the literary community, and the apple of HBO talker Bill Maher's affection. Seriously, she's dating Mr. Bill. And, yes, I'm sure former President Clinton is jealous.

What's interesting about Ms. Steffans is that she's putting a new twist on being a groupie.

Karrine Steffans
Karrine Steffans turns the tables with her kiss-and-tell book.

"I am groupie; hear me roar!" is what Ms. Steffans' message seems to be, and what her success seems to state. She's on a book-signing tour now, and developing quite a reputation as a speaker.

You go, girl.

Superstar male athletes and entertainers have been sexually exploiting young, impressionable women for a long time. In some circles, they're celebrated for it. So those celebrated male athletes and entertainers can't cry now about one opportunistic woman who has chosen to use her looks, as well as her communication skills (oral and written), to exploit men.

The game has changed. Carrie Bradshaw and the "Sex and the City" gang helped liberate many young women. Pretty much, they've reserved the right by now to be as sexually irresponsible as some men are; and apparently, they don't feel the need to lie about it. In fact, just like many men, they've reserved the right to tell as many people as they want.

I'm not going to debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I just want to deal with the reality: In this context, a woman's sexual moral values can be just as low as the ones traditionally exhibited by many males in the sports and entertainment world.

Which brings me to Carolyn Hughes, the Fox Sports Net anchor who has been indefinitely suspended from her job while Fox investigates whether she's having an affair with Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe.

Lowe's wife, Trinka, and Hughes' husband, Tommy Samboni (who is in the process of divorcing Hughes), have been all over Los Angeles radio stations blabbing about the alleged Hughes-Lowe affair. The Los Angeles Times and Boston Herald both confirmed that Hughes has been suspended pending the investigation. Until the suspension, Hughes hosted the Dodgers' pre- and post-game shows. According to Trinka and Tommy, she started hooking up with Lowe during spring training.

Tommy also alleges that his soon-to-be ex previously maintained warm and fuzzy, late-night (and platonic) telephone relationships with Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.

Why do I bring this up?

Because for a long time, the myth has existed that female sports reporters are able to conduct themselves inside a male team's locker room more professionally than men could do inside a women's locker room. And that's stupid.

I repeat: A woman's sexual moral values can be just as low as a man's.

Male reporters, generally speaking, don't have unfettered access to women's locker rooms. The reason is simple and obvious: For the most part, we're perverted scum. We couldn't handle it. Turned loose inside a locker room with Serena and Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova bouncing in and out of showers ... well, deadlines would be missed. All hell would break loose.

Women don't belong in male locker rooms.

That's not to suggest eliminating women from the locker room would do away with potential problems like the one Derek and Trinka Lowe are experiencing. It wouldn't. Adultery is rampant in every workplace.

A rule that prohibits women from entering locker rooms is the right thing to do. The absolute right thing to do is to ban all reporters from locker rooms. The place where men shower and shave -- the bathroom, essentially -- is no place to be conducting interviews in the first place. It's an outdated notion. And when TV networks send their perfectly made up, beautifully dressed reporters into a locker room filled with naked sex symbols, they're creating sexual tension and courting potential conflicts of interest.

Yeah, I know female sports reporters are a beacon of morality and professionalism. So are priests and presidents and Jimmy Swaggert. So come on, let's be honest. We don't send men into women's locker rooms, because the expectations for male behavior are extremely low when it comes to any situation that involves female nudity.

Given all that we know now, why do we have higher expectations for women? They're no better than we are.

A male locker room is the equivalent of a strip club. It's a breeding ground for sexual immorality. It's a place where guys come up with, or get peer-pressured into, their most idiotic thoughts and ideas about women.

Sending a woman to spring training or an NFL training camp is the equivalent of sending a soldier off to war. Only the lucky (or uninterested) come back unscathed.

I know, I know, I know. Carolyn Hughes is just one woman. She doesn't represent all female sports reporters. I know many very professional, very talented female sports reporters. But I've also seen quite a bit of unprofessional behavior in 15 years as a sports writer. I've seen it from male reporters getting too close to young female athletes, and I've seen it from female reporters getting too close to male athletes.

Maybe I should write a tell-all book, "Confessions of a Sports Writer Who Wants Some Quality Locker-Room Time With Danica Patrick."

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at Jason can be reached by e-mail at

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