Robin Herman, who forced open doors in the NHL, dies at 70


Equal access to the locker room did not become the norm in the NHL for about a decade, with the Toronto Maple Leafs being the league’s only impediment until 1987. Team owner Harold Ballard, even went so far as to ban all reporters from the locker room rather than being forced to admit female sports reporters. He once said that women would be allowed in if they took off their clothes before asking questions.

Robin Cathy Herman was born on November 24, 1951 in New York City and grew up in Port Washington, Long Island. Her father, Sidney, owned a hat factory and later taught business law at the New York Institute of Technology. His mother, Mildred (Gold) Herman, was a sculptor.

Ms Herman entered Princeton University in 1969 as part of its first class of undergraduates and joined the campus newspaper, The Daily Princetonian. There, each new reporter was to be given both a news and a sports beat, but the editors had assumed Ms Herman would not want to cover sports and so gave her only a news assignment.

“It felt unfair to me,” she told the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 2013. “It was really a knee-jerk,” she added, to speak up to cover the sport.

She volunteered to write about rugby, then covered men’s squash, men’s tennis and football.

After graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English, she was hired as a clerk in the sports department of The Times and was soon promoted to journalist. Before being assigned to the Islanders, she wrote about tennis, sailing and horse racing.

In the ESPN documentary, she recalled hate mail about female sportswriters entering locker rooms and men’s clubs.

“It’s hard to talk to a prostitute disguised as a journalist,” it read in part, “but I just want to warn you that you can’t do such a thing with impunity.” It’s wrong, no matter how many free women would foolishly applaud it.


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