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July 31, 1992 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-07-31

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Continued from preceding page

Shabbat services at her
aunt's synagogue — one of
only two remaining in
Havana — where her father
became bar mitzvah. The hus-
band of her grandfather's
sister led the service.
"Basically all that's left is a
basement of what was a
three-story synagogue,"
Kaufman said. "They're
lucky if they get 10 to 12
people (for services). It's just
very old people."
Kaufman said her Cuban
relatives, like most Cubans,
are desperate for food and
money. "They would like to
get out now, but it's really
hard for them." Now, Kauf-
man corresponds regularly
with her cousin, Dalia,
although Dalia rarely gets
her letters. "Every time she
writes, she wants me to
write about some relative.
`Tell me about cousin Sonia
in Minneapolis. Tell me
about cousin Amy in Wash-
ington.' She wants to know
about our family. That's
what really kills me.
"The bottom line is my
family is in jail over there
. . . We're 90 miles from Cuba.
90 miles from my parents'
house to that house I was in
in Cuba."
Kaufman cut her teeth as
a reporter with the St.
Petersburg Times where she
covered professional football
and the Tampa Bay Bucca-
neers. She was there three
years, fighting to solidify her
rights to enter hot, smelly,
and cramped player locker
So how does a nice Jewish
girl end up in men's locker
rooms? The answer can be
found back at Killian High
School in Miami where
Kaufman showed talent and
flashes of courage as editor
of her high school news-
paper's opinion page. The
position proved a powerful
vent for her strong opinions.
In her first experience
writing about sports, Kauf-
man's editorial on Killian's
head football coach triggered
an investigation, which
resulted in his ouster. The
football team was 33-3 dur-
ing Kaufman's three years
at Killian, she said, but the
coach showed no interest in
helping the players get
scholarships. "The coach's
primary concern in high
school sports is to get these
kids to colleges," she said,
"but he would just throw the
letters (from inquiring col-
lege athletic directors) in the
garbage can."
There are now quite a few
female sportswriters, but
few have the gumption to
cover "the big male sports"
(as Kaufman calls baseball,

football, basketball and
hockey). "They (female
reporters) are much more
comfortable covering tennis
and golf where there is no
locker room situation,"
Kaufman said. "But the only
way you get respect in our
business is by doing these
four major sports."
At the University of
Miami, Kaufman covered
the football team as well as
the Miami Dolphins as a
special correspondent for the
St. Petersburg Times. Upon
graduation in 1987, Kauf-
man moved into a job cover-
ing college football that was
waiting for her at the Times.
After only a year, Kauf-
man was asked to cover the
Buccaneers. "I thought to
myself, 'I'm not ready to
cover the NFL (National
Football League). I'm only
23, and one year out of col-
lege.' "
But her editors challenged
her. "They told me,
`Covering the NFL is no diff-
erent than covering
anything else. You have to
have eyes and a nose for

There are now
quite a few female
sportswriters, but
few have the
gumption to cover
"the big male
baseball, football,
basketball and

news, and you have to be a
good interviewer. It doesn't
matter if you're interview-
ing a college or pro player.' "
Covering both college and
pro football put Kaufman
in the uncomfortable posi-
tion of being the only woman
among up to 200 men, in-
cluding players and
reporters, in the players'
locker rooms. But the locker
rooms are where the inter-
views are, including the
mood and color so important
to a reporter. So despite her
discomfort, Kaufman press-
ed her case.
Two years ago, Lisa Olson,
a reporter for the Boston
Herald, became the center of
the controversy on locker
room access after she com-
plained about a New
England Patriots football
player who exposed himself
to her.
"It got the most atten-
tion," Kaufman said, "but
every woman in the business
I know has gone through
similar things. You have
people corning in the locker
room and dancing around


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