My tape started a bit late because when Tom Soehn came out to talk to the media, I thought the locker room was finally open. Usually, when the coach comes out or starts talking to the media, the locker room is officially open for reporters. Deciding player quotes were more important, even though I wanted to ask Soehn stuff, I tried to enter. Instead, I was stonewalled at the door - "The locker room still isn't open."
Then I joined the circle around Soehn, off to one side in the hallway. Busy with the questions, I didn't realize at first that players were leaving while the coach was being interviewed, then I happened to glance over my shoulder and realized that the departing black polo shirts were all the guys we'd been waiting to talk with for so long. I broke away from Soehn and tried to get Marcelo Gallardo to stop. No luck.
Technically, the DC locker room never was declared open for the press, unless one counts it as open when the entire team has already left.
I can sympathize to a certain extent with DC - the players were no doubt upset and emotion is evident in Soehn's voice, but I've also witnessed many teams lose tough games. Almost every one is still professional enough to still comply with their press obligations. Heck, last night I was watching NBA Jazz coach Jerry Sloan do a in-game interview while his team was struggling, which I'm sure he'd prefer not to do, but he did anyway.
In this case, it wasn't one upset player declining interviews. It was an institutional move to keep all the media out and make our job far more difficult. It was also conducted in a rather underhand manner - at no point were we told that we wouldn't have media access to the locker room. So when Marc Burch left early, for example, most of the reporters didn't stop him. We don't usually do hallway interviews with players. It's too noisy, and players at that point just want to get on the bus. Steve Goff talked to Marc, but the rest of us waited in front of the locker room like good little sheep, expecting patience to eventually be rewarded. Seriously, though, if some DC bigshot decided, "Forget it, no press in the locker room," they should have manned up and told us that. #1, the deadline people could have left. #2, the rest of us could start asking the players who were willing to answer questions in the hallway. Instead, if we're continually told, "Not yet," there's an implied, "eventually you'll get in" that once it doesn't happen seems rather dishonest, disrespectful and unprofessional.