New York Times Magazine (February 3, 2008)
The first time I walked into an N.F.L. locker room — the locker room of the New York Giants, as it happens — I was shocked by how little effort went into making me feel as if I didn’t belong. I’d grown used to baseball locker rooms, where the players’ edginess made outsiders feel instantly unwelcome and rendered useful human interaction all but impossible. In their private sanctums, baseball players behave as if someone might walk in at any moment and ask them to leave; they’re a bit like starving dogs who have just stumbled upon a slab of raw meat. Not all of them, of course — the effect is atmospheric, produced by the sum of the personalities. Give 25 professional baseball players a place to call their own and they give it a forbidding name: clubhouse. If you aren’t a member, you don’t belong.