ESPN has apologized for airing a segment by reporter Josina Anderson that focused on how members of the St. Louis Rams are dealing with showering with openly gay teammate Michael Sam. The report greatly angered Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who called it unethical.

"ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report," the network said in a statement Wednesday. "Clearly on Tuesday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports"

Anderson's report generated widespread criticism after its tone-deaf examination of whether Sam was showering with his teammates or waiting until later. She quoted one unnamed player as saying that Sam was "respecting their space" and that he "seemed to be waiting" to take a shower. This led Rams All-Pro lineman Chris Long to tweet: "Dear ESPN, everyone but you is over it."

The network first tried to justify its report, saying, "In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, the Rams brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting." However, that was not the tone of Andeson's report and she claimed only one player's sense of Sam's showering habits, not multiple players.
Fisher was very upset with the report, saying that Anderson "manufactured the story" and contacted players away from the team facility, which teams don't like. Here is part of what Fisher told Rams beat writer Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"I'm extremely disappointed in her piece," Fisher told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, not long before the team boarded buses for Lambert Airport and the trip to Miami for Thursday's preseason finale.
"I think it's unethical," Fisher continued. "I think it's very, very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. The manner in which she did it. We have a media policy, and we're very flexible. We have open practices. Players are available. We have open locker rooms.

"Obviously she came in, in all likelihood to see if there was gonna be a roster move at the 75 cutdown as it relates to Mike Sam. That didn't happen. But she needed to do something, and it's my understanding that she manufactured this story. She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time. Misled them with questions and then put this piece together."

The whole shower issue has been the most consistent stereotype associated with openly gay male athletes, implying that they would become crazed sex fiends once they see a teammate naked. Scott Cooper, a former college football player who was openly gay on his team, wrote about the reality:

"Imagine a big room that has sweaty, nasty workout clothes hanging everywhere, tape and other garbage lurking in corners, and a toilet area that doesn't exactly smell like roses. Definitely isn't the most romantic spot on earth. And when you get in the shower, all you think about is avoiding icy cold water, pee in the drains (don't lie, you do it too), and the backside of some offensive lineman that desperately needs bathing. When you get in the shower, ever muscle hurts, the water stings like hell on those turf burns, and your only focus is getting off that damn pre-tape wrap that is stuck to your skin. Just getting clean, getting dry, and putting on deodorant are your only top priorities. Does it sound like a porno scene? No? That's because it's not."

ESPN never should have aired the segment in the first place. The Rams players have handled Sam's openness much better than some in the media.