New Jersey’s Bergen Record reporter Tara Sullivan covered the Masters this weekend. She was there because, well, it was her job.Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it?To the Augusta National Golf Club, it apparently didn’t. To Masters staffers, Sullivan must have been a woman out of place, following golfer Rory McIlroy into the locker room after the conclusion of the tournament’s final round Sunday. When McIlroy proceeded into Augusta’s locker room, so did the throng of reporters following him, looking for quotes from one of the top stories of the day.McIlroy entered Sunday as the tournament’s leader, but after shooting an 80 in the final round, that was long gone. His collapse matched the biggest for a 54-hole leader since 1956, and despite Tiger Woods’ remarkable resurgence and Charl Schwartzel capturing his first green jacket, McIlroy was still a huge story.In a column on the Record’s website, NorthJersey.com, Sullivan detailed how when McIlroy entered the locker room, a female security officer told Sullivan she wasn’t allowed in. Sullivan said instead of disrupting her colleagues, she sought out an official Masters representative. Unsuccessful, she then asked the security guard for more clarification. The guard said Sullivan wasn’t allowed in because there was an open bathroom area in the locker room. Sullivan, an experienced reporter, responded, “Yes, just like all of the pro locker rooms I routinely go into.”Later that night, Masters officials apologized, saying the guard was mistaken. Augusta has no policy against allowing female reporters into locker rooms, as the Associated Press confirmed several were indeed allowed inside in the past without incident.Many would (and did) declare the story dead at that point. But how can Augusta allow this to happen in the midst of one of the most exciting Masters in decades? Yes, the guard made a mistake – as we all do. Sullivan said Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke and a colleague of hers, John Romano, eventually helped her get the quotes she needed.But if that were all it took to cover an event, Sullivan wouldn’t even be there. What about the “principle” already in place in Augusta that prevented a professional from doing her job? What about Augusta’s refusal to grant females membership to the club?I won’t pretend to pry into the guard’s mind at the time she refused access to Sullivan, but isn’t it fair to say she likely had the club’s membership policy in mind? No women can play here, so why would a reporter be any different?As my colleague Michael Bleach said last week in his column, “How much do media really look out for women in sports”? The defenses of Augusta as a private entity rest on some pretty staunch politics. Sure, you can tell me the Boy Scouts exclude girls and the Girl Scouts exclude boys, while fraternities and sororities do the same. But guess what? The combination of each one eliminates that exclusion. Was Sullivan given any other option?Many quick reactions to both the controversy and Sullivan’s column also questioned the place of opposite-gender reporters in locker rooms. Some even questioned the need for reporters to even be in post-game clubhouses and locker rooms at all.How’s that for hypocrisy?The very same people enabled by the Internet to give their instant opinions a voice are criticizing the people making the whole thing happen. Without reporters in the locker room, stories end with the final swing, throw or shot of the game. Without post-game reaction, those people have even less information to form their shortsighted, third-party opinions.Reporters are in locker rooms for a very specific reason. They’re reporters, and they report on what viewers and readers don’t see. Yes, post-game press conferences exist for a reason – but it’s not to replace locker room interviews, it’s to supplement them. In the locker room, players are the most candid and honest they will ever be following an event.And no matter how much they say otherwise, people absolutely are interested in what athletes have to say following a game. That’s because of the very reason American sports are as huge as they are – they’re stories of people, of humanity. Those good ol’ boys pushing the “golf is a gentleman’s game” line really aren’t interested in seeing how a 21-year-old kid from northern Ireland handled a crushing collapse in the final round of one of America’s most hallowed sporting events? For the record, McIlroy’s reaction to the whole thing was classy and honorable enough to warrant its own flock of stories – as it did Sunday night and Monday morning.So while the story as it pertains to Sullivan may be dead, the facts remain the same: Sullivan should have been allowed inside Augusta’s locker room, just as every other reporter seemingly was.Mike is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. What are your thoughts on this story? Share your thoughts with him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @mikefiammetta.