On Sept. 25, 1978, a New York judge ruled in favor of Sports Illustrated reporter Melissa Ludtke, who brought a civil suit claiming commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Major League Baseball were violating the 14th Amendment when they said she couldn't go into the New York Yankees locker room after a game because she was a woman.

This ruling should have been landmark legislation, changing how women were treated in sports journalism.

Not quite.

Forty years later, Ludtke is working on her memoir about the case. But in August, she reflected on Judge Constance Baker Motley's decision and detailed what she faced as she pursued a career in sportswriting.

"They challenged my morality by intimating that I wanted to be inside locker rooms to leer at naked ballplayers," she wrote for GlobalSport Matters. "Why else, columnists asked, would I take Major League Baseball to federal court to gain equal access to interview players in the locker room?"

Ludtke has no doubt about the reasoning behind it all.

"The men's aim was to trivialize my demand for equal treatment, a strategy they paired with expressing displeasure with our presence and presenting us with difficulties in the hope that we'd give up and go away."

Guess what: Four decades later, we're still here.

Ludtke writes about how much thought she had to put into her clothes: "I dressed with gender in mind. … The full skirts of my Laura Ashley dresses fell discreetly below my knees so when I was talking with managers in dugouts I crossed my legs with impunity."

Fast-forward to 2018, and things feel eerily similar. Take what Sports Illustrated's Joan Niesen shared on Twitter on Monday: "I agonize over words a man would type through without a second thought."

Monday — a day before the 40th anniversary of Ludtke v. KuhnThe Daily Beast published a story detailing how the entertainment blog Barstool Sports uses its platform and rabid readership to harass women working in sports because its founder and his employees don't like what they have to say.

The story explains how employees attacked ESPN personality Sam Ponder and encouraged their fans to do the same. When Deadspin reporter Laura Wagner began writing on the subject, they attacked her, too.

Founder Dave Portnoy "has been making highly sexualized, harassing comments about Wagner, and very much implied he wants others to follow his lead," the Daily Beast reports.

"A front-facing executive like Portnoy, who has repeatedly said that he 'want[s] to stick my tongue down [Wagner's] throat,' would not last long at any sports media company, let alone one with a recent $100 million valuation per Bloomberg News."

This online harassment is the latest example of what women working in sports media face daily. In 1978, the battle was fought in clubhouses. Now, the battle is fought online.

Last year, Beth Mowins became the first woman to call an NFL game since 1987. Some Twitter users shared why they had a problem with that, saying her voice is "intolerable" and "annoying."

Julie DiCaro detailed the response in the New York Times after Mowins' debut.

" 'Shrill.' 'Grating.' 'Like listening to my ex nag me,'" her piece begins.

DiCaro, a Chicago radio journalist, spoke to broadcasting legend Andrea Kremer, who cut through that analysis.

"I have no doubt that 'hating the sound of her voice' is code for 'I hate that there was a woman announcing football,' " Kremer told DiCaro.

Later in the year, some went as far as blaming Mowins for ESPN's ratings drop.

There are few industries in which someone on the internet can direct criticism directly at somebody. Sports journalism is one of them.

On Tuesday, Amazon announced that Kremer would join Hannah Storm to become the first all-female NFL broadcast team when the company begins airing Thursday Night Football games on Amazon Video Prime this week. Kremer, a Philly native and Penn grad, became one of only a handful of women to win the Pete Rozelle TV-radio award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Once again, these women were criticized before the first broadcast: "That will be an absolute terrible listen."

Cam Newton lost endorsement deals after making a sexist comment about a female reporter last year.
Steven Senne / AP
Cam Newton lost endorsement deals after making a sexist comment about a female reporter last year.

Are things getting better?

Maybe not. Three years ago, while participating in a fellowship for women and minorities aimed to help diversify sports-editor ranks, I was credentialed for a Jaguars-Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. After it finished, myself and two other female participants were prevented by an usher from entering the Jaguars locker room.

"You know what goes on in there," I remember him saying, as if it weren't a place a woman should be. He wanted to "check on the rules." A Colts staffer emphatically apologized once he arrived.

Here's the thing: There were no rules to check. Any working media member with a credential is allowed in the locker room. He stopped us because he thought it was inappropriate for us to be in a room where players were getting dressed, even though we had every right to be.

Last fall, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came under fire for laughing when a Charlotte Observer reporter asked him a question.

"It's funny to hear a female talk about routes like — it's funny," he said. It's not funny.

Three months ago, Julieth Gonzalez Theran was groped and kissed while reporting on-air for a Spanish news channel while in Moscow for the World Cup.

Would that fan have done the same to a man? Of course not.

Are things getting better?

Maybe. The Washington Post has a woman covering each of the city's pro sports teams. Kremer and Storm will make their debut on Amazon Prime Video this week.

"Legal barriers are gone, but cultural ones endure," Ludtke writes. "My generation fought for equal rights inside of courtrooms. For this generation, the fight is tougher, since no judge can order the changes these women need.

"Only social movements will change cultural norms on the necessary fronts – sharing of family responsibilities, tamping down of misogynistic impulses and lifting of women's sports. From the activism I see in the millennial generation, I expect to celebrate progress in the years ahead."

In 1982, Bucks County native and former Inquirer writer and columnist Claire Smith became the first woman to work on a major-league baseball beat full time when the Hartford Courant hired her to cover the Yankees.

In May 2017, I sat at the Association for Women in Sports Media convention and heard Smith tell the story of how she was prevented from entering the San Diego Padres locker room after an NLCS game in 1984. She stood outside the door, on deadline and in dire need of quotes. Padres first baseman Steve Garvey stepped out to help. Smith broke down.

Smith did her job, at the Philadelphia Bulletin, and the Courant, and eventually the Inquirer, the New York Times, and now, ESPN.

And last summer, she became the first female winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame's J.G. Spink Award — the highest accolade a baseball writer can receive. That feels like progress.

Former Inquirer sports writer and columnist Claire Smith became the first woman to win the Baseball Hall of Fame’s highest accolade for journalists, the J.G. Spink Award.
CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Former Inquirer sports writer and columnist Claire Smith became the first woman to win the Baseball Hall of Fame’s highest accolade for journalists, the J.G. Spink Award.