In The Game

My 12 year-old daughter and I are looking forward to curling up on the sofa to watch the Olympics together.  It’s especially exciting because this Olympics is a banner year for women. 

Not only will there be more American women competing than men, the London Games will also be the first games in history where every competing nation has women athletes in the game.  The other week, Saudi Arabia announced that two women would compete under the Saudi flag.   Brunei and Qatar will send women to the games for the first time, as well. 

It’s a great moment in Olympic history and I am counting on the enterprising journalists in London to document more than the triumphant victories and the crushing defeats in what is, in fact, the greatest competition of nations.   I am counting on them to capture the totality of these women’s stories -- who gave everything just to be in the game.  We’ve been tracking a few of these stories at WNYC for a while now.

For the past year, WNYC’s senior reporter Marianne McCune and photojournalist Sue Jaye Johnson have been following women boxers vying for spots on the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing team.  With the addition of women’s boxing on the 2012 roster, there will be no men only sports in these Olympic Games.  Through WNYC’s multimedia series entitled Women Box: Fighting to Make History, audiences came to know these women intimately.   We became invested in their success and emotionally connected to their fight for a chance at Olympic glory.   We met their families, learned what motivated them, why they fought and where they found their strength. 

McCune’s and Johnson’s year-long work will culminate in an hour-long special called Go For It:  Life Lessons from Girl Boxers produced by WNYC and PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.  Among others, Go For It follows 17-year-old Claressa Shields from her months of training at her high school gym in Flint, Michigan to the final qualifying games in Qinhuangdoa, China.  The special also introduces the boxers from Kenya, India and Venezuela.  It premieres this Thursday (July 26th) on WNYC AM and FM at 8pm. 

Here on WNYC, we’ll follow the local athletes from the tri-state area on air in newscasts and online.  We’ll talk to them in London and to those who know them best here at home.  We’ll also take a “what-might-have-been-look” at NYC’s bid to host the games and the development that came as a direct result of our own city’s fight to get in the game.

Coverage of the Olympic Games on WNYC will also be provided by the BBC and NPR during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  For more information on Go For It: Life Lessons from Girl Boxers or to listen online click here.  My daughter has already listened to the WNYC special and we’re looking forward to watching Claressa in the ring together.

 Through a series of essays, Laura Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, explores the role of media, stories that make you think and content that just deserves a shout out.