SBD/August 14, 2012/Olympics

Female Olympians Mark Historic Summer Games With Golden Performances

The U.S. women's basketball team won an unprecedented fifth Gold Medal
The U.S. female Olympians went to the London Games “hungry to succeed,” and they “responded with a historic performance,” according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. Female athletes for the first time comprised the "majority of the U.S. team and ... won more gold and more total medals than the men.” They have “sparkled in prime time with Gabrielle Douglas claiming the all-around gymnastics title and the soccer team defeating archrival Japan in the gold-medal final.” They “dominated in the pool and shone on the track.” Even in “traditionally male domains such as boxing and judo, they have led the way.” But the U.S. contingent's success is “not the only reason these Games are being hailed as an important step toward gender equity in sport.” Women represented a “record 44% of the nearly 11,000 athletes” at the Games. This summer marked the “first time that every nation brought at least one female athlete, the International Olympic Committee pressuring Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia to open their previously all-male teams” (L.A. TIMES, 8/12). USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan wrote women were the “big winners,” as they “dominated the U.S. team in every way: More women than men made the team, and they won far more gold medals than the American men.” If the U.S. women comprised their own nation, they “would have finished ahead of every other country’s total gold medal count except China and tied Great Britain” (USA TODAY, 8/13). In Newark, Steve Politi wrote for three weeks in London, women “produced our best story lines and pushed our medal count to the top of the standings.” Politi: “Be it on the beaches or the track, in stadiums or on tennis courts, the Games belonged to them” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/13).

WEIGHING IN: WNBA President Laurel Richie said, “What I’ve been so impressed with is the range of sports that women are engaged in. Women are no longer being pigeonholed into certain sports. We can compete in all of them” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/12). ESPNW.com’s Julie Foudy wrote, “Officially, we call it the London Games, but perhaps we should call it the Women's Games” (ESPNW.com, 8/12). NBCOLYMPICS.com’s Matthew Kitchen noted this was the Games that “moved that needle forward in a dramatic way” for women, and it “was just the start” (NBCOLYMPICS.com, 8/13). SI.com’s Ann Killion wrote the “Girl Power celebration has continued” in London and the story of these Games “is that something right is happening in our collegiate athletic and youth programs that are the primary feeder system for Olympic sports” (SI.com, 8/12). In Detroit, John Niyo wrote in the “end, the London Olympics were about the girls.” The Games were “about the women asserting themselves,” and reminding everyone “that sport can be an equal-opportunity endeavor” (DETROIT NEWS, 8/13). Also in Detroit, Jo-Ann Barnas wrote under the header, “The Title IX Olympic? You Better Believe It!” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/12).

GARNERING ATTENTION: SI.com’s Kelli Anderson wrote “waves of great players” on the U.S. Gold Medal-winning women’s basketball team “failed to draw much media interest.” While “hordes of journalists attended every practice and game of the U.S. men's team, the women saw just a handful on a regular basis.” The female players “weren't doing something for the first time, as the U.S. women's water polo team did in winning a gold medal; they didn't leave outcomes in doubt, as the U.S. women's soccer team did in beating Canada in the final seconds of their semifinal.” Their “only hook was reliability,” and reliability “doesn't sell papers or generate clicks” (SI.com, 8/11). In Colorado Springs, David Ramsey noted U.S. women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has “wondered why his team is not more loved while the U.S. women’s soccer team rolls happily along as the nation’s sweethearts.” The soccer team has "won through hearts through drama.” Ramsey: “Peril holds enormous power to seize interest, and the soccer team always seems on the edge of disaster. … Peril is foreign to America’s basketball team. At one point in Saturday’s victory, the Americans led France, 69-37, and the arena was virtually silent” (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8/12).
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