Tom Goldman

For NPR Sports Correspondent Tom Goldman, covering sports means more than just talking scores. It's about illuminating the people who make sports happen. As NPR's only sports correspondent, Goldman's beat covers the entire world of professional sports - in the U.S. and abroad. It's a broad assignment for one person, but Goldman admits enjoying the challenge. "It plays into one of my greatest strengths as a journalist: I'm extremely open-minded. I enjoy doing a story about something I know nothing about. It brings a freshness that I hope is conveyed in the final story," he explains. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs.

During his 15 years with NPR, Goldman has covered seven Super Bowls, several World Series, and with Athens, six Olympic Games — and brought perspective and context to each. His pieces are diverse, and often explore people's motivations for doing what they do — whether it's sailing around the world solo or pursuing a gold medal. And his coverage resonates with listeners. He recalls, "I did a short piece on the death of a black high school basketball coach in Ohio who lived among the world's largest population of Amish/Mennonites. It was a story of contrast and love, and what amazed me was the listener response. There was no production in the piece, just a wonderful story. And it said so much about what listeners often want — the kinds of nice stories we in the media often sneer at."

Goldman often searches for the stories about the amateur and everyday athletes whom we all can relate to - and be inspired by. One of his favorites grew out of a conversation he had with NPR sports editor Uri Berliner. Why, they wondered, don't we hear about Native American basketball players succeeding at the college and pro levels, when we hear so much about how important basketball is on reservations throughout the country? The result was a 12-minute report that won two prestigious awards: the 2004 Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award from the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University; and a 2004 Unity Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association

Goldman came to NPR in January 1990. He started as an associate producer for sports with Morning Edition, and over the years moved on to report, edit pieces, edit shows, and produce. In June 1997, he began his current assignment.

Before coming to NPR, Goldman worked as a news reporter and then news director in local public radio from 1985 to 1990. In 1984 he spent a year living on an Israeli kibbutz. He held his first professional job in radio in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Alaska Public Radio Network from 1982 - 83.

For Goldman, there's no place like NPR for sports coverage. "For my particular beat, I am reminded why I work for NPR every time I'm forced to go into a locker room or attend a press conference and hear the inane back and forth between most sports reporters and athletes. I think to myself at times like that... thank God I don't have to say things like, 'You HAD to feel good about your performance tonight' or ask 'Those 17 points in the third quarter... were you just feeling it?'"

He admits that his open mindedness combined with an inherited sense of skepticism ("which allows me to zero in on the tremendous amount of BS in the sports world... the hype, the promotion, the image-making") and a real love of sport, motivates him to find the meaningful stories that reveal something about who we are - no matter what our interest or ability in athletics. With significant national media focus on professional sports, Goldman is always looking for new angles on stories "particularly at the mega-events, the absurdly bloated spectacles like the Super Bowl."

While the sports world is his business, Goldman admits he's no stranger to the crack of the bat, the thwack of the racket, or the swish of the net in his personal life

 

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8:13am

Wed February 15, 2012
The Two-Way

108 Years Since Women Last Boxed In The Olympics, They Prepare A Return

Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:31 am

Five-time U.S. national champion Queen Underwood listens to instructions from her coach Basheer Abdullah.
Tom Goldman NPR

Olympic history in the making is going on this week in Washington state. Two-dozen of the best female boxers in the country are in wintry Spokane with a goal of traveling to London in the summer.

That's the site of the first ever women's Olympic boxing competition. This week's Olympic trials help determine who goes.

It's been 108 years since women boxed in the Olympics. At the 1904 Summer Games in St. Louis, boxing for women was a "display event," not one of the counting, medal sports.

Now, it counts.

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2:00am

Wed February 8, 2012
Sports

Like Punk Rockers, Sabre Fencers Are 'Kind Of Crazy'

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 2:18 pm

Mariel Zagunis during a recent training session in Portland, Ore. Zagunis won gold medals in women's sabre fencing at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
Tom Goldman NPR

There are three weapons in fencing: epee, foil and sabre. Mariel Zagunis is the best woman in sabre — she won Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008.

To understand the world of Zagunis' weapon of choice, it may be more apt to consult the Sex Pistols rather than a fencing historian. That's because sabre fencers, Zagunis says, are the "punk rockers" of her sport.

"You have to be more aggressive and explosive and kind of crazy," she says. "I think that kind of plays into our personality."

Lesson For A Champion

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4:13pm

Mon February 6, 2012
The Two-Way

Heartbreak And Victory: Kyle Stanley's Week On The PGA Tour

Professional golfer Kyle Stanley will forever remember Super Bowl Sunday 2012. And not because he's an over-the-top New York Giants — or Madonna — fan.

But because he won the unglamorously-named Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday. And for Stanley, there was nothing trashy about his final round 65 that secured a one-shot victory and his first on the PGA tour.

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3:20pm

Mon January 23, 2012
Sports

Cash-Strapped L.A. Dodgers Shop For A New Owner

Los Angeles Dodgers players high-five after beating the San Diego Padres 2-0 at Petco Park in San Diego on Sept. 23, 2011.
Denis Poroy Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of professional sports' most storied franchises. But they're up for auction because much-maligned and outgoing owner Frank McCourt was forced to put the team under bankruptcy protection last summer.

Now, preliminary bids for the Dodgers are due on Monday. The team lost its luster during McCourt's ownership, but estimates for the winning bid range from $1.2 to $2 billion, dwarfing the record $845 million paid for the Chicago Cubs a couple of years ago.

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10:11am

Sun January 22, 2012
Remembrances

Penn State Football Legend Joe Paterno Dies At 85

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 9:05 am

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno stands with his team before they take the field during an NCAA college football game against the University of Wisconsin in State College, Pa., on Oct. 13, 2007.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Joe Paterno, the man synonymous with Penn State football, died Sunday after developing complications from lung cancer. He was 85.

Paterno was an iconic figure on the sports landscape. He coached at Penn State for 61 years, though his long tenure ended amid a child sexual abuse scandal.

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