Who is Winning the Olympics?

Beijing Olympics

So is it gold medals that determine it or is it total medals?

Should we give 3 points for a gold, 2 for a silver, and one for a bronze?

And shouldn’t team sports in something big-time like basketball or volleyball or soccer count for more than an individual metal in synchronized dive wrestling?

For more on this, check out James Fallows’ post, More on Chauvinism. medals, and Olympic TV

UPDATE: Peking Duck and The New York Times also nicely address this issue.

27 responses to “Who is Winning the Olympics?”

  1. Nobody count the medals the way Americans do. China’s is the international way of medal count. nothing Chinese about it.

  2. Elm,
    Can you be more specific? How is the US counting the medals and how does everyone else count them? What proof do you have of any of this?

  3. All I know is that when presenting medals for the equestrian events, just have the horses up there. THEY are the athletes. This is why the IOC and olympdicks in general, is a sham.

  4. There is no way to compare like with like, which means you just have to take the medal table with a pinch of salt. This isn’t a problem, because (in an ideal world) the medal table shouldn’t be the focus of the games.

  5. Finally Americans are trying some of its own medicine. Now that they are behind in the score they want to reinvent their own rules…
    Check how it was, back in Atlanta. Just for a hint.

  6. one blog talks about yahoo – i checked and it depends which yahoo you’re looking at: – USA leading 67 to 66 (as of 9pm monday) – you have to follow a link to see the breakdown. – China leading 38 to 20 (golds) – they display the number of silvers/bronze but don’t do the math for you.
    horses for courses. as a brit i prefer the “chinese” method, which puts us third for the moment.
    on another note, the post claiming “we now block all … comments that we deem intended solely to destroy, rather than to enlighten or challenge or spur discussion” – why have none of my previos comments made it onto this blog?
    do you deem comments which start sentences with lower case letters to be intended solely to destroy discussion? i make no apology for this, nor do i apologise for omitting the “s” in “maths”.

  7. surely medals tables ought to be medals per capita? I mean, isn’t that why we use per capita GDP to figure out whose winning the economy?

  8. I think that team sports should carry some more weight, I mean come on, if say Brazil were to win the women’s and men’s football tournaments, they would get 2 golds, so this is of the same “Olympic importance” as having a guy who can win the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and Skeet shot? That seems fairly ridiculous in the grand scheme of things. A guy with a gun shooting a target for a few shots, or 18 players playing 6 90 minute games? And really, 15 golds to be won in shooting, and does weightlifting really need 15 golds as well? 4 Golds for football and basketball and 30 Golds for Shooting and Weightlifting. China is smart to focus on these types of events to pad their medal tally, win the events no one elses cares to emphasize

  9. JL,
    Per capita has its uses, but it is not the be-all, end-all. I read that the Bahamas won on this score for the last two Olympics.

  10. JL,
    Per capita has its uses, but it is not the be-all, end-all. I read that the Bahamas won on this score for the last two Olympics.

  11. Here’s the proof:
    Unfortunately, Internet wasn’t that popular, back then, so it would be very hard to find a link to an American newspaper. Anyways, this is the “official” count, from the IOC.
    Check it out and you will notice that the US is not in the first position, in the total count. Anyways, I am pretty sure that no Americans that they were second in Atlanta…
    It is very interesting how much we (westerns) all blame the Chinese for being biased. American nationalism, however, is just as pathethic. Only you guys don’t see it.

  12. Dan, America counts total medals, the world counts golds first then uses silvers and bronzes for tie-breaks. Last I heard, none of this is sanctioned by the IOC because the Olympics is supposed to be about finding the best individual/team in each sport, not petty nationalism taken off the battlefield and onto the sports field- although I think everybody agrees the sports field is a much better place for petty nationalism than the battlefield- however, the ‘world’ method of counting golds first gets the IOC’s tacit acceptance, if not endorsement. Personally I prefer the ‘world’ approach because although silver and bronze are important and are to be celebrated, gold is the goal.
    But no, team sports should not count for more than individual sports. Ideally, all members of a team should be acting as one individual- it’d be no good fielding a football team of one, and it’d be equally useless to have 11 men all fumbling over one rifle. And shooters and archers might not be exactly “athletic”, but I can see how the huge amount of training and concentration that go into their sports count for as much as 90 minutes spent running up and down a football pitch.
    Hunxuer, if I imagine myself perched precariously atop a beast several times larger than myself hurtling along an uneven course at high but varying speeds as said beast leaps over various obstacles, then I start to think that maybe there’s a lot more skill and athleticism to equestrian than first meets the eye. And if you watch the dressage, you see there must be a phenomenal amount of training of and communication between both horse and rider. Therefore I like the fact that both horse and rider are listed on the schedule and results. Any Kiwi my age or older will (well, should) be able to tell you Mark Todd and Charisma won gold in LA and Seoul, and that is a good thing.

  13. Rod,
    What you show here is the medal count as per the IOC, which, last I looked, is not American. In fact, I’ve always thought of it as Euro-dominated. Americans generally admit to being nationalistic. If I were to grossly generalize, it is Western Europe that tends to deny nationalism. You know, that post-country, EU stuff.

  14. chriswaugh_bj,
    Nicely put. I hugely respect all the Olympic atheletes, no matter how obscure the sport. I also fully recognize that no matter how great the horse or boat or swimsuit or shoes, damn few could qualify.

  15. chriswaugh_bj
    “but I can see how the huge amount of training and concentration that go into their sports count for as much as 90 minutes spent running up and down a football pitch”
    Well I think that footballers do a fair bit of training as well, but all athletes being equal, a footballer who is the best in his field only has a chance at one medal as part of a team, with 17 other players. But a singular shooter, swimmer, runner, etc. can not only win a medal on their own, but can win multiple medals (ala Phelps in Swimming). Just seems that the olympics are dramatically weighted to favor the individual over the team as far as medals are concerned.

  16. Total medal count is total USA bull shit. Do you suggest that bronze madal is as valuable as gold medal? Rediculous.

  17. phelps,
    What are you even talking about? I don’t think anyone would claim that a bronze is the same as a gold. All we are claiming is that silvers and bronzes should not be completely ignored.

  18. This topic reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a Chinese friend. He was going on and on about his admiration for Bill Gates, at the time the wealthiest individual in the world. Then I asked him his opinion of Warren Buffet. His response? Hadn’t heard of him. Didn’t know who he was, and didn’t care. The gist was that the top spot was worth one’s admiration. Second down is just rank and file.

  19. Interesting: on you get a sum per continent. After all, modern Olympic Games are maybe nothing but an outdated pre-First-World-War event where the nation with the largest population has more chance to win… As such, it would be pure politics.

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