Home > Uncategorized > (Letter) How Do I Love The Medals, Let Me Count The Ways

(Letter) How Do I Love The Medals, Let Me Count The Ways

(h/t to anti-CNN)

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  1. Dandan
    August 21st, 2008 at 11:36 | #1

    Is it true that the US always count totals in stead of golds?

  2. August 21st, 2008 at 11:43 | #2

    I always understood the hat-tip to mean ‘I got the link from this person’, not ‘I’m posting the same thing they posted’. And why anti-CNN for god’s sake? Where’s the link? This has been all over the news, and has been mentioned all over the place – I thought their gig was ‘media bias’? The Yanks have always totted up their medals this way – no bias involved really.

    Now, If you want me to say which one I prefer, well, I have always favoured a points system similar to that used in the Formula 1 rankings, but if asked to choose between the two, I definitely favour the system used outside the US (American commentators keep calling this the ‘Chinese’ system, but it is used in most other countries as well). The reason is simple – with the US system you end up with loads of countries tied for 10th, 11th, 12th etc. place, even when one may have six golds whilst the other has only six bronzes.

    Finally:

    GO TEAM GB! THIRD PLACE WOOHOOOO!!!!

  3. Wukailong
    August 21st, 2008 at 12:32 | #3

    With the fenqing over at anti-CNN, one can almost feel the fumes over what the Western media does.

  4. Eric Havaby
    August 21st, 2008 at 13:42 | #4

    Why only from the US and China? Try some other countries. Nearly all list by golds. As does the IOC. It’s not a “Chinese system”.

  5. Dandan
    August 21st, 2008 at 14:10 | #5

    Have a feeling that Russia might catch up and grab the third.

  6. August 21st, 2008 at 15:19 | #6

    @Dandan -Yup, but at least we can be sure of beating the Aussies – given the way they always seem to beat us at almost everything, that’s sweet enough . . .

  7. Dandan
    August 21st, 2008 at 16:08 | #7

    @FOARP

    Haha,that’s true, and the Aussies are so having sour grapes.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/olympics/article4564644.ece

  8. funwithfigures
    August 21st, 2008 at 17:14 | #8
  9. Daniel
    August 21st, 2008 at 17:22 | #9

    The US media wants to go by total counts (for obvious reasons as others listed) but if you were to ask the athletes or people within that circle, they would probably rank, if they really have to, by gold. I remember watching a few programs where even though some of the participants got a silver or bronze medal, which is good by all standards to achieve something, several had a somewhat dissapointing look and remark about their “loss”. I don’t know if you all saw the same things with your media but I did in some of the channels and sites regarding the Olympics in general.

    As a joke and side-note, you guys got something against Aussies?

  10. Charles Liu
    August 21st, 2008 at 18:43 | #10

    I’ve never seen medal count ordered by Bronze… Thought that was funny.

  11. August 21st, 2008 at 18:48 | #11

    @Daniel – Britain and Australia have a long-running sporting rivalry, centred mainly around Rugby and Cricket, but beating them in the Olympics is almost as good!

    Otherwise we’re pretty chummy.

  12. EugeneZ
    August 21st, 2008 at 19:38 | #12

    In each sport, there is only one No.1, making “Gold” golden. The silver or bronze medals are not nearly as special as the gold, and almost the whole world knows about it except the US. To argue otherwise would be rediculous in my view, if you think the total of No.1 + No.2 + No.3 is so special, what about the total of the top-4, top-5, top-8, or even the number of athletes attending the Olympics games by country, which China would rank at the top. The decision to award medals to the top-3 was rather arbitrary, while being No.1 is always special no matter how many medals are awarded in each game.

  13. Daniel
    August 21st, 2008 at 19:55 | #13

    Ah, I see. Healthy competition.

    I should ask some of my relatives in Australia about their obsession with sports. I notice from what I read how it is almost a religion there.

  14. S.K. Cheung
    August 21st, 2008 at 21:45 | #14

    It seems you’re looking for controversy and potential anti-China slights where none exist. Admittedly, the AP graph is goofy. But since gold/silver/bronze are all ‘medals’, if one were to do a “medal count”, it seems logical to list by total medals. And the US leads by that definition. But if you were to have a ‘gold medal count’, then China is ahead. Both are true. But the Chinese table should be split into 3, so that you also have a separate “silver medal count” and a “bronze medal count”. BTW, I believe China has more athletes competing in part because of host nation exemptions. But since much is made about how China has 1/5 of humanity, by that measure, isn’t China underperforming since her contingent is <1/5 of the total competitor numbers? Again, it’s all in how you slice it, but if you’re always looking at how you’re being slighted, I’m sure you’ll always find examples, reasonable or not.

  15. Opersai
    August 21st, 2008 at 21:57 | #15

    XD~ That Euro Union one was funny. I guess, despite all that said about friendly, healthy competition etc, etc, we still want to see our own nation win. That’s human nature. But I have a slight problem with often US media calling the rank by gold system the “Chinese system”. It’s not, it’s the almost internationally standard system. What impression left by this addressing? Chinese obsession for gold, of course. ya, right~

  16. Opersai
    August 21st, 2008 at 22:00 | #16

    @S.K. Cheung:

    I don’t counting by total from US is anything of anti-China. It’s simply one want to see their own country win. It’s human nature. It’s just good laugh. Like that Euro Union table.

  17. Charlie
    August 22nd, 2008 at 01:27 | #17

    It seems rather pointless to argue the appropriate method to rank a country’s Olympic medal haul. There are valid arguments on both sides of the gold v. total debate. I can attest that US media has always (at least past 40 years) ranked by total medals; it is not some new anti-China system. Quite frankly I think it best just to let this one be. China is happy under its system, and the US is happy under its system. Isn’t that a perfect outcome!

  18. MoneyBall
    August 22nd, 2008 at 02:05 | #18

    @Charlie

    ” I can attest that US media has always (at least past 40 years) ranked by total medals; it is not some new anti-China system. ”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2008/aug/14/bustedhowamericaturnedthe

    Be careful the next time you attest on the behalf of US media.

  19. Charlie
    August 22nd, 2008 at 02:45 | #19

    @Moneyball

    Look at the article you cite as to how the “winners” for Sydney 2004 were determined by US Today– by total medal count. But you’re right of course, making generalizations as to US media is dangerous, there are too many points of view. Let me put it this way, my perception is that in general most American’s have traditionally been more interested in total medals than in total gold. My conclusion stands: “Quite frankly I think it best just to let this one be. China is happy under its system, and the US is happy under its system. Isn’t that a perfect outcome!” Apparently win-win isn’t an acceptable solution to you Moneyball. So be it.

  20. MoneyBall
    August 22nd, 2008 at 02:56 | #20

    @Charlie,

    A ———“Be careful the next time you attest on the behalf of US media.”
    B ———“Apparently win-win isn’t an acceptable solution to you Moneyball.”

    Just outta curiosity, how did you get from A to B?

  21. Charlie
    August 22nd, 2008 at 03:11 | #21

    @ Moneyball

    The conclusion of my post was: “Quite frankly I think it best just to let this one be. China is happy under its system, and the US is happy under its system. Isn’t that a perfect outcome!” You chose not to let it be, but to site an article from an English hack which you believed contradicted a preliminary statement of mine. I take that as evidence you do not agree with my conclusion. I think that’s a fair reading, but if I am wrong I apologize. To accept my apology, all you need to do is to publicly state your agreement with my conclusion.

  22. yo
    August 22nd, 2008 at 03:21 | #22

    my 2 cents,

    I’ve seen both ways displayed, quite frankly, I think both are okay. It’s the difference between quantity and quality, which ever is important is in the eye of the beholder. The AP one is just messed up, is that even real?!

    But anyways, I think this is applicable to the situation 🙂
    “The Olympics are about giving out medals of beautiful gold, so-so silver, and shameful bronze”
    Man, I love the simpsons!!!!!!!

  23. MoneyBall
    August 22nd, 2008 at 03:42 | #23

    @Charlie, I agree with ur conclusion. No need to apologize.

  24. Michelle
    August 22nd, 2008 at 08:21 | #24

    On medal ranking: Meh.

    Oh Team GB: Woooo!

  25. August 22nd, 2008 at 09:20 | #25

    @Moneyball – But plenty of other US news media used the total medals count back in 2004, and in 2000 –

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/2000/medal_tracker/current/countries/

    http://espn.go.com/oly/summer00/standings/medalstan.html

    http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer04/gen/news/story?id=1865531

    Plus all my American pals say that they always measure it this way, my guess is that USA Today just copied the IOC rankings.

  26. Gan Lu
    August 22nd, 2008 at 12:26 | #26

    I prefer that we rank the countries according to medals-per-capita. That way, both the U.S. and China come up way short of Australia. Think about it – Australia has something like 20 million people – the same as Shanghai. That means that Australian athletes (41 total medals) have won just about two medals for every one million people. On the other hand, China (83 total medals) has won just one medal for every 16 million people! Not so spectacular when you think about it this way. 加油中国!

    For those who are interested, the U.S. (at 100 total medals) has won one medal for every 3 million people – worse than Australia, but much, much better than China.

    In short, using medals-per-capita as the standard, China has nothing to gloat about.

    @Admin/@Nimrod

    Care to check my IP address again? Want to admit that I am posting from Beijing?

  27. BMY
    August 22nd, 2008 at 13:33 | #27

    @Gan Lu,

    I agree with you China is not a sports country when compare with the U.S and Australia and I think everyone on board is able to count medals-per-capita. China and the whole Chinese population have far to go in terms of society sports(and GDP-per-capita, democracy etc you would like to say and both are true). I personally think society sports is more important than medals.

    But When you compare with Australia, China’s sports dose like science experiments. But if you compare 20 years ago’s China and today, there are more people do sports now days in Beijing, you know. Life is not always dark, one might need a cheer sometime.

  28. MoneyBall
    August 22nd, 2008 at 14:46 | #28

    @Gan Lu,

    Dumbest thing I ‘ve ever heard. If you rank medals per captia, you can’t limit the SAME max number of players per game for every country, that has to be per captia too. You should have 1 Aussie, 15 Americans, 60 Chineses compete for every medal.

    BTW the next time you talk about CO2 emission, please use per captia numbers too.

  29. byte_me
    August 22nd, 2008 at 15:15 | #29

    @Gan Lu,

    Here are some tidbits:

    Take a look at this article:
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/29/1093717836459.html
    Go figure why Australia has the that many medals per capita. Gold medals don’t come cheap.

    Neither does it translate to a fitter nation. Australia has an obesity problem. http://www.aihw.gov.au/riskfactors/overweight.cfm

    And that’s costing $58 billion a year!
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24221719-5013404,00.html

    That said… hopefully, with the Beijing Olympics, the love for sports can be cultivated in China.

  30. byte_me
    August 22nd, 2008 at 15:40 | #30

    @Gan Lu,

    The USA and Australia have a pretty liberal immigration policy with regards to foreign born athletes.
    In the case of the USA, there have been quite a lot written about it. http://images.sportsline.com/images/visual/0807liwag-olympicforeign3.jpg
    http://whoareamericans.com/2008/08/08/olympic-athletes/
    http://www.denverpost.com/ci_9928807?source=rss

    As for Australia, if I recall, quite a number of the medallists were formerly from USSR and South Africa, etc.

    China herself has exported quite a number of table tennis players. Singapore’s only medal after 49(?) years, came from one. Singaporeans born and bred locally have their competitive energies channeled elsewhere!

    Makes the competitions based on nationalities a joke, really.

  31. byte_me
    August 22nd, 2008 at 15:43 | #31

    hmm, my earlier post seems to have dissapeared…

    pardon me if you are seeing the following twice.

    @Gan Lu,

    Here are some tidbits:

    Take a look at this article:
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/29/1093717836459.html
    Go figure why Australia has the that many medals per capita. Gold medals don’t come cheap.

    Neither does it translate to a fitter nation. Australia has an obesity problem. http://www.aihw.gov.au/riskfactors/overweight.cfm

    And that’s costing $58 billion a year!
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24221719-5013404,00.html

    That said… hopefully, with the Beijing Olympics, the love for sports can be cultivated in China.

  32. Gan Lu
    August 22nd, 2008 at 17:35 | #32

    @ MoneyBall

    I’m perfectly happy with the idea of ranking CO2 emissions according to per capita numbers. In fact, it’s been done already.

    And if my post really is the dumbest thing that you’ve ever heard, then you don’t get out much. Get a life, Slick.

  33. Gan Lu
    August 22nd, 2008 at 17:40 | #33

    @byte_me

    I agree with you. In fact, the IOC steadfastly maintains that competitions at the Olympics are between individuals, not nations.

  34. MoneyBall
    August 22nd, 2008 at 18:24 | #34

    @Gan Lu

    LOL you wrote a post sharing with everybody something you thought was smart, turned out it’s really stupid, hopefully you realized that by now. Who needs to go out get a life? if you got out talking to people more you probably would have known long time ago you aint as bright as you mom told u when you ur 5, and stopped spitting out all these retarded ideas in your head, let them stay in there pl, that will be doing both you and the society a favor.

  35. Charles Liu
    August 22nd, 2008 at 23:55 | #35

    If I were in Beijing frankly I would be way too busy joining in the festivity, instead of blogging.

  36. August 23rd, 2008 at 00:04 | #36

    @Charles – I’m curious: When it comes to the Olympics, do you support China? The US? Both? Or neither?

  37. Charles Liu
    August 23rd, 2008 at 00:09 | #37

    Foarp, US of cours. I cheered for Nastya when she won the all-around gold. What I don’t agree is crying “she’s 14” when we lose the unparallel bar.

  38. S.K. Cheung
    August 23rd, 2008 at 01:10 | #38

    To Gan Lu,
    the per capita thing is interesting. Jamaica takes the cake by that standard, no other country need apply. However, can’t be used as a straight comparison. If the standard was 1 gold/600K population, China could win every single gold medal and not meet that standard by a country mile.

    But to use per capita for CO2 would just be silly…unless of course you wanted CO2 emissions to increase.

  39. Gan Lu
    August 23rd, 2008 at 08:12 | #39

    @S.K. Cheung

    Ranking CO2 emissions on a per capita basis would underscore the fact that, while China, as a nation, emits more CO2 than any other country, the Chinese people, as individuals, still emit far less than people in the U.S. and Europe.

  40. Gan Lu
    August 23rd, 2008 at 11:18 | #40

    Just for kicks, I checked the medal tables at BOCOG’s official website. Another interesting way to think about U.S./China success at the Olympics is to compare the medals won by men and women. At this point (Sat. night, 7:00), Chinese MEN have won 21 gold medals and 35 total medals, while U.S. MEN have won 17 gold and 49 total. Viewed this way, the race looks much closer. In fact, with such a large disparity in total medals, some might even say that U.S. men have done much better than Chinese men. With several more track and field, basketball, volleyball, and water polo medals left, the U.S. men might actually beat the Chinese men in overall gold medals. In any case, in premier sports contested by both Chinese and U.S. men, the U.S. easily comes out on top.

    In keeping with the last couple of Olympics, Chinese women (27 gold, 56 total) have dramatically outperformed Chinese men (21 gold, 35 total). This is generally in keeping with a longstanding view of Chinese men as being less masculine (too much yin 阴, not enough yang 阳) than western from other countries. (Just to be clear, this view of Chinese men has been the subject of much discussion in academic circles.) Perhaps it would be better to say that Chinese men are more in touch with their feminine side that men from the U.S? I crack myself up.

    U.S. men – 17 gold, 49 total / U.S. women – 13 gold, 50 total

    Check out BOCOG’s breakdown of medal winnings at http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/INF/GL/95A/GL0000000.shtml

  41. S.K. Cheung
    August 23rd, 2008 at 17:55 | #41

    To Gan Lu:
    that might underscore a point, but at the end of the day, mother Earth does not care how much CO2 is emitted per person, only how much CO2 is emitted in total.

  42. CLC
    August 23rd, 2008 at 18:18 | #42

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned this perspective, which is a team medal should carry more weight. So a soccer/football gold medal should be counted 11 times instead of only once.

  43. S.K. Cheung
    August 23rd, 2008 at 22:28 | #43

    To CLC:
    that’s a difficult one to reconcile. Certainly, it seems disproportionate that the soccer team has to play 6 or however many matches to be in position to win one gold, whereas Bolt can win gold in the 100 by running 3 races. Same goes for swimming, a couple of heats and you’re in position to medal. Same also in gymnastics, where I think event finalists did their routines 2-3 times. But in other individual sports like tennis, each person is playing a bunch of matches for the chance for 1 medal. But then do you count team sports by the numbers on the field, or do you count the subs too. Should doubles tennis count for 2? Should synchro diving count as 2? Should Canada count 9 gold instead of 1 for the heavyweight men’s rowing 8’s? Where do you draw the line?

  44. CLC
    August 24th, 2008 at 06:55 | #44

    @SKC

    Yes, double tennis counts for 2 because it takes 2 people to win a gold medal. While a decathlon champion has to compete in ten events, it’s still an individual effort and should be counted as one gold medal.

  45. S.K. Cheung
    August 25th, 2008 at 01:13 | #45

    Then the Argentinian men just won 18 gold instead of one for their soccer victory, since there were 18 guys on the team. And the US men just won 15 (how many guys were on the team?) gold for basketball. Would it make sense to do that? And the Nigerian men and Spanish men just counted a bunch of silver for those sports as well. But if that doesn’t make sense (and I don’t think it does), then where would you draw the line?

  46. CLC
    August 25th, 2008 at 01:41 | #46

    No, for a basketball game, at any given time, there are five people. So a gold in basketball is worth 5 in my book. I don’t think it’s good to count all members of a team with some players are always on bench.

  47. S.K. Cheung
    August 25th, 2008 at 01:54 | #47

    But what about subs? Do you then count the number of team members who registered playing time? At any time during the tournament, or just for the medal game? Let’s say no. Let’s say you only go with the number of positions on the playing surface in that given sport. Was the Argentinian achievement 2.2 times more significant than the Redeem team, and 11X more noteworthy than Clay winning the decathlon?

  48. DJ
    August 25th, 2008 at 02:55 | #48

    CLC, SKC,

    Interesting that you are discussing this counting method here. I made a comment earlier in the other medal table thread. There is a WaPo article summarizing the performances: “U.S. Finishes With Respect for China, Satisfaction With Showing“. It includes the following:

    USOC Chief Executive Jim Scherr proved that, if you do a little creative math, you can even call the U.S. team a victor in the gold-medal count, too. Scherr told reporters last week that more individual U.S. Olympians will take home gold medals than athletes from any other nation.

  49. S.K. Cheung
    August 25th, 2008 at 03:26 | #49

    To DJ:
    that’s a good one. That’s “creative math” indeed. Isn’t he the same rocket scientist who complained based on He’s looks? The question, to me, had other legitimate bases, but his reasoning was mind-numbingly stupid.

  50. CLC
    August 25th, 2008 at 03:29 | #50

    @SKC
    In practice, when a team wins championship, every member gets a gold medal. But to give “weight” to each gold medal in different sports, I’d say tennis double gold is to be counted as 2 and basketball as 5.

    @DJ
    I think it’s suffice to say China’s performance is the best ever for any host country in the Olympic history. The US only got 40+ golds in Atlanta. On the other hand, I have to say that the US is still the No.1 sports nation in the world. I think this practice of “creative counting” only demonstrates that there are multiple angles to view the same thing, even for the seemly trivial and simple medal counting.

  51. CLC
    August 25th, 2008 at 03:35 | #51

    Was the Argentinian achievement …11X more noteworthy than Clay winning the decathlon?

    Look at another way, you could also say Clay’s achievement is 1.25 more noteworthy than Michael Phelps. 😉

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