Thursday, February 13, 2014

Stand Up and Be Counted?

[Johnathan Clayborn]

The Winter Olympics are in full swing right now. This year there's been plenty of buzz surrounding the Olympics with all of the mishaps that are going on in Sochi.

One of the things that has always confused me about the Olympics, one of the most unfair parts about it in my opinion, is how the Olympic Committee tabulates the standing for the medal count. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not confused about how their system works, that part is perfectly understandable. I am, however, confused about why they use that system at all. The Olympic medal count standings as they are tabulated are only concerned with one thing: Gold Medals. If the countries are tied in Gold, then it's Silver Medals that break the tie.

An example of how unfair the current methodology of the medal count is, let's look at the current standing as they are today. Slovakia is currently ranked #14 in the medal count. They have 1 Gold medal...and that's it. Just one medal. The country beneath them is Sweden. They have 4 Silver medals, and 1 Bronze medal. So, is that 1 Gold worth more than all of the rest of those other medals combined? Apparently. Apparently that's exactly what we're saying; that the only victory worth getting is first place.

Now, I had an idea for an alternative method for devising the medal count, but because parallel development of ideas exists, unsurprisingly, I'm not the first or only person to think of this other method. As best I can determine it was first publicized in 1908 in Britain. Basically it would be a point-based system; gold medals are worth 5 points, Silver medals are worth 3 points, Bronze worth 1. If you applied that to the current medal counts the results would be very different indeed.

In our example from earlier, Slovakia would only have 5 points, but Sweden would have 13 points, making them ahead of Slovakia by quite a bit. In fact, if you applied this methodology to the current top 10 countries, then 3 of them would have 13 or fewer points and be closer in rankings to Sweden.

The biggest reason that I can think of that we don't use a weighted point system is because the largest, most affluent countries tend to win more gold medals than other countries and by keeping this bizarre system in place it makes it harder for less affluent countries to claim top spots on the rankings.

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These blogs represent my thoughts, ideas and opinions. They may be different from yours. You may not agree with them. While I do enjoy a good, polite debate on a topic (where points are countered with other points based on logic, reason and fact), I do not enjoy an argument (where you tell me that I am wrong simply because you disagree and cannot offer any reasons to support your position). I am very respectful of others, and I expect everyone on here to be respectful in return, not only to me, but to each other as well. Disrespectful posts will be deleted automatically. Feel free to share your ideas, but keep it civil, please.