The Medal Count
So I look on my headline reader this morning and I see the medal count from Sochi. And the U.S. is leading the medal count. Which is one way of portraying, at a glance, how the various national teams are doing. But then I drill down into the results and I see that the US has eight gold medals, six silvers, and eleven bronzes, for a team-leading twenty-five medals. Meanwhile, Norway is listed in fifth place with ten golds, four silvers, and seven bronzes.
But if you asked the athletes, I’m supremely confident that each one of them would tell you that what they want is the gold medal. They’re there to be the best. Not to say that they shouldn’t be proud of getting a silver or a bronze, but to a competitor, it’s about winning, not about coming in second place.
So shouldn’t gold medals count more? If, say, a gold medal was worth five points and a silver medal worth three, and a bronze worth one, then you’d get a national team leader list that looks like this:
- Canada (9 gold, 10 silver, 4 bronze): 79
- Norway (10 gold, 4 silver, 7 bronze): 69
- USA (8 gold, 6 silver, 11 bronze): 69
- Russia (7 gold, 9 silver, 7 bronze): 69
- Netherlands (6 gold, 7 silver, 9 bronze): 60
To me, that makes more sense. And good for Canada, although I didn’t think of this with the idea of benefiting any particular national team. Getting the gold may not be everything, but it should count for more than getting the bronze.
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.