Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Reality

During the past seventeen days, an average of 31.1 American million viewers tuned in every evening to watch the 2012 London Olympic Games. Even though NBC monopolized the event, they successfully gave America a Reality where greatness is meticulously measured. Each country sent its most fit and able individuals to compete against each other and prove their country's superiority.

via CBS.com

The United States of America reclaimed the title as the World's Top Superpower by winning not only the most medals, but the most gold metals. We'll beat our pride-swollen chests as our flag rises above the others. We'll celebrate the soldiers'- I mean athletes' homecoming by calling them American Heroes that won the war with non-violent sportsmanship.  We'll politely say, "Nice Try China, it was good to see you again Russia, and that was an interesting show Britain" as our 46 gold, 29 silver, and 29 bronze medals flash in their eyes.

'I only beat you by 3.69 seconds Pereira,
maybe in four-years you can catch up
Unfortunately, like most Reality found on television, the Olympics does not accurately portray the world. The medal count seems like a fair way to gauge each country's athleticism (and therefore superiorty), but it ignores other important facts and figures that levels out the battleground. I've found this nifty (although a bit confusing) program that sorts countries and their medal counts by 1) Official Medal Count, 2) Gross Domestic Product to Medals, 3) Population Count to Medals 4) Number of Athletes to Medals, and 5) GDP per Captia to Medals. Columns 2 - 5, I believe, are weighted so that Gold equals 3pts, Silver 2pts, and Bronze 1pt.

First, I congratulate you if you have figured out how to work this cryptic table. If you still need help, here is an example:

China won 38 Gold, 27 Silver, and 22 Bronze.
 (38Gold x 3) + (27Silver x 2) + (22Bronze x 1)
 = (114) + (54) + (22)
 = 190 [weighted number of medals]

1,334,130,000 [Population] / 190 [Medals] = 7,021,736.84
Meaning for every 7million (or so) people in China, it got one [Weighted] Medal

The U.S. n 46 Gold, 29 Silver, and 29 Bronze.
(46Gold x 3) + (29Silver x 2) + (29Bronze x 1)
=  (138) + (58) + (29)
= 225 [weighted number of medals]

311,591,917 [Population] / 225 [Medals] = 1,384,852.96
Meaning for every 1.3 million people in the U.S., it got one [Weighted] Medal

So we beat China in this regard as well. Along with 70 other countries. In fact, the island country of Granada got the most medals per citizen despite getting only one medal.

1 Gold x 3 = 3
104,890 [Population] / 3 = 34,963
One medal for every 34,963 Grenadians!

'Take that China and USA!'
China does beat the US when it comes to GDP, GDP per Capita, and Team (which I think counts every number of medals given away, i.e. the Relay Team gets 4 gold medals x 3). Meaning, despite being poorer than America, its citizens being poorer than Americans, and sending less athletes, Team China won a whole lot of medals. The Chinese government sees value in showing athleticism to the world and pours money into such programs. Americans might find Chinese Olympians' dedication shocking, but it's just a different mindset; they probably think P&G 'Supporting Olympians' Moms' is bizarre.

My Ping-Pong Gold Medal cost less per citizen than  yours James!!' 
Regardless of all this penis-measuring, all of the Olympians worked hard to make it to and through the games. They all proudly represented their countries. (Well, not these people) The world should marvel at their skills and determination. Medals going to other teams does not make them less worthy or less amazing- they are competing against the best. We couch potatoes should remember that any of these athletes could whoop our muffin tops. (Zhang Jike's can hit ping-pong ball at over 60mph)

My message: Don't get too big-headed over Team USA's Offical Olympic Medal count. It's a false Reality that leaves out important statistical information. You can be impressed and proud of your countrymen, however. Just remember when you are bragging:

'You didn't break the Women's 4x100 Relay World Record'

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