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The Bahamas - the real medal winner of the Athens Olympics

By gerdemb in News
Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:42:20 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

A different way of calculating the medal standings brings some interesting results.

With the closing of the Athens Olympics on Sunday, newspaper headlines boasted of yet another record year for American athletes. The "Biggest winner is US athletics" http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/9541421.htm proclaimed the Miami Herald writing the "United States claimed 103 medals in Athens and proved it is still a dominant athletic force." True, the United States was the leader in overall medal count--11 more than second place Russia and 40 more than China who placed third. Count another way though and the United States placed a dismal 38th out of 75 medal scoring countries.

Instead of counting the total number of medals, if countries are scored by the number of medals per capita the tiny island nation of the Bahamas would win. With two medals, a gold in the women's 400m and a bronze in the women's 200m, divided by a population of just under 300,000 The Bahamas earned one medal per 150,000 people. In contrast the United States won 103 medals, but spread over a population of 293 million that's only one medal for every 2.84 million people. Other medal powerhouses by population include Estonia, Cuba, Australia, Slovenia and Latvia with medals per 330,000 to 500,000 people.

Among the 75 countries awarded medals, the last place country was India with just one medal for 1.065 billion people. The 2008 Olympic host country China also scored poorly when ranked by population. Despite its second place in total medals, China ranked 5th from the last with just one medal per 21 million people.

There are obviously many ways that the Olympic medal count could be adjusted to make favorable comparisons for each country involved. Some have suggested weighting gold, silver and bronze medals differently, adjusting for team sports where multiple athletes win a medal, calculating by number of athletes entered in the games or place of training (as opposed to country competing for) and even comparing by GDP.

In the end, though this is nothing more than statistical play designed to let everyone believe that their team is a winner in some way. Truly every athlete that competes in the games has reached the pinnacle of their sport and no statistical number can take that away.

Medal statistics from official Athens 2004 web page. Population statistics from the CIA World Factbook.

(per million)
14New Zealand540.8
22Czech Republic8101.25
33Great Britain30602
38United States1032932.84
39U Arab Emirates133
50Chinese Taipei5234.6
51DPR Korea5234.6
58Hong Kong177
59South Africa6437.17
61Dominican Rep199
64I. R. Iran66911.5
68Syrian Arab Rep11818


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Related Links
o http://www .miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/9541421.htm
o Also by gerdemb

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The Bahamas - the real medal winner of the Athens Olympics | 158 comments (109 topical, 49 editorial, 0 hidden)
New Zealand also did well (2.20 / 5) (#2)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 10:49:46 AM EST

3 gold and 2 silver = 1 medal to each 800,000.

It would be nice to redo the calculations with a medal type bias. I.E. gold is better than bronze.

Blondes win more gold (none / 1) (#122)
by Repton on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:17:45 AM EST

And as one of my workmates pointed out ---

If we hadn't sent blond(e)s to the games, we would have only come home with two silver :-)

They say that only an experienced wizard can do the tengu shuffle..
[ Parent ]

How about by GDP? (2.75 / 8) (#6)
by Stephen Turner on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:09:07 AM EST

It's not just big countries that tend to do well. It's also rich countries. So maybe an interesting comparison would be medals divided by gross domestic product.

Now if only we could find a way to make Australia do badly. Medals per marsupial, anyone?

GDP data (none / 0) (#8)
by gerdemb on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:15:41 AM EST

I actually calculated this information too, but I decided that it made the article too confusing. I could post it in the table though.

[ Parent ]
Where they train (2.00 / 3) (#12)
by minerboy on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:40:35 AM EST

It would be interesting to see where the atheletes actually lived and trained. I'll bet you'll find that all the small, poor countries, like the Bahamas, actually have atheletes that live and train in the US or Europe. In fact, Greece allowed anyone who had greek ancestory, basically a Greek Grandmother or Grandfather, to compete for Greece.

[ Parent ]
Medals per marsupial (none / 0) (#47)
by Aemeth on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:29:16 PM EST

I think we'd still probably come out okay, we've made a pretty good effort at removing as many native animals as possible.

Medals per introduced species however...

Seriously though (well, as serious as I can get with sports), some friends and I were thinking similar things, seeing Australia's tally, and comparing ourselves to the much larger nations that were higher.

However, medals per capita is not necessarily the best measure. Imagine a country that always wins all but one medal, and their population keeps expanding.  This country will have its apparent performance decrease under this metric, even though there's not really any room for growth.

I think perhaps a potentially better metric would be medals averaged over the amount invested. So in simple terms, `How much did you spend to get it?', but of course this could be made more complex and indicative (and impossible to calculate) by including non-monetary costs such as training time etcetera.

...mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell

[ Parent ]
Aussies: money spent on sport (none / 0) (#50)
by Fuzzwah on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:27:23 AM EST

The way to make us Aussies lose, is to compare medal tally vs the amount we spend on sports. I haven't got any hard figures, but even a simple comparison of how many athletes we sent to the games to how many medals we won makes us look a little more average. 9% of our athletes came home with medals.

Only a little though, because we freakin rock at sport :)

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Incidentally (3.00 / 3) (#7)
by i on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:12:54 AM EST

here is a spreadsheet I've compiled from the official Games site, Wikipedia, and Kryogenix (yanked the javascript code from the latter). Naturally, you have to enable javascript to be able to sort by each column. It's not pretty but usable.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

Darn. (none / 0) (#9)
by i on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:17:58 AM EST

I forgot. Direct links don't work. Go here and follow the link.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
um (none / 0) (#10)
by reklaw on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:29:14 AM EST

Why does a .html file give a bandwidth-stealing message? That's pretty fucking stupid.
[ Parent ]
Any file (none / 0) (#11)
by i on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:35:36 AM EST

from the "user's files" section does. 'Cuz WhoSee ain't free hosting site, y'know.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
yes, but (none / 1) (#35)
by reklaw on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 04:42:15 PM EST

it probably took more bandwidth to serve me that silly little picture than it would have to serve your HTML page. "No bandwidth stealing" images are supposed to prevent people using your images inline. Whoever set HuSi up like that is just dumb.
[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 0) (#88)
by ZorbaTHut on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 08:22:28 PM EST

The point is that people *won't* link to that page, because, hey, it's useless. Yes, you lose more bandwidth per person that does, but in theory far fewer people will.

[ Parent ]
Some more information (3.00 / 8) (#13)
by bdesham on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 11:43:20 AM EST

You may wish to look at Wikipedia's article on the medal count, and also another medal analysis by population and William Mougayar's analyses, which include medal count vs. GDP and some other interesting statistics.

"Scattered showers my ass." -- Noah
The US media ranking system is stupid anyway (2.37 / 8) (#15)
by Reiko the Hello Kitty Fetishist on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 12:15:24 PM EST

Ranking by the count of total medals is just bullshit the US media seems to have cooked up to put the US in the best light. It seems to me that the system that the rest of the world uses, ranking by weighting the value of each medal (gold more than silver more than bronze), makes a hell of a lot more sense.

But what do I know? I just buy worthless plastic crap because it's cute.
The U.S.A. wins that way, to (1.00 / 9) (#16)
by bobpence on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 01:01:45 PM EST

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
The U.S.A. wins that way, too (1.16 / 6) (#17)
by bobpence on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 01:02:16 PM EST

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
No. (1.62 / 8) (#23)
by i on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 01:17:53 PM EST

EU wins either way.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
Not quite (2.66 / 6) (#26)
by Pelorat on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 02:06:54 PM EST

"The EU" wasn't a competing entity. Therefore it can't win anything. There were French medals, German medals, etc... but no EU medals.

[ Parent ]
YHBT. (none / 1) (#59)
by caek on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 07:15:57 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Why is Mexico at the bottom of the medal list? (1.86 / 15) (#25)
by NaCh0 on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 02:00:53 PM EST

Because any mexican who can run, jump or swim is already in the US.

K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
My Encouraging your comment... (none / 0) (#114)
by Danzig on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 04:00:53 PM EST

should not be taken to mean I think Mexicans coming to America is a bad thing. I am all for open borders and letting pretty much anyone who wants to be a citizen of this country become one. If you keep those who will work for lower wages out of the country, all that happens is that as much as possible is offshored.

You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
rmg for editor!
If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
Kill whitey.
[ Parent ]
Shades of Racism. (none / 1) (#132)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 09:59:06 AM EST

I suppose some people will think I'm racist now.  But, it was funny; partially because it's so horribly inappropriate.  That's why I gave that comment a 3.

The fact is that we say "racist" things all the time.  When you refer to all black people as "African-American", you're being racist (not all dark-skinned people come from Africa, and what's with hyphenating Americans?)  When you call someone "yellow" for being a coward, you're being racist.  When you say "I got gypped", you're being racist (Gypsies).

The point is, there are all sorts of "racist" comments, and they don't turn our world into a racist war-zone.  What matters is intent -- and the poster was telling a joke.

People are racist, not words; and just using politically-incorrect words doesn't really make anyone racist.  I'm far more offended by people trying to curtail the rights of others to express themselves than I am by someone making a genuinely racist comment.

Racists are misguided, and they suck -- people who are so angry or offended at others' words that they try to repress them are misguided and scary.

"In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

[ Parent ]

Another metric, maybe: (1.00 / 8) (#34)
by gibichung on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 03:59:15 PM EST

We could include some kind of "real sport" factor into the medal comparisons. I realize that the Chinese, for example, are good at badminton, table tennis, diving, and shooting, but ...well, who cares?

"No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it." -- Theodore Roosevelt
yeh, and whats with all those womens events? (2.00 / 2) (#100)
by forgotten on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 05:59:54 AM EST

if women are going to play sport, it should be foxy boxing.


[ Parent ]

More problems with the math (2.85 / 7) (#38)
by StephenThompson on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 05:25:24 PM EST

Just counting by per-capita is also wrong, since each country has a limited number of entries. China is always going to lose in the per-capita race because they have so many people. When it comes right down to it, there is no valid way to do the rankings, and this is probably by design, so everyone can finagle a winning story.

I disagree (none / 0) (#65)
by doconnor on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 12:03:09 PM EST

While the number of entries are limited, I don't think they are so limited that people who would have a good chance at a medal would be excluded.

For example if each country get 3 entries a large country like China might send people who are among the top 10 in the world, while a smaller country might send people who are among the top 50. If China sent more, they would be not in the top 10, so unlikely to effect their medal count.

There has been a lot of disappointment with how well Canada did, but it is interesting to see we are in the middle of the pack, and just ahead of the US.

[ Parent ]

there's a lot of luck though (none / 0) (#108)
by Delirium on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 12:18:20 PM EST

Winning is not only a matter of being the top 3 people in the world: a lot of people considered significantly lower end up winning medals. If your country sends 10 times as many people, even if they're on average slightly worse, you will tend to win more medals.

This is one reason why the host country tends to win more medals than usual, because they automatically qualify in all events, and so with a simple "throw people at everything in sight" approach, they end up with a better chance of winning medals.

If the US competed as 50 states instead of one country, I bet it would win a lot more total medals.

[ Parent ]

some people think (2.66 / 3) (#42)
by minerboy on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 08:08:32 PM EST

the EU won the olympics. Of course, the EU was not so limited in the number of entries, and in particular, had multiple entries in the team sports

Of course ... (2.60 / 5) (#43)
by duncan bayne on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 08:08:42 PM EST

... one could praise the Olympians for their achievements and effort, while all the while lamenting the fact that taxpayer money is spent on winning those medals.  Here in New Zealand, it's been estimated that taxpayers paid an average of two million $NZ for each of the medals we won (5 IIRC, but I might be wrong).  

This while the Government lets our health, education, power and roading infrastructures turn to crap while refusing to privatise any of them.

Perhaps if we ceased praising countries for the achievements of individual athletes, Governments might be less inclined to spend Other Peoples Money on those athletes.

You don't want privatisation. (3.00 / 3) (#54)
by gordonjcp on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:40:59 AM EST

Over here, damn near everything was privatised by the last Conservative government. Now we have no functioning rail network, massive problems with our hospitals (who are given the same amount of money to work with as when they were nationalised, but now their running costs are much greater), and our roads are a disaster. Up north, we have had days go by with main roads left ungritted in the winter, as ice builds up on the road surface nearly as quickly as crashed cars build up in the verges. And of course, road tax is being increased to pay for "necessary improvements" - let's fucking see them then!

The next idea is great, you'll love this. There is some discussion about lowering speed limits, enforced by speed cameras, during wet weather and winter, to save on the amount of road clearing the maintenance companies do. Yup, a blanket 40mph speed limit on motorways will do wonders for this country.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
Well then ... (none / 0) (#80)
by duncan bayne on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:04:05 PM EST

> who are given the same amount of money to work
> with as when they were nationalised, but now their
> running costs are much greater)

They're not privatised if they're given taxpayer money by the Government are they?

We did a similar thing here in New Zealand, trying to move publicly-funded hospitals to a business model rather than running them like a publicly funded service - and you can imagine how badly *that* went.

[ Parent ]

Are you sure... (none / 0) (#82)
by bhearsum on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:41:23 PM EST

...your not from Canada?

[ Parent ]
Privatisation isn't always the answer. (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by brain in a jar on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:46:19 AM EST

It has had its successes and failures.

The privatisation of the UK rail system while the conservatives were in power has done nothing to improve its quality. All that happened was that the government had to sell off rail franchises cheaply and provide subsidies for any companies to be interested. The nations railways also took the backward step of splitting the country into regions run by different companies in an attempt to foster competition. Sadly this ignored the fact that rail transport if essentially a natural monopoly. Essentially money was wasted trying to tempt private companies into the rail business which would better have been directly spent improving the railways. The privatisation was carried out dogmatically, in the belief that private industry is some magic bullet which produces quality and efficiency, even if the privatisation is badly implemented and intrinsically inefficient (due to splitting up the system creating admin overheads and ticketing problems.

For more examples of broken privatisation, look to the causes of the california energy crisis (horribly planned deregulation, again resulting from blind faith in markets) and try comparing the Cost effectiveness of the US and Canadian healthcare systems.

Sometimes privatisation helps, sometimes it doesn't. If the problem is underinvestment, then the solution could be privatisation, but it could also be higher government spending.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

The problem ... (1.50 / 2) (#79)
by duncan bayne on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:02:22 PM EST

... is that higher Government spending == higher taxation, which means more theft.

Granted, privatisation won't always lead to an improvement in quality of a service, as conceivably, if there aren't enough paying customers, it might even lead to the *end* of that service.  Unlikely, but possible.

The point is that private services are funded voluntarily, and public services are funded at the point of a gun.

[ Parent ]

Forced payment (3.00 / 2) (#101)
by brain in a jar on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 08:25:23 AM EST

Also has its uses.

Some public goods e.g. the police service are essentially impossible to privatise, but still cost money to run. Hence either we have a system of forced payment, or we have lots of freeloaders who don't pay for the services which they benefit from.

Worse still once the majority of people see that the freeloaders are getting the service but not paying, they too generally turn into freeloaders, funding collapses and the service dissapears.

If the service happens to be one that society can't function without eg. police, national security, what follows is anarchy.

We have taxes for a reason, you may see them as the violence of the state against you, but in a "voluntary payments only" world chaos rules, and the rich run the show in the same way the government otherwise would.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

That's a bit of a stretch (none / 0) (#116)
by PhillipW on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 05:37:46 PM EST

"...higher Government spending == higher taxation, which means more theft."

I fail to see how taxes lead to property crime. Care to explain?

[ Parent ]
death and taxes (none / 1) (#117)
by MrLarch on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:02:18 PM EST

What he means is that he's defining taxes as "theft", and therefore "crime", probably on the basis that any given government is likely to be inefficient enough to consider your tax monies wasted (or just big, in which case the benefits are spread so thin or so abstracted that you don't recognize them); which is why "public services are funded at the point of a gun."

Better than just asking for explanation -- for that doesn't really address the issue on my mind -- is to ask why it's perpetuated and what the alternatives are. The former would no doubt get the kneejerk "why, it's the men with guns!" while the latter would be answered by privatization. The _real_ problem lies in the case when there can be no private market ("it might even lead to the *end* of that service.  Unlikely, but possible.") but the good in question won't go away easily now that it is provided at low indiviual cost because of the amount of demand or the critical nature of it (national defense is frequently used as an example in simplified models). We can simply vote to retain that level of provision despite the costs involved.

The "men with guns" hyperbole is just another way to start the discussion of public finance. However, there is simply more to it. Using that rhetoric as reasoning is, in my humble opinion, little but bait.

[ Parent ]

Taxes are theft [n/t] (none / 0) (#119)
by duncan bayne on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 11:27:07 PM EST

[ Parent ]
exactly in the same way as (none / 0) (#156)
by tantrum on Mon Nov 15, 2004 at 08:56:59 AM EST

property is theft.

makes about as much sense.

[ Parent ]

bad example (none / 0) (#118)
by MrLarch on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:47:38 PM EST

Natural monopolies being broken up into something stupid like geographical sections where they don't actually compete with each other until they are finally allowed to merge (eg a hundred years later) and then possibly spin off various functional departments when market forces warrant it is an example of poor understanding of the industry and the market it faces. It's tragedy, and the private market is blamed because the business wasn't allowed to deal with the market on its own terms in the first place.

[ Parent ]
You make a fair point (none / 1) (#131)
by brain in a jar on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 08:58:36 AM EST

I guess my point was that far too much privatisation/liberalisation has been undertaken in a dogmatic way. There are a lot of people on the right who seem to think markets are some kind of magic that automatically produces efficiency and so never bother to think in detail about how a given system will work.

This was the point of both the example of the UK's railways and the California energy debacle. Both of these were apparently undertaken without anyone thinking in detail about how it would work. In the case of california nobody thought about the fact that energy is a rather strange kind of good. If you have enough then the system works, and further units of energy have little or no value, if you don't have enough then the whole system fails (brownouts) and the energy producers can charge you whatever they like for the next few units of power you need to fix the problem.

The design of the market was negligent, because someone had FAITH in markets, rather than an understanding of them. Though perhaps they can be forgiven for failing to grasp the extent of the selfishness that a corporation is capable of.

Finally the selfish irresponsible people who created an artificial energy scarcity, and caused massive chaos just to make a buck should probably be in jail, but that just isn't going to happen.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

No, privatization is no universal cure.. (none / 0) (#147)
by joib on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 01:39:32 AM EST

I don't think anybody (except for the usual wackos driven by ideology instead of reason) thinks that privatization, or the market economy generally, is the solution to all the problems in the world. Same applies to socialism (nationalisation), of course.

I think privatization brings benefits in such cases where it can be arranged such that there are many competing players. Competition is good, and forces the players to increase their efficiency (or go bust).

Here we can see that the privatization of the UK railways was a failure since all the new rail companies in essence had a monopoly on their own turf, increasing the cost to the user (and causing problems when the user wants to move from one turf to another, as you mentioned). Perhaps a better choice would have been to leave the tracks themselves (a natural monopoly, if anything) in the hands of the government, and only let the private companies run the trains themselves. I.e. a bit like private trucks and buses run on public roads today.

As for the California energy crisis, my understanding was that this was caused by bad regulation, not the free market as such. The government had imposed a limit on the price of electricity, which discouraged the utilities from investing in new capacity. As the price of energy rose, the utilities eventually found themselves in the situation where they bled less money by shutting their equipment down than by selling electricity at a loss.

For an example of electricity privatization well done, see the Nordic countries. Here the model is such that the electricity grid (again, a natural monopoly) is publicly owned, while the utilities themselves are private. Additionally, they have their own exchange market for electricity, NordPool, where the big players (utilities and big industries) can get some benefits by playing there.

[ Parent ]

Athletics is part of a civilization /ntea (2.00 / 3) (#68)
by MrLaminar on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:04:59 PM EST

"Travel & Education. They will make you less happy. They will make you more tolerable to good people and less tolerable to bad people." - bobzibub
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#78)
by duncan bayne on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:00:59 PM EST

But that doesn't explain why people who don't want to pay for it should have to.

[ Parent ]
Same with museums etc (none / 1) (#84)
by MrLaminar on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 05:05:09 PM EST

I think it's the same way with museums and state-sponsored art galleries. They belong to the general "culture". I couldn't care less about {cubism,impressionism,{insert cheesy art thing here}}, yet, as a citizen I too must partake in these expenses through taxes.

Not a very good idea if you ask me, but hey, that's the way society works :-/

"Travel & Education. They will make you less happy. They will make you more tolerable to good people and less tolerable to bad people." - bobzibub
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's the way society works currently ... (none / 0) (#85)
by duncan bayne on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 07:00:03 PM EST

... but it doesn't have to be that way.

[ Parent ]
Do I sense an is/ought fallacy? (none / 0) (#138)
by kurtmweber on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:50:28 PM EST

Ooh, I think I do!

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
It aggrieves me to agree with you, but I do. (none / 0) (#125)
by Nursie on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:15:27 AM EST

The whole spectacle is a huge waste of taxpayers money. I hate the fact that my home city (London) is in the running for the next olympics.
The Politicians put together tenders and bids for it, which themselves cost millions of pounds, and spout rhetoric like "It'll bring much needed money to the area" or "the whole of London will benefit from the infrastructure put in place for the olympic games!", when in general the olypics is known to break roughly even in terms of money in compared to tax money spent.

Here's a radical idea - whilst you're doing those infrastructure improvements - instead of spending billions on a new stadium, why not use that money to improve London too? And then we don't have to put up with our city being even more crowded than it already is for some of the hottest weeks of the year!

I also resent the fact that we will have to pay extra tax to help fund the games, without actually being asked if we want them. Seriously, ask us, do we want to pay more money and have games and infrastructure? or would we rather spend a bit less and just have the improvements and no games? Huh?

Meta Sigs suck.

[ Parent ]
Your comment presumes (none / 0) (#134)
by smegma hauler on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 01:13:34 PM EST

that there's some way to calculate every possible expenditure on everything and somehow prioritize them according to the benefit to humanity each is likely to result in.

[ Parent ]
the caribbean in general rules (none / 1) (#58)
by circletimessquare on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 06:48:52 AM EST

i watched the bahamas win their medals and was thinking just that: "how the fuck did such a tiny place..."

the caribbean nations in general i thought were awesome on track and field

if you watched any of the competition: jamaica, antigua, barbados... they all kept popping up

and the dominicans! where the fuck did they come from? i don't ever remember them being represented so much in previous competitions, like they came form nowhere... they were serious challengers in volleyball too

but as a side note: all the caribbeans seemed to be studying in us colleges or living in the us... like the dominican track and field guy from washington heights who is a minor celebrity in his home country

any way you slice it though, go caribbean! the caribbean is an awesome athletic powerhouse apparently, since most other measures of olympic prowess go by gnp and population, things the caribbean is not strong in, but they rule nonetheless

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

India - the real medal winner of the Olympics (1.37 / 8) (#63)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 10:46:54 AM EST

A different way of calculating the medal standings brings some interesting results.

Instead of counting the number of medals per capita, if countries are scored by the population per medal, the huge sub-continental nation of India would win. With a population 1.065 billion divided by one medal, a silver in some men's rifle shooting even, Indians earned 1.065 billion per 1 medal.

In the end, though this is nothing more than statistical play designed to let everyone believe that their team is a winner in some way.

The Big F Word.

That kind of misses the point. (none / 1) (#87)
by handslikesnakes on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 08:07:06 PM EST

How is having a low rate of success per capita a good thing? I could invert economic statistics, but that wouldn't make the western world worse off because it has lower numbers.

[ Parent ]
The shriek you hear... (none / 0) (#99)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 05:32:28 AM EST

I could invert economic statistics, but that wouldn't make the western world worse off because it has lower numbers.
... is Archimedes running naked, shouting "Eureka!"

The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]
Where does the government spend its money? (none / 1) (#130)
by joib on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 08:39:30 AM EST

Perhaps a low succes rate per capita in the olympics means that the government in question has chosen not to waste its money on such flagwaving.

[ Parent ]
-1, not enough keyboards (1.06 / 16) (#67)
by Keith Emerson on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 12:23:12 PM EST

How about money spent per medal? (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by nlscb on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:23:56 PM EST

You could show which country shows the highest medal per dollar spent, thus showing each countries economic medal productivity. Anyone know how one would track down the finances of each countries olympic committee, since the majority of medals would be won through that (shot put just isn't going to attract the same kind of sponsor money as basketball)?

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

Did you think to factor in (3.00 / 5) (#71)
by Kasreyn on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:48:18 PM EST

how many nations "import" their Olympians from some other country? I heard several countries had large numbers of recent immigrants on their team. Immigrants whose welcome into their new country had been sped past the usual waiting times by governments eager for them to compete under their flag. In particular, one country, but I can't remember which, had its whole weight lifting team in from some country like Estonia or Latvia or Romania or wherever they grow them short and broad.

So per capita only goes so far. You could do a comparison to the national treasury of a country to see how efficient they were at buying their talent. :P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
The one thing I noticed (none / 1) (#72)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:58:46 PM EST

The one thing I kept hearing over and over was how some runner or another was originally from Kenya. When they showed Denmark's star T&F guy, I was boggled.

If I was Kenya, I'd be lining up some sponsors and fielding a "dream team" of my own.

I've never known a weasel to lie to me, whore himself out for money or pretend that the weasel competing with him is hungrier than he is. Goddamn it, w
[ Parent ]

they can only send three guys (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by boxed on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 02:43:34 PM EST

...and well, that's all they needed to snag all the medals anyhow :P

[ Parent ]
Well that's the thing (none / 0) (#142)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 01:33:07 PM EST

Who the hell wants to emigrate to Kenya?

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
another one (none / 0) (#145)
by Wah on Mon Sep 06, 2004 at 11:28:38 AM EST

to look at would be where the athletes actually lived, or worked.

That would, if my impression was correct, increase the U.S.'s total medal lead, as many of the top athletes in track and field are going to university here.
umm, holding, holding...
[ Parent ]

could be oz (none / 0) (#158)
by Cackmobile on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:07:32 AM EST

I was travelling at the time but I did notice Oz won a lot of weightlighting medals something we havn't really been into. We have many times imported athletes usually for weigtlifting and gymnastics

[ Parent ]
-1, What is it with 'you people' (1.28 / 7) (#76)
by thelizman on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 03:16:18 PM EST

A different way of calculating the medal standings brings some interesting results.
Why is it that when people felt they've lost, their first instinct is to a) question the validity of the process, or b) propose an alternate method of accountancy by which they win.

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Simple, (none / 0) (#90)
by rodoke3 on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 09:25:20 PM EST

if you can win outright, you might as well bring home a "technical" victory for the tourist brochures...

I take umbrage with such statments and am induced to pull out archaic and over pompous words to refute such insipid vitriol. -- kerinsky

[ Parent ]
Damnit, Lizman (none / 0) (#91)
by kosuri on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 09:41:06 PM EST

I missed you. You are the only voice of reason around here.
I'm glad that when this story goes down this stupid comment will go with it. -- thankyougustad, 11/23/2005
[ Parent ]
OT: Didja Hear about the EU Athletes? (2.25 / 8) (#77)
by thelizman on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 03:23:57 PM EST

Apparently, Romano Prodi (who is the political equivalent to K5 troll in Europe, as I understand it) says he wants to see the EU flag flying next to member states flags in the 2008 games? Man, it's funny how close this EU thing is to a parody of the foundation of the US. I'm sure John Cleese is involved somewhere.

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
Hey (none / 1) (#96)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 01:09:10 AM EST

I'll bet you $5 of good American money that if and when the EU takes sovereignty from the member states, the constitution gives everyone the right to free beer, hookers, or both.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

If romano prody is involved (none / 1) (#110)
by Nursie on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 01:17:09 PM EST

Then my bet's on both!

Meta Sigs suck.

[ Parent ]
If that happens (none / 1) (#113)
by thelizman on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 03:26:15 PM EST

...I'm moving to Europe. I mean, if I can't have complete liberty and unabashed free-market capitalism at my disposal, then I'll settle for cheap government liqour and a monthly whore-entitlement.

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Romano Prodi?? (none / 0) (#139)
by xptm on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 03:43:59 AM EST

If you're refering the president of the eu comission, it's Durão Barroso former portuguese prime-minister), not Prodi...

[ Parent ]
Well, that sucks... (2.50 / 2) (#89)
by Lord Snott on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 09:06:08 PM EST

Australia is no better or worse off with your counting method.

I can just imagine the tourism ads now...

"Come to Australia, consistently mediocre!"
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

we're the fourth best (none / 0) (#103)
by the sixth replicant on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:02:05 AM EST

no matter what benchmark you use


[ Parent ]

It's out convict past. (none / 0) (#106)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:46:18 AM EST

What else did you expect?

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
mediocre (none / 0) (#157)
by Cackmobile on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:02:38 AM EST

I can't see how we are mediocre. We came fourth and are massively smaller than the countries ahead. We have 20m people. US 260m, Russia 180m (i think) and china 1.2b

[ Parent ]
-1 I don't come home from doing math all day (1.25 / 4) (#92)
by RandomLiegh on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 09:49:04 PM EST

to do yet more math.

Dump it.

Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.

Poor India (none / 1) (#93)
by skim123 on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 12:45:01 AM EST

Over 1 billion people, and all they can muster up is one lousey medal? For shame.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

India is too busy taking away your jobs. (2.00 / 2) (#121)
by ScumericanNazi on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 12:42:56 AM EST

Please concentrate more on your swimming talents. You might have to swim all the way to India for your next job.

[ Parent ]
+1FP, makes UK look less pathetic (3.00 / 2) (#98)
by nebbish on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 05:06:21 AM EST

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

You crack me up! (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:45:34 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
+1FP Australia still comes fourth or second or ? (none / 0) (#102)
by richarj on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 08:53:15 AM EST

Obviously our athletes must use drugs or maybe we should just look at exactly where our tax dollars are going. Australia though is a nation of sport worshippers so it is not unusual to see us try our hardest in any event.

As for people who think that the olympics is about war then explain the Australian medal takings. Who where we ever really at war with? (Germany, Japan, Turkey, some place in South Africa but I think that was the Brits fault). What countries do we fear? (Indonesia). Then look at who we compete at in most sporting events. The results do not add up. There is more to sports than reformed tribal warfare.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty

Tribal Warfare is what makes it fun (none / 0) (#112)
by nlscb on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 01:36:43 PM EST

Seriously, many of the most memorable games in history - England beating Germany for the World Cup (leading to the greatest cheer ever - Two World Wars and One World Cup!), Canada beating the Soviets in '72 & '87 in Hockey, the Soviets stunning the US in basketball in '72, America returning the favor in Hockey in '80 - were memorable not just for the controversy, but the basic passions of "us against them" that they invoked . For God sakes, when you Ozzies play the Kiwi Blacks, don't tell me the only reason you care is because of the grace, elegance and spirit of world class play rugby?

Though I must say hearty congrats to you blokes down under. I figured 2000 was a fluke due to homefield advantage (see Norway in 1998), but after this it looks like it is the real deal. Well done! You've raised the bar for everyone. Plus, since you're a functioning civil society with democratic checks and rule of law, your victories are almost certainly clean, unlike the freaky East German teams of the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

It's vicarious (none / 0) (#155)
by mrt on Thu Sep 16, 2004 at 10:04:09 PM EST

There is more to sports than reformed tribal warfare.

It's vicarious warfare for the audience, not the particpants. It doesn't matter who the opponent is, the important part is to get the fabulous three pumping through the bloodstream (adrenaline, endorphine and dopamine). Do that, and the need for violence subsides, or is at least transformed into some kind of desire or ambition, which is the point of warfare, hence the comparison.


I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of that old phrase (none / 1) (#104)
by TheGreenLantern on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 10:18:48 AM EST

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.

It hurts when I pee.
not a good way of doing the rankings (3.00 / 4) (#109)
by Delirium on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 12:19:39 PM EST

Being allowed more entries per capita increases the chances of winning per capita. If the US were to enter 50 teams, one for each state, it would win a lot more total medals.

qualifications (none / 0) (#127)
by Filip on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:38:44 AM EST

The contenders would still have to qualify, so I'm not sure the US would be able to send a lot more athletes.

Besides, you'd dilute the teams in all team sports - which would reduce there chances, not heightening them. (Hey, that's a good idea: Divide and conquer - I like the sound of it. :)

-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]

Question: (1.16 / 6) (#115)
by LilDebbie on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 05:15:57 PM EST

How many of the non-American athletes live and train in America? I noticed that Yao Ming character or whatever his name is (the only Chink in the NBA) was ballin' for China.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Upside down (none / 0) (#120)
by ikonoclast on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 11:33:23 PM EST

If we are supposed to be assessing countries by "Medals per Million", why do you show Millions per medal? Ikonoclast

Style over substance (none / 1) (#123)
by tonyenkiducx on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:26:05 AM EST

Maybe it should be based on who has the nicest haircut? Ethiopia would do terribly, but America and some of those Chinese dwarf children would do fantastically. Or possibly on the average weight of the countries Big Mac, because surely that would affect the atheletes ability to be in shape?

No wait, I have it. The population of the country divided by the number of golds, the average weight of the national football team multiplied by the average number of types of pasta owned(Per capita) and the number of letters in the countries most popular expletive.

I think worked out that way the United Kingdom would finally win something. So Huzzah for Britain!! Now, who wants to go and invade some small African nation?

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
bogus (2.66 / 3) (#124)
by muyuubyou on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:33:13 AM EST

The number of entries is limited by country and not by population. In many disciplines this makes a huge difference, especially when some countries are highly specialized. Many americans couldn't pass the trials but would have had chances for medal. In pool jump and gymnastics, if the chinese and the russians could send more people they'd leave little options for the rest, as they always lose some for infortunate mistakes.

So it's not so simple. I have to agree some countries like Ukraine, Jamaica, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Belarus, Hungary, Greece or Australia (to name a few) have exceptional merit, but not for winning anecdotal medals in obscure sports no one practices except for preparing the olympics, but for consistently having finalists in many disciplines.

Others like China, ranked very low in that list, have dominated "their" sports and scored some medals in others like tennis. They can't send a proportional number of athletes, and the population with access to equipment is also very limited.

Being picky: two small notes (3.00 / 8) (#126)
by eemeli on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 06:28:57 AM EST

First, your table says it lists medals per million, when in fact it's listing millions per medal. It's the same effect in the end, but still...

Also, you're using very low-precision numbers for the population count of smaller countries, eg. listing both Slovenia (2.011 million) and Latvia (2.306 million) as having populations of exactly 2 million. The most glaring mistake this causes is incorrectly ordering the the top four countries; the right order should be the following:

Rank | Imprecise | Country   | Medals | Population | Millions
     | Rank      |           |        | (millions) | per medal
 1   |  1        | Bahamas   | 2      | 0.2997     | 0.150
 2   |  4        | Australia | 49     | 19.91      | 0.406
 3   |  3        | Cuba      | 27     | 11.31      | 0.419
 4   |  2        | Estonia   | 3      | 1.342      | 0.447

Other studies (none / 0) (#128)
by fernand0 on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 07:25:21 AM EST

In Medias verdades, Antonio Zugaldia shows and interesting analysis using the Human Development Report 2004. The text is in Spanish, but everybody can understand numbers and rankings. In If Europe really existed, it would rank #1 at the Olympics there are some consideration about European participation. Las olimpiadas y otras cosas contains some more links.

also bogus (none / 0) (#137)
by muyuubyou on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:31:17 PM EST

Nope. The USA maxed out their number of athletes in many disciplines. In many competitions the limit in the number of athletes you can send makes you lose a lot of chances. Is that so difficult to get? many people seem to ignore that.

Easy example for dummies:
One injury in 4x100m relay (or any other relay for that matter) and you lost one medal. No you don't have more teams for having 20 times the population of Jamaica.

In yachting, for instance, where many nations have sailors with chances, this measure doesn't work. Olympics live on nationalism, and are thought to compare nation-to-nation. Simply that.

[ Parent ]

Olympic Spirit? (2.66 / 3) (#129)
by labradore on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 07:57:37 AM EST

Gee, I thought the Olympics were supposed to be about amateur atheletes of many nations putting aside political differences to compete honorably as atheletes. The exercise is a tribute to man's ability to temporarily reject his ruthless drive for power in favor of fellowship and sportsmanship and solidarity among those who strive to perfect their talents in the field of sport.

Counting medals mistakes vanity for accomplishment. The grotesqueness of it is that you haven't even been paid to butcher these ideas for celebrity or profit. Were you inspired by the sycophant television broadcasters, the leeching, larcenous advertisers or the vapid, vainglorious professional atheletes themselves? I admit there are exceptions but they are few and besieged on all sides by the corrupt and the greedy.

I'm pretty sure that there never was a modern olympic spirit. If there was, it was on display during a commercial break. It is sad to see our highest ideals so thouroughly corrupted by the mockery called the Olympics.

Who gives a flying carp? (none / 1) (#133)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 10:10:35 AM EST

Firstly, why should anyone care what country brought home the most medals?  It's nothing more than an international pissing-contest.  No one "wins" the Olympics, that would defeat the spirit of the games (not like the corporate guerrilla-sponsorship hasn't marred them already...).

Secondly, while I can see a country's populace cheering for their citizens to win, and while I can see a sense of national pride for the athletes (they are representing their countries, after all), it is the victory of the athletes that should be celebrated.  The US did not win any metals, the US athletes did.

Any nation should be proud to have athletes compete in the Olympics.  Nations should be especially proud of those that go on to get medals -- but just because US has a few more athletes we're proud of than some other nations doesn't mean we're any better than anyone else.

"In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

Yeah, at the Olympics, everybody wins (none / 1) (#144)
by coljac on Sun Sep 05, 2004 at 01:09:14 PM EST

You're right, this is very crass, turning the Olympics into something so competitive. The true spirit of the Olympics has nothing to do with competition, or so-called "winning" and "losing". It's about friendship and cultural exchange. It's about showing the other athletes photos of your kids. It's about Bulgarians and Eritreans sitting down at a table and scrap-booking together. About Japanese and Kazakh athletes posing for photos in front of the Acropolis. ABout all-night Pictionary marathons, souvlaki, postcards.

Stop making it so competitive.

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

Competition is great, but... (none / 0) (#146)
by RadiantMatrix on Mon Sep 06, 2004 at 01:18:18 PM EST

Stop making it so competitive.

That would be going too far in the other direction; and, you clearly missed the central point of my comment.  Namely, it is the athletes that compete, not the nations.  Or do you honestly believe that the United States of America is somehow a better country because US athletes won more medals than other countries?

"In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

[ Parent ]

Better countries (none / 0) (#152)
by coljac on Wed Sep 08, 2004 at 12:54:50 PM EST

All the athletes are competing on behalf of their nations, so of course there's a large aspect of national competition happening.

Anyway, if you just focus on the athletes, is the winner a better person than the silver medallist? Of course not. So, then, what's the point? It's competition for its own sake. That's the Olympics!

Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]
"May the better man win" (none / 0) (#153)
by RadiantMatrix on Thu Sep 09, 2004 at 04:11:09 PM EST

Anyway, if you just focus on the athletes, is the winner a better person than the silver medallist?

Yes. Sort of.  A better athlete anyway.  I have no real problem with national pride associated with the Olympics.  I just think it is amusing and stupid that people who sit on their couch think "USA is fantastic! We won the most medals!" when they did shite to earn anything.

Following the apparent logic, Coke is better than Pepsi because Coke-drinking athletes won all the medals.

"In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

[ Parent ]

You forgot its other "True Spirit" (none / 0) (#149)
by nlscb on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 11:11:08 AM EST

According to this VERY interesting post and article. It really is a big love in - so to speak ;)

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

So I think the math is different (none / 1) (#135)
by hubrix on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 02:30:36 PM EST

Different countries send different numbers of athletes to the games. I think the medal counts should be in terms of medal percentages of athletes sent per capita. What do others think? I'd figure it out but I'm not sure where to get all the data.

Corrections (none / 1) (#136)
by gerdemb on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:27:24 PM EST

As several people have pointed out the third column of the table should be titled "Millions of people per medal." Another astute reader noticed that population numbers are rounded to the nearest million. Using all the significant digits of population makes some small differences in the ranking of countries. Look here for a more accurate list using World Bank data (instead of the CIA FactBook numbers for this article) http://simon.forsyth.net/olympics.html

Very interesting... (1.14 / 7) (#140)
by ok on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 04:55:49 AM EST


what about the nation of Nike? (2.50 / 2) (#141)
by bloodnose on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 01:14:46 PM EST

I saw their flags on many of the Olympic atheletes. They should have won lots of medals per capita.

Interesting... (3.00 / 2) (#143)
by skyknight on Sat Sep 04, 2004 at 03:40:09 PM EST

I think that there are a lot of things in the world that are "scored" in highly dubious ways. Academics stands out in my mind, particularly at the university level. I've always been of a mind to take the most challenging load that I could handle without snapping, so as to extract the maximum intellectual value from my time spent in academia. Other people, as I'm sure you know, take what they need to graduate and try to maximize their GPA. They look better than me on paper, but when push comes to shove I can mop the floor with them. Personally, I'd rather have the respect of my colleagues than a 4.0 GPA of which I'd have to constantly remind them. "But, but... look what I did in a highly contrived environment all those years ago! This number says I'm better than you!"

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Employers care only about what you studied (none / 1) (#148)
by nlscb on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 10:16:57 AM EST

Almost no employer gives a damn about what your gpa was or where you studied (as long as it was somewhere they have heard of and know has good standards - of which there are plenty outside of Ivy League/Oxbridge elite). In fact, what they really would like is job experience, so anyone out there who doesn't already know, for God's sake use your summer for internships and/or extra classes.

Getting mixed grades in Business/Tech/Hard Science/Math is going to get you a decent, if not fabulous, job, while straight A's in art history is a straight shot to a career with your name on your shirt and asking "Would you like fried with that?"

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Indeed... (none / 0) (#151)
by skyknight on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 08:27:37 PM EST

I've managed to have some really good internships at big name companies during summers, and during the year I took off between undergrad and grad study to work, I had a solid job doing tangible work with a lot of responsibility. As such, things are working out reasonably well for me. Still, though, some organizations do think that grades are important, and I think it asinine.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Funny that with your enriched intellect... (none / 0) (#150)
by LlamaSTi on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 12:31:32 PM EST

... you failed to notice that the above stats chart has the third column backwards.  It isn't medals/million, it's millions/medal.  Guess you should have taken a few "bird" courses and improved your social skills instead...

[ Parent ]
Just a detail (well, a few, actually) (none / 0) (#154)
by rmn on Thu Sep 09, 2004 at 07:12:05 PM EST

Just a small detail. Portugal does not have 11 million inhabitants; there are probably 11 to 12 million people with portuguese nationality, but about 2.5 million of them live outside Portugal (and most have double nationality). I don't know about other countries, but in some cases this could skew the results.

Also, counting just the number of medals isn't very relevant, because, even if a country completely dominates one sport, it can never get more than 3 medals in that sport (in team sports, never more than one). And one country that has 20 people in 4th place in several sports probably has more developed athletics (or whatever) than another country that has a single gold-medalist.

IMO, a bigger sample should be used (ex., from 1st to 8th place - the places that are worth an olympic diploma, and that usually mean a presence in the final). And athletes should never be counted twice (ex., if a guy wins both the 100 and 200 metres, that's not because his country "grows" a lot of good athletes, it's just because he specifically is very good).

Either way, I think I can use this article as evidence that, to get in good shape, I need a trip to the Bahamas. ;)


The Bahamas - the real medal winner of the Athens Olympics | 158 comments (109 topical, 49 editorial, 0 hidden)
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