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Aug 24

How do Americans really rank countries on their Olympic medals?

Written by bianxiangbianqiao on Sunday, August 24th, 2008 at 1:51 pm
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The answer is “whichever way that looks good on us”.

The Olympics simply won’t allow me to go back to work. Came across this cute piece on backchina.com (Chinese source). Here is my rough translation.

“Title: Come see USA Today’s medal tables for the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

Recently there have been a lot of discussions about how to rank countries on their medal haul (per gold or total medals). Some people insist that Americans have always ranked countries according to total medals…. I checked out the USA Today and here are the results….

(Screen shot of USA Today’s 2004 Olympics medal table, USA ranked number one according to Gold and Total medal counts. BXBQ does not know how to include pictures in a post).

(Screen shot of USA Today’s 2008 Olympics medal table, USA still ranks number one, but only according to Total medal counts.)

The different ways of ranking medal counts clearly demonstrate American Double Standard.”

We are again impressed by the Western public opinions. If you have double standards for evaluating yourself, is there any wonder that you have double standards evaluating yourself and others? Again it takes clear vision to see that the Emperor has no clothes on.


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51 Responses to “How do Americans really rank countries on their Olympic medals?”

  1. Hemulen Says:

    Is this blog about the US? It seems that the purpose of BXBQ’s posts is no longer to remove the Fool’s Mountain, but to pile more dirt on it.

  2. Glyx Says:

    😀 It won’t change anything if American rank them NO.2. Can we compare with the East Germany by the per capita medals? They only have 17 million population.

    People are tend to rank things that made them look better, not to mention they rank this way for many years.

  3. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Hemulen,

    “Is this blog about the US?”

    You understand a culture by comparing it with other cultures. Can you understand China in isolation without a framework of reference consisting of US, Europe, Japan and etc?

  4. Hemulen Says:

    @BXBQ

    You understand a culture by comparing it with other cultures. Can you understand China in isolation without a framework of reference consisting of US, Europe, Japan and etc?

    You call the above a comparison? To me it looks like tit-for-tat reasoning. Besides, I thought you insisted that there are no universal values, and hence, no meaningful comparisons can be made.

  5. B.Smith Says:

    Like Glyx said, “It won’t change anything.” On the American tables, it still shows the Total Medal count and the Gold Medal count. Nothing is being falsified or lied about. It is just a different way of ranking, and one that I think many Americans would support, as it give credit to all medal winners, not just those who won gold. And it puts us on the top, which we like 😉

    Either way, how is this news? Who cares? Everyone still knows China got the most Golds, and America got the most overall. What a silly thing to get upset about.

  6. byte_me Says:

    顶无聊。

  7. andy Says:

    I guess the media simply want to please the readers… chinese media rank countries by gold, US media rank countries by total. what’s the big deal.

  8. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    I find the expression of “disinteresting” in the medal counts is quite interesting. A few days ago this topic was red hot in many Non-Chinese (Western) blogs. Did I miss the bandwagon again?

    I happen to come across this column in today’s Washington Post by Thomas Boswell. After China has staged a “perfect” Olympics, he downgraded China’s future “from a buy to hold”. Read it. It’s interesting, especially his analysis about why China’s economic success over the last 25 years was a gift from the West. Reminds me a Chinese saying “骑驴看帐本,走着瞧。”.

    If you read the papers over the last couple of days, you find all the pieces falling into places. You can’t miss the pattern if you have an eye, a lot of green-eyed envy, distain and disinterest in the sour grapes.

    The Olympics have been such an intense educational experience for me and I feel deeply grateful to all of you who have put up with my rant and criticized me. You have taught me a lot and made me a better person.

  9. Chops Says:

    “China’s haul of 51 gold medals was the largest since the Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988. Fielding athletes groomed since childhood in sports academies, it won medals in 25 different sports, including its first ever in sailing, beach volleyball and field hockey.

    Not since 1936, when Nazi Germany prevailed at the Berlin Olympics, had a country other than the U.S. or the Soviet Union/Russia led the gold medal list…”

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jXvPSGml9vUxDzvjnf-beOdDRLrwD92OJ1AO0

  10. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    Chops:

    “Not since 1936, when Nazi Germany prevailed at the Berlin Olympics, had a country other than the U.S. or the Soviet Union/Russia led the gold medal list…”

    Thanks for the insight, another piece of the gestalt falling into place. Wow.

  11. FOARP Says:

    @BXBQ – What can I say, repeating a post that Charles Liu already made (and attributed to anti-CNN) and calling it your own research – why didn’t you check MSNBC? CNN? ESPN? All of which used total medals both in 2000 and 2004 – I even said this in Charles Liu’s post. Unlike you, Charles Liu didn’t decide to draw any conclusions about western perfidy from it, he just noted it in a light-hearted ‘isn’t this funny’ sort of way – and he at least knew how to post pictures.

    For the sake of this blog: please stop posting until you have something to say about China, preferably something interesting, but if you can’t make it interesting, at least make it positive, as that is the point of this blog. One more tip – posting insulting xenophobic rants and then carrying on as if butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth in the comments section doesn’t impress anyone.

  12. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    FOAP

    Hats off to Charles Liu. Charles Liu get the credit.

    I never called it my research. The link to the original Chinese sources is in the post.

  13. yo Says:

    I agree with the others, this issue seems a bit superficial. It’s in the eye of the beholder IMO. I think both are great accomplishments.

    I remember some American news anchors made comments saying the U.S. counts by total, but the Chinese count by gold for “obvious reasons”, which IMO implies that the U.S. has the right metric, but I do not believe this is the prevailing thought, and I see many other news organizations citing both.

  14. wrtzh Says:

    Whatever Chinese are saying, Europeans have the most medals. EU-sportsmen flushed chinese down a lavatry and have won most gold silver medals.. Even when EU has only 1/3 of population it has the best Sportsmen in the world. pitty chinese..

  15. yo Says:

    oh yeah, imo, if people really want to measure who did “best”, I suggest using a weighted count:

    gold : 3
    Silver: 2
    bronze:1

    Something like that, but this is purely for a hypothetical metric count. 🙂 I mean, does 3 bronze really mean one gold???? Off the top of my head, yeah, but some might disagree. But whatever, just putting it out there.

  16. yo Says:

    @wrtzh,
    Ah, the EU, they have a flag that no one salutes and an anthem no one sings 🙂

    Actually, I can’t take credit for that, I heard it from George Will.

  17. Wukailong Says:

    Folks, there’s a whole world out there, not just the US. This is just another one on the list: mile, feet, metal count. Get over it.

  18. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    FOARP,

    “For the sake of this blog: please stop posting until you have something to say about China, preferably something interesting, but if you can’t make it interesting, at least make it positive, as that is the point of this blog. One more tip – posting insulting xenophobic rants and then carrying on as if butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth in the comments section doesn’t impress anyone.”

    This is a very puzzling observation and deeply hurts my feelings. Based on the responses I have received, my humble opinions and insights (which you rudely and cruelely denigrated as “rant”) have stirred heated discussions and generated very thoughtful intellectual products. Both ChinaWatcher and S. K. Cheung have been extremely articulate and eloquent in their refutation of my humble opinion. I myself have become wiser and better through the fruitful exchange with all my respondents, including you.

    What do you do when you can’t win a round of debate? You just dismiss your opponent? That does not impress me as elegant.

    I cannot talk about anything but China? What is the logic of that stipulation, my lord? Can you tell USA Today, CNN etc. to stop “covering” China-related issues?

    Despite your insistence on bossing me around and lording over me, I still have a lot of affectionate respect for you. Thanks for stopping my and sharing your insights.

  19. wrtzh Says:

    –Ah, the EU, they have a flag that no one salutes and an anthem no one sings..–

    i see you knows ABSOLUTLY NOTHING ABOUT EU and its people..
    And say Georgy he is an very big uneducated looser..

    Aside that EU has still most medals of this olimypics. like olympics before and before and before..

  20. MoneyBall Says:

    @wrtzh

    “i see you knows ABSOLUTLY NOTHING ABOUT EU and its people..
    And say Georgy he is an very big uneducated looser..

    Aside that EU has still most medals of this olimypics. like olympics before and before and before..”

    I know there are 150 million wingnuts in the states I didnt there are fen-qings in EU, LOL.

  21. James Says:

    “Ah, the EU, they have a flag that no one salutes and an anthem no one sings”

    Well.. how about 4000 kids?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MOqGc81wII

    Or how about?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOcfdrWCs_8

    [Personal insult removed] James, the tone of this particular thread has not been exactly positive. Let’s not make it worse by adding name calling into the mix. – DJ

  22. Samy Says:

    dear yo..

    Actualy Gerogian President has EU-Flag and not one of the USA behind him.

    if you know what i mean..

  23. James Says:

    @ yo..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoINU7w6VFk

    27 armies saluting to EU flag on a Bastile day. Have you seen a same for anyone other flag?

  24. DJ Says:

    Come on guys. Let’s cool it.

    I rather like this article from WaPo in summarizing the performances: “U.S. Finishes With Respect for China, Satisfaction With Showing“. IOC President Rogge is quoted in the article and seems to have addressed this topic quite properly.

    “China has won the most gold medals and the United States of America won the most total,” International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said during a news conference Sunday. “I believe each country will highlight what suits it best. One country will say ‘Gold medals.’ The other country will say, ‘The total tally counts.’ We take no position on that.”

    If only he could have included EU in the discussion…

    And the following is fun to read as well:

    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.

  25. James Says:

    @DJ

    thx.. actualy only Michael Phelps did 8 medals. i think US president should spend some days of White House vacation to him. (or name some rivers on the Mars after him)

  26. bianxiangbianqiao Says:

    “President Jacques Rogge said during a news conference Sunday. “I believe each country will highlight what suits it best. One country will say ‘Gold medals.’ The other country will say, ‘The total tally counts.’ We take no position on that.”

    Yeah, the Boss is right.

  27. DJ Says:

    James,

    I think Jim Scherr meant the number of individuals returning to the U.S. with one or more gold medals to show for herself/himself. That is: the team sports golds, e.g. soccer, basketball, count as one per team on the medal table but the number of individuals getting one is a lot more.

  28. James Says:

    I think Jim Scherr meant the number of individuals returning to the U.S. with one or more gold medals to show for herself/himself. That is: the team sports golds, e.g. soccer, basketball, count as one per team on the medal table but the number of individuals getting one is a lot more.

    Hmm.. i agree. i think that biggest problem of US-sport is a consentration on few forms of sport..
    and american sport is to expensive.Aside that USA has to many burocrats between sportmen and contest..

  29. Jacky Ma Says:

    Yea Jim Scherr is pointing out that fact that USA and other democratic countries’ athletes will choose their sport of choice and that’s usually team sports. The sports programs and infrastructures in those countries reflect that.

    James, in an olympic point of view yes, its a problem that they concentrate on a few forms of sport. But its only because of the interest and professional leagues. As a democratic nation, it’s not a good way of spending money by pouring resources into developing sports programs for obscure sports the way China has to grab extra medals in the olympics.

    I wonder how many olympic individual athletes there would be if some football players decided to do track instead.

  30. Karma Says:

    There are too many dimensions to measure this Olympics. The Chinese winning the most Gold and the US topping the medal counts are but two. There are many others, such as no pollution issues, no terrorist incidents. More importantly, there are the many individual friendships forged between foreigners and common Chinese on the ground – and the image burrowed into so many common people around the world about a peacefully rising China…

    Don’t make this too political. China being on the rise is not disputed. And there is no doubt this has been an awesome, awesome Olympics!!!

  31. yo Says:

    @James, wrtzh
    lol a little touchy aren’t we? Didn’t know today was EU day, I hope we all are wearing matching blue t-shirts lol Notice I took that remark from George Will and it was suppose to be a lighthearted comment; You guys need to relax.

    Man, now I know how FOARP feel 🙂

  32. MoneyBall Says:

    the “REAL” medal count:

    Gold Silver Bronze Total
    United States 25 26 25 76
    China 23 12 13 48

    http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Update-The-REAL-Olympic-medal-count?urn=oly,102540

  33. MoneyBall Says:

    the “REAL” medal count:

    Gold Silver Bronze Total
    United States 25 26 25 76
    China 23 12 13 48

    http://tinyurl.com/6s6sdt

  34. Derrick Says:

    Personally I don’t like either way of ranking them, I think they should be weighted. Since there really is no “Olympics Winner” awarded there’s no point…but I think it’s more telling if you say each gold is worth 3 bronzes and each silver is worth 2. So as of now, it would be 223(China) vs 220(USA).

  35. yo Says:

    @Derrick

    “Since there really is no “Olympics Winner” awarded there’s no point”

    You hit the nail right on the head, I totally agree!

  36. BMY Says:

    I won’t worry or care about how to count as the NO1

    I will be more excited to see Chinese kids spend more time with organized sports,like what the Americans and Australians kids do, than organized academic exam preparations . That would really transfer a society to a sports society.

    I am totally with karma. This Olympics was a so well planned, well organized,well run games. Not only the athletes ,the organizers, the volunteers, the performers,the construction workers are all deserve medals.

  37. Michelle Says:

    @BXBQ “We are again impressed by the Western public opinions.” Sarcasm is unbecoming an argument aiming to be eloquent and serves to immediately get the hairs up on the backs of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to your own view of the situation.

    Also, while the original post isn’t yours, the conclusion that the way an arguably third rate newspaper ranks countries in the olympics discredits an entire country is, and it’s a pretty poor one.

    I guess it’s possible you put the end quotes in the wrong place?

  38. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Yo #15:
    a points system, that cute 🙂

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To BXBQ:
    Americans being pro-American, always amusing to watch from a Canadian perspective.

    BTW, in the fable, you don’t need particularly good vision to see that the emperor’s new clothes were a little short on fabric; you just needed the cahones to tell him so.

  40. CLC Says:

    NYT d

    id a 4-2-1 point system count and China wound up beating out the U.S. by 18 “medal points.”

    http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/the-medal-rankings-which-country-leads-the-olympics/

  41. James Says:

    @yo

    you still lack education..

  42. Joel Says:

    Both total medals and total gold medals are flawed ways of determining the winner of this nationalistic pissing contest.

    You really, truly want to use Olympic medals to see which country’s people are the most 厉害? Using this method, how many Chinese (or Americans) does it take to equal one Bahamanian? The Bahamas kicks all our butts! Obviously, they are the greatest race and civilization on the face of the earth.

    There – this debate is settled.

    😉

  43. GNZ Says:

    if the first 9 or so countries would just form a temporary alliance they could “piss” on the USA and China in terms of total medals too.
    😛
    It is also Interesting that they are mostly islands.

  44. CLC Says:

    China Bystander discussed how medal are determined by economics: Olympic Gold Medals: Its All About The Economics

  45. yo Says:

    @SKC,
    Thanks, But then again, silver is the first loser so we need to change the point system up a bit…I’ll submit to you an updated scorecard asap 🙂

    @James,
    Nope, my education is pretty damn good; you need to relax and not take things so seriously 😛 It will save you a lot of typing.

  46. CLC Says:

    WSJ put up an interactive map to look at the medal standings, accounting for population and GDP.
    http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/medal-count-by-size-08.html

    “The Bahamas brought home six medals for every million citizens. India, one of the world’s most populated countries, won only three medals — .3% of a medal for every million people. Zimbabwe won only four medals in Beijing, but that’s quite an achievement considering the country’s economy: Zimbabwe won more than six medals for every billion U.S. dollars of GDP. “

  47. James Says:

    @yo

    your education is prety bad. what you need is to learn about forign nations and how to respect instead how to piss someone on internet. it save many lifes if you know what i mean..

  48. yo Says:

    @James,
    lol whatever pal, I’m not the one who got edited by the admin for a personal attack, YOU need to learn respect. If you were “pissed” by my little comment, then you will have some problems here because I’m pretty easy going, others won’t be. There are many people here with diverse opinions and ideas, many who will disagree with you; welcome to fools mountain!

  49. James Says:

    yo Says:

    August 26th, 2008 at 6:15 pm
    @James,
    lol whatever pal, I’m not the one who got edited by the admin for a personal attack, YOU need to learn respect.

    You still lack of education and respect to other people. and to be edited means nothing.

  50. ninja Says:

    why argue bout this…most medals is the logical way to go.

  51. DJ Says:

    Business Week came out with an aritcle “EU ‘Beat’ U.S. and China in the Olympics” showing EU really is the biggest winner at the Olympics.

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