Friday, August 22, 2008

Medals, metals, and mettle . . .

Dan Wetzel, writing for, explains that the United States had better get used to being beaten out by the Chinese in the medal count. In China children are taken from their parents and trained in the sport most appropriate to their body types, so it seems likely that he is right.

Here in the states, athletes leave college and go to the NFL or some other professional league and make millions. Chinese athletes don't have that option. According to Wetzel, they're state property. What is more, the Chinese have targeted solo medals rather than the team sports. It takes fifteen softball players to win one gold, but dozens of gymnasts, swimmers and weight lifters can each take medals home.

The end result: the USA had better get used to being second in the medal count.

So I propose a new method of accounting medals. Simply take the total medal count from the mint - every medal they stamp - and divide them accordingly. So, when the men's hoops team wins gold, we'll put 12 gold medals in our column. When 14 . . . er . . . 16 year-old He Kexin wins gold on the uneven bars, we'll place one tally in the Chinese column. We do the same for each individual and each team sport.

I would be interested to know how the US fares with that sort of accounting. Given our dominance in many of the team sports, I suspect we'll win the medal count, or at least hold our own.

If not, we'll have to hope that the Chinese decide to stop being the new East Germany, in order to keep up.

No comments: