Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mother said not to medal

So it’s Olympic season, bringing with it the usual wow moments of amazing feats, the tut-tutting over bad calls by the officials, the antics of ruffled athletes, and a staggering amount of indifference on my part. I am not a sports fan. I’m not against them mind, I just don’t have a personal need to know what’s going on sportswise.

Except I’ve found a discrepancy on the way the overall winner is determined. Sports have many rules to ensure a level playing field, the Olympics themselves have strict rules of conduct and sportsmanship, but the medal count...that seems open to interpretation.

I present to you the medal results as reported by American network NBC on Sunday, August 17 at 3:30 p.m.

America is top with 65 medals won. China comes in second and Great Britain comes in fifth. Well done everyone I’m sure.

At exactly the same time and date though, the BBC reports things differently. China is in top place, the U.S. is second and Great Britain comes in third.

It’s nothing to do with time delay in the reporting—there is a four hour difference in the "as of" times on each site, but both tables show exactly the same numbers of medals for those countries. No, the NBC medal table is ordered according to total number won, the BBC (and the IOC) orders according to number of gold medals at the top, and when the number of golds is tied, you look at the number of silvers and then bronzes.

I’m not the first to notice. Sports fans are spitting venom at each other all over the place about which way to determine the best sports nation. But this blog is occasionally read by friends and cyber-wanderers, not daily by thousands that value it for its up-to-the-minute commentaries and behavior altering revelations, so maybe its news to some of them like it was to me.

Oo - and thanks to DG who sent me this link . It lets you sort medals won (golds or total) by polulation. By which method the most succesful team of these games is either the Bahamas (one medal for every 165,500 citizens) or Jamaca (one gold for every 452,000 citizens).