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Author Topic:   2012 Olympics
Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 151 of 181 (670675)
08-17-2012 8:32 AM
Reply to: Message 139 by Modulous
08-16-2012 2:27 PM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
Mod writes:
We'd have arguably won even more medals had they not put those limits on the entries.
I am not saying that the restrictions make no difference at all to any country or any event. I am saying that the idea that the US specifically is being woefully disadvantaged in terms of per-capita medal position because it has a huge swathe of world beating athletes sitting at home as a result of those pesky restrictions just doesn't appear to be true.
They presumably sent the best they have and they got the medal tally they got. Would sending the second tier of athletes as well really have elevated them to a significantly better per-capita position?
Bluegenes writes:
Could the U.S. possibly get 320 medals in a modern Olympics? Hypothetically, yes. It's the "size" equivalent of Britain's 65. Wealth is certainly no problem, so the factors preventing it would have to fit into the broad category of culture.
I am essentially agreeing with Bluegens analysis above. That is what I am referring to here when disputing those (Oni and Caf) who seem to be arguing that the US specifically is somehow at a great disadvantage because of the participation limitations in individual events.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 139 by Modulous, posted 08-16-2012 2:27 PM Modulous has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 154 by Modulous, posted 08-17-2012 8:54 AM Straggler has replied

  
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 152 of 181 (670677)
08-17-2012 8:41 AM
Reply to: Message 150 by Straggler
08-17-2012 8:20 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
My point is that simply throwing numbers at an event isn’t how medals are won. Getting medals at an event requires being good at that event, Specifically it involves being better than the other competitors from other nations also competing in that event at that point in time.
It seems a bit inconsistent, in my opinion, to acknowledge this, and then to insist on evaluating medal count on a per capita basis.
It is you who seems to be making the rather bizarre claim that just entering lots of people (or teams) in an event is some sort of statistical route to success because actually being good at that event doesn’t really count for much in terms of winning.
No one has made any such claim. But despite being the best team, the US basketball team was not invincible and could have been beaten on some nights. Having a second team would reduce the odds of the US missing out on a medal.
Further Onifre has clarified what he was talking out re the US wrestling team.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.
Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own. George Bernard Shaw

This message is a reply to:
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 153 of 181 (670679)
08-17-2012 8:54 AM
Reply to: Message 152 by NoNukes
08-17-2012 8:41 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
Straggler writes:
My point is that simply throwing numbers at an event isn’t how medals are won. Getting medals at an event requires being good at that event, Specifically it involves being better than the other competitors from other nations also competing in that event at that point in time.
NN writes:
It seems a bit inconsistent, in my opinion, to acknowledge this, and then to insist on evaluating medal count on a per capita basis.
Winning a medal for a nation in an event is about having one of the best three competitors in that event in the competition at that point. This is dependent on a number of factors. The wealth of the nation certainly seems relevant. The "sporting culture" is being put forward as a point of discussion. And the pool of people to pick your competitors from obviously is of significant consequence.
But that is very different to the idea that simply turning up in numbers is some sort of route to sporting success in the way that Caf suggested.
Caf writes:
The more teams you have, the more chance you have to win. I'm not sure what's difficult to understand about this.
It is the quality of athletes representing a nation rather than how many of them that will ultimately determine medal count.
If Kiribati (population 100,000) had entered a 1000 athletes it still almost certainly wouldn't have won any Olympic medals would it?
NN writes:
Further Onifre has clarified what he was talking out re the US wrestling team.
Sure. So my question to both you and him is this - Do you really think that the inclusion of a bunch of second tier US athletes would have sent the US medal tally rocketing up the per-capita medal table?
If not - What is your point?

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 154 of 181 (670680)
08-17-2012 8:54 AM
Reply to: Message 151 by Straggler
08-17-2012 8:32 AM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
I am not saying that the restrictions make no difference at all to any country or any event. I am saying that the idea that the US specifically is being woefully disadvantaged in terms of per-capita medal position because it has a huge swathe of world beating athletes sitting at home as a result of those pesky restrictions just doesn't appear to be true.
I completely agree that the effect, if any, would be small for many events.
But where luck plays a significant role (ball games spring to mind, but gymnastics too), sending more competitors could make a difference.
In some events where the top 5 are completely dominant and luck is less of a factor (like the 100m), the effect more or less vanishes.
I am essentially agreeing with Bluegens analysis above. That is what I am referring to here when disputing those (Oni and Caf) who seem to be arguing that the US specifically is somehow at a great disadvantage because of the participation limitations in individual events.
And I agree too. But there is a disadvantage to being a large individual country as opposed to a collection of smaller ones, however small. If the US could send three competitors/teams per state I expect they'd do a bit better.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 151 by Straggler, posted 08-17-2012 8:32 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 155 of 181 (670681)
08-17-2012 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 154 by Modulous
08-17-2012 8:54 AM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
mOD writes:
But where luck plays a significant role (ball games spring to mind, but gymnastics too), sending more competitors could make a difference.
Sure. It is for this reason that I think many have reservations about team-ball sports in particular being included in the Olympics.
Mod writes:
But there is a disadvantage to being a large individual country as opposed to a collection of smaller ones, however small. If the US could send three competitors/teams per state I expect they'd do a bit better.
Sure. A bit. As would China, Russia etc. But those who are putting this forward as the reason for the relatively low US per-capita position are fooling themselves.
The question posed is about the culture of sport in the US and what (if anything) the US medal tally tells us about that. Those blathering on about the exclusion of second tier wrestlers and suchlike as some sort of reason for the US per-capita position are missing the point Bluegenes is making IMHO.

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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 2562 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 156 of 181 (670683)
08-17-2012 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 148 by Blue Jay
08-16-2012 10:30 PM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
Bluejay writes:
As a counterexample, the US women placed 3rd, 4th and 5th in qualifying for the individual all-around in gymnastics, but only two were allowed to compete. So, the 23rd and 24th best women got to compete, but the 4th best (who had a real shot at a medal) didn't.
In beach volleyball, USA had 3 men's teams in qualifying position, but only two were allowed to compete. Both won their groups, but were upset early in the tournament. Without the entry restrictions, the Italian team that beat Dallhauser and Rogers wouldn't have qualified, and it's a whole different tournament with three US teams that all have a reasonable chance of medaling.
I give the 5th ranked gymnast a 1 in 3 chance of medalling, the 7th ranked men's BVB team a 1 in 4, and the 13th ranked women's team 1 in 20. That does mean that, with the three combined, it's odds on (about 60/40) that you would have collected another medal, so we'll give you a bronze. Look carefully through all the games, and we might find a few other reasonable "maybes". So, I'm happy to up my estimate from one to 2 to 4 medals per. games.
Those examples come about from not allowing a third contestant (or pairing) in 3 medal events, not from the "fourth person" situation. I stick to my view that a fourth choice runner or swimmer from any country medalling would be so rare as to make no real difference to national tallies.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 148 by Blue Jay, posted 08-16-2012 10:30 PM Blue Jay has replied

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caffeine
Member (Idle past 1109 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 157 of 181 (670693)
08-17-2012 10:47 AM
Reply to: Message 150 by Straggler
08-17-2012 8:20 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
It is you who seems to be making the rather bizarre claim that just entering lots of people (or teams) in an event is some sort of statistical route to success because actually being good at that event doesn’t really count for much in terms of winning. This is patently not how competitive sport works.
I'm not sure why you're so resistant to this idea, nor why you keep representing it as a dichotomy between 'more entrants' and 'being better'. By arguing that entering more teams is an advantage, I am not claiming that the quality of teams is irrelevant. The better the team, the more chance it has of winning. This is obvious. But, imagine the two following scenarios:
Scenario A - Countries A, B, C, D all enter one team each, their best team.
Scenario B - Countries A, B and C all enter their best team. Country D enters their best 15 teams.
Now, in which scenario is country D more likely to win gold? In Scenario B, they're almost guaranteed to have a team in the final, and then, even if it is not the better team, once there it always has a chance of winning on the day. And it's not like the difference in quality between, for example, Germany's best basketball team and the USA's fourth best basketball team is equivalent to the difference between a Premiership club and a pub side.
That's all that's being argued here. Having more entrants gives you more chance of winning. It obviously doesn't guarantee it.
I am essentially agreeing with Bluegens analysis above. That is what I am referring to here when disputing those (Oni and Caf) who seem to be arguing that the US specifically is somehow at a great disadvantage because of the participation limitations in individual events
That's not what I said, though. I pointed out that it would benefit other countries as well. Any country or group of countries who are dominant in a particular sport would benefit from having the caps removed. Rowing's an obvious one, since it's one that limits entrants to one per country. The top rowing countries, like Britain, Australia and Hungary would be able to get two of three medals in the same events, which now they can't. Allowing a third entrant in badminton would help China get an extra bronze or two. It would benefit any country that has more Olympic quality competitors than they are currently allowed to submit.
Like I said, overall, I think it would add a few medals to the US' count.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 150 by Straggler, posted 08-17-2012 8:20 AM Straggler has replied

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2782 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 158 of 181 (670702)
08-17-2012 11:57 AM
Reply to: Message 156 by bluegenes
08-17-2012 9:31 AM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
Hi, Bluegenes.
bluegenes writes:
So, I'm happy to up my estimate from one to 2 to 4 medals per. games.
Yeah, I think that's probably about right.
Although, if, instead of weighting by population or GDP, you weighted by average health and fitness of the country's population, I bet you would find that the USA performs very high for its level of obesity and heart disease.

-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)
Darwin loves you.

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 159 of 181 (670704)
08-17-2012 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 157 by caffeine
08-17-2012 10:47 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
Caf writes:
Having more entrants gives you more chance of winning.
And my point is that the number of entrants is almost entirely irrelevant compared to the quality of entrants. No amount of additional team members will make any difference to medal haul unless those additional members are of sufficient quality to make a difference to the result. Quality of competitor not number of competitors in a particular event is what counts in Olympic medal terms.
Caf writes:
Having more entrants gives you more chance of winning.
Like I said above - Kiribati (population 100,000) could be allowed an Olympic team 4 times the size of everyone else's and still not expect a single medal. Why? Because the number of entrants allowed per team is of little consequence when the population from which it is picked is so small.
Caf writes:
Like I said, overall, I think it would add a few medals to the US' count.
OK. If you don't think that that the inclusion of a bunch of second tier US athletes would have sent the US medal tally rocketing up the per-capita medal table either then why are you disagreeing with me rather than Oni?
Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 160 of 181 (670706)
08-17-2012 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 158 by Blue Jay
08-17-2012 11:57 AM


Re: Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?
BluJ writes:
Although, if, instead of weighting by population or GDP, you weighted by average health and fitness of the country's population, I bet you would find that the USA performs very high for its level of obesity and heart disease.
Indeed!! So does this provide us with an answer to the qustion: "Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?"

This message is a reply to:
 Message 158 by Blue Jay, posted 08-17-2012 11:57 AM Blue Jay has not replied

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2782 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 161 of 181 (670716)
08-17-2012 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 159 by Straggler
08-17-2012 12:52 PM


Re: Removing restrictions
Hi, Straggler.
Straggler writes:
And my point is that the number of entrants is almost entirely irrelevant compared to the quality of entrants.
I think the point is about the number of quality entrants, not about simple numbers. And, in some cases, it is demonstrably the case that entry restrictions prevented high-quality athletes from competing when they had a very good shot at a medal (Jordyn Wieber is the best example, in my mind).
It certainly isn't the reason why the USA is under-performing on Bluegenes' per-capita standards, but it is a good theoretical challenge to the appropriateness of the strictly per-capita standards. If someone were interested in crunching numbers to determine which country has the best sporting culture using medal counts as the standard of measure, they'd need to apply a correction for entry restrictions. And, the correction would tend to work in the favor of large countries with large talent pools, and work against small countries with small talent pools.
But, if we wanted a real measure of sporting success, some measure incorporating individual rankings would probably be more accurate than medal counts. And, in this case, entry restrictions would have larger effects on the comparison between countries.

-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)
Darwin loves you.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 159 by Straggler, posted 08-17-2012 12:52 PM Straggler has replied

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 162 of 181 (670849)
08-20-2012 8:51 AM
Reply to: Message 161 by Blue Jay
08-17-2012 2:04 PM


Re: Removing restrictions
Bluejay writes:
It certainly isn't the reason why the USA is under-performing on Bluegenes' per-capita standards, but it is a good theoretical challenge to the appropriateness of the strictly per-capita standards.
I don't think anyone is insisting on "strict per capita standards". The point being made is that there are a number of factors which contribute to national sporting success (specifically Olympic medal success in this thread). Wealth is a factor. Population is a factor. And the point under discussion is the factor being called "sporting culture" (whatever exactly we mean by that).
Given it's population and wealth the US isn't performing particularly impressively. Unless this can be significantly attributed to participation restrictions (which you don't seem to think it can) this leaves "sporting culture" or some as yet unraised factor as the reason for this.
So I am not denying that the entry of three US basketball teams or the addition or of a wrestler here or there might up the US medal tally by a bit. What I am disputing is that this has any significant bearing on the per capita performance and the question being asked "Is the U.S.A. a top sporting culture?"
That others have seized upon participation restrictions seems to me to be a way of avoiding considering the factors that genuinely matter.
BluJ writes:
But, if we wanted a real measure of sporting success, some measure incorporating individual rankings would probably be more accurate than medal counts.
Medal counts are probably not a very reliable measure of "sporting culture" (which I think we probably need to define at least somewhat in order to answer questions about it) anyway. Britain is still basking in the glow of what has collectively been deemed a successful medal haul but as a nation we are increasingly going down the American lifestyle route of cars, malls and ever more sedentary lifestyles. I'm not sure that is symptomatic of or conducive to a "top sporting culture" whatever Olympic medals have been won recently.

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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 163 of 181 (670855)
08-20-2012 10:48 AM
Reply to: Message 162 by Straggler
08-20-2012 8:51 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
I don't think anyone is insisting on "strict per capita standards".
Good.
And the point under discussion is the factor being called "sporting culture" (whatever exactly we mean by that).
I agree that this "sporting culture" idea is nonsense. The US has a system for preparing athletes for the Olympics as does every other country that won an appreciable number of medals. But the US system does not pervade the US culture. The system only impacts the few athletes that are identified as having world class talents.
And it is not like the US gov't dumps huge amounts of tax payer money into training athletes. US athletes are not state sponsored.
Given it's population and wealth the US isn't performing particularly impressively.
But this I respectfully disagree with. The US has a higher medal count, using any metric you chose than both large countries four times it size, and small countries. The count includes far more gold medals than anyone else. I think that's impressive.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)
The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal and hasten the resurrection of the dead. William Lloyd Garrison.
Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own. George Bernard Shaw

This message is a reply to:
 Message 162 by Straggler, posted 08-20-2012 8:51 AM Straggler has replied

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 150 days)
Posts: 10333
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 164 of 181 (670867)
08-20-2012 12:17 PM
Reply to: Message 163 by NoNukes
08-20-2012 10:48 AM


Re: Removing restrictions
Given that wealth and population size seem to be the overriding factors in determining Olympic medal success the US coming top seems to be about par for the course (just to throw in some alternative sporting parlance)

This message is a reply to:
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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(3)
Message 165 of 181 (670882)
08-20-2012 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 163 by NoNukes
08-20-2012 10:48 AM


The US has a system for preparing athletes for the Olympics as does every other country that won an appreciable number of medals. But the US system does not pervade the US culture. The system only impacts the few athletes that are identified as having world class talents.
There's more to it than that. From watching American Movies and TV, it might be unremarkable for a high school or university to have its own athletics track. I don't know how common it is, but I'm willing to bet its more common than it is in the UK where most schools have (at best) a grass field that once a year gets a track painted onto it for a sports day.
If it is the case that there are more tracks per capita, that kids have much easier access to tracks, then it stands to reason that there is a better chance of 'capturing' potential world class sprinters. A good solid grass roots system is essential to consistently producing world class athletes.
The system doesn't just impact only the elite - it impacts everybody, and helps (or hinders) elite athletes realize their potential.
And it is not like the US gov't dumps huge amounts of tax payer money into training athletes. US athletes are not state sponsored.
A state can encourage track and field by investing money into facilities and systems for picking out future athletes. Then there are grants and the like, these may come from a government, or a private institution or a sponsor.
Furthermore - a culture doesn't have to be state sponsored to be a culture. A culture which glorifies academics over sport, may find that they are less successful in sport. A culture that rewards sporting success with for instance acclaim or wealth, will probably do better in sport than ones that don't.
But this I respectfully disagree with. The US has a higher medal count, using any metric you chose than both large countries four times it size, and small countries. The count includes far more gold medals than anyone else. I think that's impressive.
The point is that having more medals than a country with a smaller population is not in itself all that impressive. Out of every 3,000,000 Americans, 1 is a 2012 Olympic medal winner. It was about 1 in 700,000 Australians. About 1 in 1,000,000 Brits. I chose countries with reasonably large populations to avoid outliers having a big impact. That said, Jamaica does consistently well for its size (almost always in the top ten per capita rankings over the past 50 years).
If we assume Olympiads aren't biased towards the Australian gene pool, for instance, then it appears that Australia is doing something to extract more of its raw talent and shape it towards Olympic success (and in recent history, 1 in 700,000 is a poor showing for Australia).
And naturally, we shouldn't expect poor countries to do so well, especially in certain sports. With less money for the people, they spend less on sport, which reduces their capacity to identify, and potentially subsidise the training of, a future elite athlete. Britain has a GDP/medal ratio of 37 (US billion), Australia, 39 and the US 145.
America was somehow less successful in extracting Olympic talent from the potential athletic people pool they had available and getting them up to an elite level.
That isn't to say that America has a poor sporting culture though, since the Olympics is not all sport, and few countries focus on an Olympic sport as their main cultural choice (Jamaica may be one of the exceptions). A young American teenage boy who finds out he can run 100m in 10.8 seconds has a choice: Become a wide receiver/half back whatever and if he has other relevant athletic skills, potentially turn pro in one of the many professional team spots available, and earn lots of money and acclaim (and failing that, get laid a fair few times). Or, hone his sprinting skills in a largely amateur sport, hoping to become one of a small handful of people able to command respectable sponsorship earnings/ appearance money/ prize wins.
In a country with such massive wages being commanded by the likes of professional (American) Football, Baseball and Basketball, and such small ones (if any) for Olympic events - it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn that many of America's finest athletes are doing things other than honing themselves for an Olympic event.
A per capita and GDP weighted measures are interesting, but it's not like they're the only thing worth looking at. But I think it's worth noting if people are going to suggest that having the most medals mean America is objectively the best or things of that nature. Whether or not its 'impressive' depends on how you look at it, really. Is it impressive that America won more medals than Grenada? Well no, its not. What is impressive is that Grenada won a medal. A gold one. In an event that has historically been owned by the USA. The men's 400m. He didn't just get a gold, he got in the top 10 times of all time. A list composed only of Americans (and now him), an event that America have won gold in (by my quick count) 19 times. Go Grenada. Though that's less impressive, given its probably rightly considered to be an outlier.
Is it impressive that America beat Britain? Well not really. You've got 5 times the size of talent pool and a whole host more money than us.
Is it impressive that America beat China? Well, yes, actually I think it is. Well done. China has a bigger population (and only 1 in 15,000,000 of them got medals) but America has more money. It's really the only fair direct competition that America has, and its a tough contest.
Is it impressive that America beat America? Wait what? Well you got the best Gold Medal count for a good long while (and 1984 doesn't count, I think), so well done that country there too.
In short - it's practically impossible to say that one country impressively 'won' the Olympics in any sense. Total number of medals (or golds or whatever) is certainly one way to look at it. And really, the only thing you can compare it to is your nearest historical rival, or your own historical performance. You certainly would be foolish to compare America to Grenada in 2012 and declare America the superior one based purely on total number of medals won.
On the other hand, per capita is far from perfect, although I think its best use is in comparing approximately similar countries. I think Australia deserves particular mention, for instance, for its sporting success considering its relatively low population.
And really, wow, I didn't intend to write that much.


I couldn't be bothered doing the maths myself, so the numbers are unchecked by me and extracted from Olympic Medals per Capita

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