Just to be clear; this isn’t a blog about that programme, the biggest loser, where in some sort of reality tv bullying (come self-help), a load of overweight people go on a television show to lose weight and fight for a cash price and for the demeaning title that is “the biggest loser”. I guess in a “biggest loser of weight” is how its meant – not as some sort of insult – but I haven’t watched it, so I really am not an expert.
Anyway, the title is, in fact, in reference to an article the Wall Street Journal published during the Olympics – by Jared Diamond, of Guns, Germs & Steel fame surprisingly – titled ‘If Only There Were a Medal for Last Place’.
Basically, for some reason – maybe cause we were hosting such a great Olympics, showing up all those held in the US – the WSJ made an ‘loser’ medal table which showed what countries came last most often with a lead medal given to last place, second-to-last getting tin and third-to-last attaining zinc.
Well, forget our gold rush (well, thats their idea) as it turns out, it was Team GB who have this dubious honour. Now the US media have already annoyed me both with NBC’s poor coverage of the Olympics – especially cutting out the 7/7 bombing tribute of the opening ceremony – but even more so when I saw a clip the other day that showed Britain in fourth place in the medal table because for some reason, they were placing it by most medals rather than the standard; gold first, silver second, bronze third format.
Why? Because the US had more medals than China at this time, but less golds; propagandist media coverage there. (In reality, it should be done in a way where Gold is given 3 points, Silver 2 and Bronze 1 as the current system means a team could have 100 medals but come 50th by having no golds compared to a country with one gold which could then be placed in the top ten). It may just turn out this how the US does it’s medal tables, but why? No one else does.
Anyway, this is just the icing of the cake. Yes, Britain is probably last, but it is a deceptive statistic. In race-like sports -swimming, rowing and athletics, for example, coming ‘last’ in a final actually means you are in the top eight of the world; in fact, you can come 6th and still be classed as a ‘loser’ in this statistic. For example Kayaker Tim Brabants reached the Olympic final, but came last; so is classed a lead medal. It is therefore flawed in that you are one of the better athletes, just not in the top three. If this was a real thing, it would be therefore bad to get into a final, rather than a highlight of your career.
Secondly, Britain entered teams in all events – in ones where they had no chance or were new too, such as volleyball, water polo (no international experience in 50 years) and handball as examples, just in order to have home representation. Whats wrong with that? It means more exposure for this sports and more likelihood that supporters will be able to root for their home nation. I think the WSJ missed the point of the Olympics really – home support is key as well especially for London to ‘inspire a generation’
Overall, it just shows a typical snobby American view. It also ignores the fact that for the developed nations, population is a key factor as to why countries do well; aka, US as more populous fully-developed country does well because it has so many potential athletes)