Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A Tale of Two Medal Tables

As I'm about to mention the Olympics, I'd better give a shout out to Chris Hoy who's my brother's girlfriend's cousin (I'm getting used to saying this really fast). Virtually family I'm sure you'll agree. Well, I'm basking in his success while having absolutely nothing to do with it, anyway. Thanks Chris and, oh, congratulations!

Anyway, I was trying to find out if Chris had won yet another Gold for Team GB when I came across an oddity. One site that I check out semi-regularly is Yahoo, mostly because another site that I've set-up sends e-mail there. Yahoo has pretty extensive Olympic coverage of it's own and also hosts Eurosport's coverage.

Now, the Eurosport page has the medal table that is in use in most places. Gold being the most important factor and the other medals just there for ordering purposes (harsh, I realise, but this is how it's done). This morning it looked like this on the Team GB page:

On the more America-centric pages, however, the table is for overall medals because guess what that does the the order. It does this:

That's right! It sticks the Good Ole US of A right at the very top, just where they belong. Despite, you know, being a country where the phrase "It is a sad fact that regardless of effort or talent second place really means you are first in a long line of losers" is used in a motivational poster.

Ordering this way does some weird things to the middle orders too. Specifically, it pushes France, on four Gold medals -- a pretty lousy haul for them --, up to sixth place above Germany (10 Golds which is a cause for concern in Germany), Japan and Korea (both 8 Golds).

The table, then, doesn't lie, but it's not quite the whole truth either.

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