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Olympic Medal Count Fallacy

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1 Olympic Medal Count Fallacy on Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:24 am

Not to take anything away from Phelps, whose mug is all over the sports pages this morning. He is a great swimmer. But the fact that he has garnered 19 medals so far is an artifact of the number of swimming events in the Olympic games.

Take cycling.

We could have cycling events of 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, 20,000m, 50,000m and 100,000m. For both men and women. Each for track bike singlespeeds, multigear road bikes, and offroad for mountain bikes. We could have most of those distances in relays and team events too. We could have a hundred Olympic medals up for grabs in cycling alone. Which might mean that in a single Olympics, a cyclist could garner a dozen medals!

Ditto racewalking. Instead of two events, racewalking could feature a dozen or more for men and for women.

That is sort of what has been done with swimming. That is why it is possible to win so many medals in swimming.

But what the Olympic Committee has done is to cut out cycling events, not to inflate them.

The whole Olympic show is just that -- a show. A show composed of events selected to ensure plenty of medals in sports the Comittee thinks will please the crowds.

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