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It's all in how you tally points

August 26, 2008

Re "Weighing Olympic gold," Opinion, Aug. 22

Awarding points for medal type is well and good, but why stop there:

* Number of team members in event: +1 per member

* Medal winner actually from the country he/she is competing for: +1

* Medal winner not living in the country he/she is competing for: -1

* Drug- or rule-disqualified medal winner: -2

* Age-disqualified medal winner: actual age minus minimum age (a negative score)

* Medals for events in the original Greek Olympics: +1

* Greeks winning medals: +1 (come on, they deserve extra credit)

* Medals for sports involving horses: -5 (let the horses hold their own Olympics)

Or maybe the whole idea of winner and loser countries doesn't really make sense to begin with, as individuals and teams compete, not countries.

Andy Safir

La Mesa

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Robert Hardaway proposes according points and arriving at a weighted score for the nations whose athletes compete in the Olympics. This seems like a reasonable approach, and one that I am familiar with. Many years ago when I competed in wrestling, team scores were decided using a similar system.

I'd recommend adding another factor into the calculations to determine "real" Olympic achievement -- a per capita weighting. China has more than four times the population of the United States but did not amass more than four times the points (according to Hardaway's scale.)

According to my calculations, based on Hardaway's scale and the medals won by the top 20 nations on the NBC Olympics website Aug. 22, tiny Jamaica, with a population of 2.8 million people, is the runaway winner, followed by New Zealand and Australia.

The United States and China, I'm afraid, finish 17th and 20th, respectively.

William McIntyre

Burbank

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