22 August 2008

Olympian biases

Melvin pointed me to an interesting post by Angry African on the differences between the USA and the rest of the world. Angry African pointed out that in the USA Olympic medal table, the USA is Number 1 while China is Number 1 everywhere else.

Now with my interest in media bias, I had to go check this out. Sure enough, both CNN and NBC are showing the USA as leading the Olympics of 2008. BBC / Indian news channels show China leading. The difference is that CNN and NBC are counting the total number of medals as being important while BBC and everyone else is counting the total number of golds.

I did a little bit more research on this to see if it either of the networks had changed the way they did this from prior years... and there's no change. I know, I know, would have been much more interesting if either of the networks had changed their reporting from 2004 to boost their nation's standings.

(Data from CNN 08, BBC 08, CNN 04, BBC 04)

Personally, I like Melvin's way of calculating who the best is. He uses an algorithm that includes most improved, and the length of moustaches and various other secret criteria.


Angry African said...

I told the man that South Africa should be way higher up in his ranking system. We get extra points for having the lowest average number of legs per Olympian. Our Natalie Du Toit is the first amputee to compete in the Olympics "proper".

Good research by the way. I am not that good with facts. Always gets in the way of a good story! I am going to become a politician when I grow up. I am 40 now. ;)

lova said...


It's clearly ought to be about gold medal counts but you'd love the way tv media report the stuff here. For more funny arguments on this:
and here:
Madagascar clearly won the olympics because we sent 107 athletes although only 7 were qualified. Awesome ( good to see u writing again).

Melvin said...

Looking at just gold medals or just total medals doesn't make sense. If we give three points for gold, two for silver and one for bronze, China comes out on top, but just barely. China should be No. 1.

mosilager said...

AA - LoL yes the number of legs should definitely play a role. Got interested in the topic so decided to look up something. Usually the US media is very biased.

L - those were really good links. didn't know this topic was done to death in the blogosphere... but at least I have the photos to prove my case.

Melvin - That's a good point, would target individual and country brilliance as well. How about dividing those points by the number of competitors a country sends to the games to figure out who's on top?