I think the idea of counting medals, regardless of how such a count is “normalized” (see below), is ridiculous. Do we really still live in a world where nationalism matters and forms the entire basis for a 2/4 year sporting ritual?

But, given that I seem to be in the minority of people that think that winning medals for “Team USA” is absurdly silly and anachronistically (and dangerously) nationalistic, and given that it is somewhat interesting to think about how to normalize the medal count, what do you think is the best way to normalize the medal count? By GDP? Population?

Let’s hear your ideas for what the right formula is to determine what nation is “best” at sports*. Note that I do not think either GDP or population are very good denominators. And hint: I actually don’t think dividing medals by any number (normalizing) is the right thing to do if you want to decide who or what country is “best”; I think there is a different, better way to figure this out.

-JD Cross

* Note that for this exercise let’s ignore the ridiculousness of what sports are allowed to award what medals. For example: it is completely nonsensical that swimmers are awarded a medal for every swim event when juxtaposed with track events and team sports. And note that this note is itself a sort of hint at what I believe is the correct way to “normalize” the medal count.


Better the pride that resides
In a citizen of the world
Than the pride that divides
When a colorful rag is unfurled

-Neil Peart from “Territories” by Rush