Globe public editor: How should countries be ranked in the Olympics?

By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

A reader asked this week why The Globe and Mail doesn’t use the official Olympic method of ranking countries when presenting medal counts.

By Sylvia Stead, public editor of The Globe and Mail

A reader asked this week why The Globe and Mail doesn’t use the official Olympic method of ranking countries when presenting medal counts.

The Globe’s ranking is based on the total number of medals. In the case of a tie, the nod goes to whichever country has more gold, then silver, then bronze.

The Olympics ranking is based on the most gold medals won. In the case of a tie, more silver medals takes the next ranking.

Last Thursday morning, in the official Sochi medal count, Canada stood in seventh place. After the women’s curling team won gold, we moved into fifth and stayed there after the women’s hockey team won gold. Note that on the official tally Germany was third with eight gold, although it had fewer medals in total than Canada.

In The Globe’s method of counting, Canada was also fifth.

Neither method is perfect.

But the reader said, in an extreme example: “Under The Globe’s system, the country with 1 gold and 99 bronze medals is ranked higher (100 total medals) than the country with 1 gold and 1 silver (2 medals).”

I agree that is an extreme example, but in this case I would agree that 100 medals is more impressive than two, whatever the colour.

To continue reading this column, please visit theglobeandmail.com, where it was originally published.


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