I don’t know about you, but when I hear “total medal counts” for the Sochi Olympic Games, I always wonder, “sure, but why count all three medal levels as equal?”
That is, surely gold is worth more than silver which is worth more than bronze. Shouldn’t there be some weighting scheme to factor in those rankings? Granted, any such scheme is arbitrary–and maybe, if we’re taking the high road, as we always should, outside the spirit of the games.
Still, what happens to the rankings if you use the simplest of weighting schemes, 3 for gold, 2 for silver, 1 for bronze?
SOCHI MEDAL COUNT, 2/21, UNWEIGHTED AND WEIGHTED TOTALS
Source: As of 11am today.
Just grabbing a sample of medal-board leaders, in fact, the rankings change quite a bit when you apply these weights. Canada, in third place re totals, jumps to first and the US fall from first to third.
Go ahead and try this at home–perhaps you have your own weighting ideas. I’ve thought about other factors if one wanted to dive more deeply into this, like considering population size (should be positively correlated with success just based on naïve skill distributions; if your top 1% of speed skaters includes 500 people versus 5 people, you should win more, all else equal), per-capita income, climate (I don’t blame the Zimbabwe skier who come in 61st).
But–putting aside the important caveat about violating the spirit of the games–at least we’d want to think about weighting medals when we tote them up.