Rick Telander and Rick Morrissey share their thoughts

Exchange rate for Olympic medals

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LONDON -- I have a suggestion that I just know will be incredibly popular among people who compete in what I refer to as niche sports.

Not all Olympic medals are created equal. For example, winning a gold medal in men's soccer should be worth more than, say, a gold medal in the men's 50-kilometer walk. That's because billions of people around the world play soccer. Although it's true that billions of people walk, sometimes fast, in their daily lives, not many people are competitive race walkers. I'm guessing it's easier to get to the Olympics as a beach volleyball player than it is as a marathoner.

Thus, each medal should not be worth the same. The International Olympic Committee should decide the value of each medal in the medal standings based on participation in the sport worldwide. Values would change from Olympics to Olympics.

If you think I'm being an ignorant American, I'm willing to guess that basketball might not be as popular internationally as some other Olympic sports. Many people around the world might know who LeBron James is, but it doesn't necessarily mean basketball is more popular as a participation sport than swimming is.

What got me thinking about this was Great Britain's medal haul. The Brits are third in the gold medal count with 22 and tied with Russia for third overall with 48 medals. Nine of those medals came from track cycling - seven gold, one silver and one bronze. Because of the cost of the bicycles and the lack of velodromes around the world, track cycling is not among the most popular sports around the world.

Cost is also a huge issue with equestrian events, another sport in which the Brits have succeeded at these Olympics. Should Great Britain's gold medal in the team dressage count the same as Usain's gold medal in the 100-meter dash? No. The equestrian gold medal should be the size of a half-dollar.

I'm not trying to diminish the preparation and effort that go into competing in any of these sports. But if the pool of pole vaulters is significantly smaller than the pool of table tennis players around the world, shouldn't the table-tennis gold be worth more?

Only if you think table tennis is a sport.

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This page contains a single entry by Rick Morrissey published on August 8, 2012 2:17 PM.

Wenlock, the scary mascot was the previous entry in this blog.

Olympic progress comes at an expense is the next entry in this blog.

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