Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Olympic nonsense

So I'm flipping through news stations last night and come across Bill O'Reilly jabbering about the USA's gold medal count. "The US is leading the medal count, and I think I know why" he begins (I'm quoting from memory, so apologies in advance).

Wow, I wonder what blazing insight BOR has on the Olympics. Short answer: we have freedom rather than socialism. To be fair: he has to make his case in 45 seconds, of course he is going to steal some bases. On the other hand: WTF.

He uses as an example the fact that Australia has won more medals than Canada despite having 10 million fewer citizens. It makes some sense to note population and to choose as examples countries with somewhat similar cultural backgrounds. But the idea that Australia is a free-wheeling capitalist country while Canada is socialist is absurd. Both countries are ranked as free by the Heritage foundation, both have a great deal of socialistic tendencies from the point of view of an American, and Australia actually scores worse than Canada in terms of the fiscal burden of government on its citizenry.

How about this for an alternate explanation: Australia is a warm country where people can pursue summer season sports year round. Canada is a colder country with a short summer. Canadians are encouraged by circumstances to focus on winter sports. In fact, a look at the 2002 winter Olympic results show that Norway and Canada both finished in the top 5 in the medal count. But maybe BOR has an explanation for why socialistic countries succeed in the cold, harsh, bitter world of winter sports.

Not everything is about politics. I'll give you the last word...


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