Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Flag on Top of the Scoreboard

Way back in the early 1960s, there were two track meets between national teams of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. These were very big deals in both countries. The one held in the U.S. drew a crowd of almost 100,000. You couldn't get that at a track meet today giving out free beer.

The weird thing was, each country won each of the two meets. They had separate and most unequal scoring systems, allowing both teams to win the same competition.

The U.S. men's team was stronger than their Russkie rivals, but the proletarian heroines of the people were WAY better than the U.S. women. So the U.S. separated the two scores. That way, our men "won" and, really, what else did early '60s America care about. Our women got shellacked, but losing to women wasn't considered actual losing.

The Soviets combined the scores of the men and women. That way, they won. Lucky for the red, white, and blue we were so chauvinistically retrograde. Can you imagine if a U.S. team made up of men and women tried separating the scores today, no matter how hated our rival? We'd never hear the end of it. Oprah would defect.

But of course, this is the progressive 21st century, and a sleazy stunt like that would never go over today. We are a grown-up nation, and can take our wins and losses in sports as they come. Sure. Just don't look at an Olympic scoreboard.

EVERY U.S. media outlet, without exception, runs an Olympic medals scoreboard that show the U.S. narrowly in front of China. China is kicking our ass in the number of gold medals won, that is, actual victories, but our guys and gals have more place and show finishes, which for the purposes of the medal count, are said to be just as good as finishing first.

Uh, no. Winning is why they keep score and use stopwatches. By any objective measure, China leads the national rankings in the 2008 Games. Big country. Home field advantage. No surprise.

But it's one hell of a note when the state-controlled media of a ruthless dictatorship gives you a more honest count than the alleged free press of an alleged free country.


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