JOHNSON: Don’t judge United States medal count

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

With my time for watching Olympic competition being limited, I’ve been reduced to keeping with results and medal counts online. There has been a lot of criticism about the United States trailing China in total medals but once I took a closer look, I found the real story.

Through 11 days of events, China led the official IOC medal count over the U.S. 73-70 including a 34-30 advantage in gold.

However, in the South and most other places in the country we are concerned with “real” competition, not judged events.

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Football is decided by who can be the most physical and force the ball across the goal line. Basketball is a game of coordination and skill that requires one to out-maneuver the defense and create space to but the ball into the basket. Baseball, a more rhythmic game, requires athletes to make the most of an opportunity in a small window of time.

In the Olympics, some participants train for years to travel halfway across the world just to have a panel of judges give their opinion. It’s subjective.

Granted athletes in judged sports are just that, athletes. Their events, however, are not won or lost by their performance alone.

The United States basketball team pulled out a five-point victory over Lithuania in group play. That means the Americans did enough, on the floor, to score five more points that their opponent. If two gymnasts are nip-and-tuck, a group of judges make the call – give their opinion.

In a hotdog-eating contest, there is no question about the winner. Auto racing, same thing. Golf, tennis, water polo, even handball are sports decided by the quality of play of one team or individual in relation to another. Granted, most all sports have a regulatory body ¬– umpires or referees ¬– that monitor an event. But they very seldom determine the winner.

So let’s break this down and eliminated all the events involving judged results.

Through 11 days, the U.S. holds a 59-53 lead over China in total medal count and 26-24 in gold.

Now, don’t you feel better?

The United States is ahead 17-15 in silver and 16-14 in bronze.

The Americans win on the field. That’s what matters, not what’s on a scorecard.