Archives for olympics



What Japan and Stanford University Have in Common

Yesterday I posted a quiz to blog readers asking what Stanford University and Japan have in common. Honestly, it was not that easy, but somehow it took Noto only eight minutes from the time I made the post to provide the correct answer: they garnered the same number of medals in the 2008 Olympics: 25. […] Read More »



The Price of Olympic Competition

There have been a lot of posts here about various wrinkles in Olympic competition: medal count, citizenship flexibility, outlying statistics, etc. Here’s perhaps the smallest wrinkle of all, but one that I found fascinating. It falls under the “citizenship flexibility” category and concerns one Olympic athlete’s name. We wrote in Freakonomics that the name a […] Read More »



Olympic Wrap-Up: Jamaica Wins; Aussies Are 5th; U.S. Ranks 33rd; China Is 47th

The Olympic Games are now over. All that remains is tallying up which are the greatest sporting nations on earth. Following the norm of emphasizing the gold medal tally over the total medal count, we can now declare Jamaica the winner; with 2.2 gold medals per million inhabitants, it bolts ahead of any other country. […] Read More »



Who’s the World’s Fastest Runner?

Justin Wolfers’s excellent post on Usain Bolt‘s extraordinary 200-meter race mentions in passing that “it is only a fairly recent phenomenon that the 200-meter typically yields a faster average speed than the 100-meter sprint.” We’re living in a topsy-turvy world where the world-record pace is faster on a longer distance than a shorter distance. When […] Read More »



Media Bias: Olympic Edition

If you go to espn.com to study the Olympic medal counts, you will find the United States sitting proudly at the top of the list. When I last checked, the U.S. had about 13 more medals than China. Russia, in third place, has barely more than half the medals we have. Great Britain is in […] Read More »



Usain Bolt: It’s Just Not Normal

Usain Bolt‘s wonderful run in the Olympic 200-meter sprint reminds us that the normal distribution — the familiar bell curve beloved by economists and statisticians — can be wildly inappropriate when analyzing extremely selected samples. This morning’s New York Times shows Usain Bolt’s new world record, relative to the 250 greatest 200-meter sprints ever. Not […] Read More »



Citizenship Flexibility at the Olympics Is a Good Thing

At a recent family sing-along in the upper peninsula of Michigan, we dusted off John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The lyrics made me think about the Olympics. Could we imagine the Olympics without national teams? Imagine a world where the best athletes are able to compete. This is definitely not the current Olympic system. The country quota […] Read More »



Teeny, Tiny Gymnasts

There has been endless speculation during the Beijing Olympics as to whether the Chinese gymnasts are old enough to compete under Olympic rules, which require participants to turn 16 in the year that they compete. Blog reader Chris Bourdon decided to stop talking about it and actually do some interesting data analysis. Here is the […] Read More »