August 2, 2012

Olympic medal predictions

Economist Tyler Cowen has an article in Grantland predicting long-run trends in Summer Olympic medals totals based on population growth rates, age, and income. Cowen explains:
Economists have taken time out of their busy schedules of destroying the world to provide insights into which factors help make countries successful in their bids for Olympic glory. 
The first factor is population. If athletic ability is roughly equally distributed around the globe, the more citizens you have, the more great athletes you are likely to have.

"If athletic ability is roughly equally distributed around the globe" then Tyler must be watching different Olympics than I have been watching since the 1960s. (Here's my summary of the impact of human biodiversity on the 2008 Olympics.) There's a less derisible way to phrase the notion that Tyler wants to make: "The more citizens you have, all else being equal, the more great athletes you are likely to have." No need to assert a hypothesis that's obviously sizably untrue, just trot out ceteris paribus, front and center.
It stands to reason, for example, that Australia will likely win more medals than New Zealand, simply because it has five times the population.

And that's why India wins 50 times as many medals as Australia. And then, as jody reminds us, there's always Bangladesh, population 150,000,000. From Wikipedia's striking article "Bangladesh at the Olympics:"
Bangladesh has competed in seven Summer Olympic Games. They have never competed in the Winter Games. 
No Bangladeshi competitor has ever qualified for the Olympics; the country sends representatives to the Games thanks to the wildcard process.[1] Bangladesh is the most populous country in the world never to have won an Olympic medal. 

Not only no medals, but "No Bangladeshi competitor has ever qualified for the Olympics ..."

It looks to me more like the countries that win a lot of medals are the countries that A) want to win a lot of medals and B) are pretty competent at what they do. The East Germans used to win a lot of medals, for example, but then, they'd almost conquered the world. Compared to invading Poland, systematically doping their women swimmers was child's play. 

Moreover, it helps to have a lot of power and tradition to get your favorite sports treated well by the Olympics. You'll notice, for instance, that the Olympics hand out a ton of swimming medals, which benefit the U.S. and Australia in the medal counts. In track, there are medals for running and a couple for walking, but in swimming there are medals for four separate strokes, even though one, the butterfly is obviously inferior to the crawl (freestyle) on all dimensions. It's like if they gave out gold medals in track for a couple of silly walks choreographed by John Cleese.

From Cowen's summary on his blog:
1. Medal totals will become more diversified over time. The market share of the “top 10″ countries will continue to fall (it was 81 percent in 1988) as economic and population growth slows in the rich world. The developing world has greater room for rapid economic growth, and most parts of the developing world also have higher population growth. The Olympic playing field will get more and more level. 

That's an easy prediction to make. My guess is that it will be less true than Cowen thinks. My prediction is that there will be a countervailing trend. In some ways, the Summer Olympics will become even more like the Winter Olympics: a refuge for the global upper middle class, who have the resources to pick obscure sports for their scions and then pay for intensive tutoring as a path to get them into American colleges.

In contrast, the burgeoning ranks of the global poor, will obsess over a handful of big money sports, especially soccer in Africa, but also cricket in South Asia, neither one of which is a good way to pile up a lot of Olympic medals. The word "diversity" tends to freeze the brains of people these days, but an obvious global cultural trend is away from diversity in sports toward soccer uber alles.

Most of the major sports in the world today were institutionalized by English-speakers. The Victorian Anglosphere had the right combination of eccentricity, cooperativeness, fair-play, and cultural prestige to impose their favorite games upon the world. There was a second efflorescence centered in post-War California that's now institutionalized in the X Games. Today's global poor are unlikely to have a similar creative impact. They are more likely to be followers rather than innovators in sport.

Many of today's Olympic sports will increasingly become museum pieces that will remain alive because wealthy people like the idea of their kind of people having an opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal.
2. Japan will continue to fade, mostly because of aging and population shrinkage. 

Actually, rather than continuing to fade like it did in 1988 through 2000, Japan made a big comeback in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. After finishing no higher than 14th in total medals from 1988 through 2000, Japan finished 5th and 8th in the last two Olympics.  This is continuing today, with Japan having 24 medals already in 2012.

The Japanese will always have the problem that they are rather small in stature, but I have this vague hunch that the particular Japanese problems in the late 20th Century were twofold: the rise of China brought them added competition in events friendly to their racial physiology; second, they once seemed to have a lot psychological with choking, perhaps caused by the growth of suffocating media pressure in Japan. An American friend who has taught college in Japan for decades wrote me in 2000:

When Japanese athletes compete in the Olympics they feel they are representing, not only their country, but also their race and all its members. When a Japanese is leading in a race the announcer's voice becomes flushed with emotion. When interviewed after competition, swimmers and judo-ists say they can't remember what happened, so great was their emotion. In fact in the moments leading up to a competition, Japanese seem almost paralyzed by nervousness. They are not competing for themselves, but for their coach, their team, their family, and everyone. If they win, it was not because of their own effort, but because of everyone's support. Their greatest emotion then is relief from the relentless pressure. If they lose, they have let everyone down. They cannot be good sportsmen and congratulate their opponents with a smile because their minds are elsewhere thinking about how they will apologize to their supporters.

Perhaps the Japanese are learning to deal with this kind of pressure better.
3. Italy will follow Japan for similar demographic reasons, as well as because the Eurozone crisis will continue to cut into budgets, training and otherwise.

Perhaps, but Italy has had low birth rates for awhile, and yet their Olympic medal performance has been better in the last four Summer Olympics than in 1988-1992. I'm not saying that the general mechanism Cowen identifies isn't a factor, just that if you are going to cite two examples -- Japan and Italy -- you ought to bother to go to Wikipedia and find examples that have actually been in decline already. It makes your argument sound more plausible.
4. Since Rio is host to the next Olympics, Brazil should do better than expected due to the “pre-host” bump.

Maybe, but Brazil is close to the ultimate in soccer obsession. We'll see. The home country bump mostly has to do with host countries investing in boring minor sports to pick up easy medals (especially doubly easy women's medals). We'll see if the Brazilians care enough to bother.
5. Many African nations will rise. Currently about half of the approximately 1 billion people in Africa have a cell phone, and the middle class is growing. The chance that an African star will be spotted and trained at the appropriate age is much higher than before. Africa also continues to grow in population, and that means lots of young people. Most of us still think of African nations as very poor, but infant mortality has been falling and per-capita income rising across Africa for the better part of a decade now.

Is there much evidence that African countries are getting better at winning men’s Olympic medals? Sure, it sounds plausible in theory, but where’s the evidence? Ethiopia has been winning distance running medals since 1960 and Kenya since 1964, so this isn’t exactly a hot, late-breaking trend. In the sprints, the African Diaspora continues to do better than African themselves.

Nigeria, for example, started getting better at wining Olympic medals in 1992, but it still only averages three medals per Summer Olympics in this century, which isn't much for a country with 162 million West Africans. In contrast, Cuba has averaged 27 medals per Olympics in this century. Cuba wins a lot of medals because it's a totalitarian state with a sports-crazed dictator who is still waging the Cold War. Plus, it's a country with a lot of West African-descended athletes but the system is mostly run by white people, kind of like the SEC in college football.

My guess is that as more Africans get television in their homes, they’ll become even more obsessed with soccer and the World Cup rather than with the Olympics. Soccer experts have been predicting a major African breakthrough in the World Cup for a long time now, but it hasn’t happened yet.
6. China will level off and then decline as a medal powerhouse. In less than 15 years, the typical person living in China is likely to be older on average than the typical person living in the United States, in part due to the country’s one-child policy.

I think it will depend upon whether the Chinese state keeps pushing Olympic medals for nationalistic reasons. Even if they don't, the Chinese upper middle class might intelligently exploit obscure Olympic events as a way into American colleges. A big question is whether the Chinese will continue to get taller, making them more competitive in tall person's sports like swimming.

I'll make a lame prediction: the easy way to win medals is in women's events. Various countries and cultures will exploit this, although in an unpredictable fashion. In general, rich countries have pushed hard for adding more medals for women to pad their own totals. If the Olympics still had the same distribution of events as in, say, 1952, poor countries would win a larger percentage of medals. Training women for some obscure macho sport is a luxury that only rich countries and dictatorships can do.

One interesting question is what impact demographic trends will have on the U.S. Down through history, U.S. medal totals have been heavily carried by Californians, either natives or students / alumni of UCLA, USC, Stanford, etc. In 2008, Sports Illustrated counted 175 Californians on the U.S. Olympic team, versus 176 from the next seven states combined.

There are lots of reasons for this: California and Australia are similarly outdoorsy. California's culture has always been open to eccentric sports. California was a center of innovation in performance enhancing drugs going back to the 1950s. L.A. hosted summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984.

The new populations in California, however, aren't terribly athletic, however. There are 50,000,000 Latinos in the U.S. but they comprise only a small % of the U.S. Olympic team. Similarly, Mexico is a long term underachiever both in the Olympics and the World Cup, relative to its large population (113,000,000 within the borders of Mexico alone) and moderate income. And this is despite hosting both the 1968 Olympics and the 1986 World Cup.

135 comments:

Madeleine Albright said...

Mr. Tyler Cowen,

What's the point of having this superb brain that you're always talking about if you can't use it?

Anonymous said...

The top medal winning countries seem to be the G8 plus China, and a few other wealthy countries like Australia, South Korea, etc.

This doesn't appear likely to change.

Anonymous said...

It stands to reason, for example, that Australia will likely win more medals than New Zealand, simply because it has five times the population.

That's only because they're similar in almost every other way - genetically, culturally, economically, politically, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the Japanese are learning to deal with this kind of pressure better."

That low fertility rate has to involve pathological narcissism.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

When one starts by assuming something that is not true - that athletic ability is evenly distributed - and compounds it by assuming that average age of a population is a net negative for its athletic success, one gets conclusions like Cowan's, which sound plausible to people who haven;t looked at the data nor thought much about the subject.

The USSR had specialist nations in various sports, knowing that they could not all afford all sports. Bulgarian weightlifters, Romanian gymnasts, Hungarian fencers.

Anonymous said...

if you refer to freestyle as "the crawl" you are a fucking moron and dont know anything about swimming. You try swimming the 200 fly, asshole.

Anonymous said...

"They are not competing for themselves, but for their coach, their team, their family, and everyone. If they win, it was not because of their own effort, but because of everyone's support."

You didn't win that.

soren said...

"if you refer to freestyle as "the crawl" you are a fucking moron and dont know anything about swimming. You try swimming the 200 fly, asshole."

Please go correct wikipedia.

"As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence freestyle is used metonymically for the front crawl."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Front_crawl

Nairun said...

"
It looks to me more like the countries that win a lot of medals are the countries that A) want to win a lot of medals and B) are pretty competent at what they do. The East Germans used to win a lot of medals, for example, but then, they'd almost conquered the world.

- If we're discussing East German wins, better include the horse pills :P




I'll make a lame prediction: the easy way to win medals is in women's events. Various countries and cultures will exploit this, although in an unpredictable fashion.

- They already are. China is disportionately winning in women's medals, and this was the case in '08 as well.

Anonymous said...

The one I don't get is Belgium. For a rich and small-but-not-tiny country, they sure don't win many medals. Their total medal counts in the last three summer games were 5,3, and 2. And in the winter games, it is even grimmer, with only a single solitary medal since 1948 (and it was a bronze)!

By contrast the slightly larger Netherlands has won 89 medals in the last three sets of games (63 summer, 26 winter).

Belgians aren't good at soccer either. I guess they mostly care about cycling (Eddie Merckx was Belgian).

slumber_j said...

Yeah, I'll second soren's point. I'll additionally point out that when I was learning to swim, the stroke was known among my grandparents (all four of them, only one of whom was actually Australian) as the Australian crawl.

I'll also quote the original ignoramus:

"if you refer to freestyle as "the crawl" you are a fucking moron and dont know anything about swimming. You try swimming the 200 fly, asshole."

You kiss your mother with that mouth? You *eat* with that mouth?! Garbage mouth!!

If you're planning on not knowing what you're talking about to that degree, why not at least try toning down the rhetoric? In the future, I mean.

Anonymous said...

China is winning in women's sports because PEDS, doping, and steroids confer a greater advantage in women's sports.

Truth said...

I TOLD YOU!!!!!

IT WAS NOTHING MORE THAN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION THAT GOT GABBY DOUGLAS ON THE TEAM!!!!

AllanF said...

Most of us still think of African nations as very poor, but infant mortality has been falling and per-capita income rising across Africa for the better part of a decade now.

Um, wasn't I reading about an Ebola outbreak in some capital city going on right now?

Anonymous said...

22pp22 said:

Anonymous said...
if you refer to freestyle as "the crawl" you are a fucking moron and dont know anything about swimming. You try swimming the 200 fly, asshole.

Is that kind of language really necessary?

Anonymous said...

The Chinese are really shameless cheaters who whine about being discriminated against.
Pump India up with some PEDs and maybe they'll pick up the pace. Or maybe the Indians just need to eat some beef.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say slumber_j's comment was great. Nice to see a good smackdown of the anonymous ignoramus. Made my day and gave me a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese system is pretty Olympic crazy and lots of people have huge incentives to produce gold medal winners. There's a Chinese alcohol company that gives about 1.5 million to the weight lifting winners and each of them almost automatically gets a house when they get home (this is advertising for the developers as in 'gold medal winner X lives here'). That was all from a local TV report on the winners.

They also still go out and find 5 year olds who look like they're going to be tall and put them in full time volleyball schools and so on. That's the biggest advantage you can possibly have, especially in the sports where the skills are pretty obvious and overall interest is low. If you systematically find the 200 strongest 7 year olds and then have them focus on weightlifting for the next 10 years, you're going to be left with the strongest people in the world, especially on the womens' side.

The system doesn't work nearly as well at 'creative' type sports- which 12 year old will be a world class point guard or midfielder in soccer? But you can see the power of it in sport where China dominates. There was just an article talking about how China has 3 women who would easily win gold at the Olympics, but could only send one.

Anonymous said...

re: belgium

belgium is to cycling as brazil is to soccer.

Not only do they make exceptional "Big Tour" racers, they have a sub-strata of one day riders (liege-bastogne-liege, paris roubaix etc). The next level down from that is a fairly obscure cycling type called cyclocross.
In all of the above, belgium punches WAY above it's weight class.
Belgium basically does nothing but cycle, but they cycle VERY well
merckx
boonen
phillipe gilbert
etc

Brent Lane said...

If you consider the Wiki entry for Bangladesh at the Olympics "striking", Steve, you'll find Bangladesh at the Paralympics even moreso.

Let's have a round of polite applause for Wali Ullah, who has probably the most unappreciated and least coveted job in the athletics profession: head of the Bangladesh Olympics Association.

Anonymous said...

as for africans in the Olympics, there is an EXCEPTIONAL South African swimmer, Le clos, and a decent Kenyan journeyman Dunford. On the women's side, there is an exceptional Zimbabwean swimmer, Coventry.
Both Le Clos and Coventry are truly "top of the game" swimmers.
I know the steve-o-sphere assumes "african" means black, but let's not forget White Colonial Africa is, per capita, some of the most athletic people on earth. I agree w/ Cowen, expect Le Clos and many more like him down the road to do well.

Anonymous said...

While anonymous was being a complete jerk in his language, his point is correct. I have been in the competitive swimming world for about twenty-five years (two guys I swam with are in this Games alone) and no one calls freestyle front crawl--even if wikipedia's reference to metonymy is technically correct. It is similar to how on broadcast TV they call the relays, for example, the 4 x 100 freestyle relay (in analogy to track perhaps?) even though no swimmer ever would (instead they would refer to this event as the 400 freestyle relay). Otherwise, interesting article as always, Steve! Thanks and sorry you have to put up with a-holes.

Anonymous said...

Also, the UK "takes" colonial africa's medal count. Chris Froome is by any normal standard a South African. Unlike other sham-athletes who at least bother to move into the "new" country a few months before the olympics, Froome is a current resident of ZA who competes "under his grandfather's birthplace". Not even his own dad. There hasn't been a british froom in decades, but his medal goes to UK not ZA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you refer to freestyle as "the crawl" you are a fucking moron and dont know anything about swimming. You try swimming the 200 fly, asshole.


Nice to have my impression of the swim team types being a bunch of pricks confirmed. It bothers me that Steve seems like such a nice guy despite being an avid golfer.

kudzu bob said...

The new populations in California, however, aren't terribly athletic.

So let's make firing guns into air at parties and driving a pickup truck on the wrong side of the road while blind-drunk into Olympic events. Problem solved!

Cecil Roads said...

I know the steve-o-sphere assumes "african" means black

Maybe so, but that's irrelevant. Cowen was obviously taking about black Africa in the article.

stari_momak said...

1) This whole deal of economists colonizing other disciplines, just because they can do a bit of regression analysis (though not here!) has got to stop. Maybe if they got back to the core questions and concepts (e.g. what makes people well off, opportunity costs, respectively) of their field, they'd be doing better at their actual jobs. Leave the sociology of sport to the sociologists.

2) Okay, I'm sick of non-swimmers dissing butterfly. Some black sports columnist pulled this crap last olympics while trying to diminish Phelps achievement -- calling it analogous to 'bunny hopping' down the track in sprinting.

Yes, butterfly is a quirk of history, it developed as an attempt at a faster breastroke, within the rules of that stroke. However, swimming it is an entirely different experience. And, as wiki says, it is the most technically demanding of strokes. And while the winner of the 100 freestyle often wins the 100 butterfly, that isn't always the case. It wasn't in 84 (Gaines, Gross), it wasn't in 2000 (van den Hoogenband, Frölander), and many other Olympics. As for 'inferior' on all dimensions, well, chucking a spear at someone is probably always and everywhere more effective than a round ball of iron, but we still have the shot put. And you may have noticed that lifeguards often take a few butterfly strokes when entering the water, it is quick and helps them clear waves. Likewise a few dolphin kicks underwater when surface diving are much more effective than either a flutter kick or a breastroke kick.

Finally, I personally think butterfly is also the most aesthetically pleasing of the strokes.

Anonymous said...

"The new populations in California, however, aren't terribly athletic."

But Mexicans are good at fence jumping.

Anonymous said...

I'm just watching the women's all-around gymnastics now (thanks, NBC), even though I already know the medalists. Two things spring to mind:

1)These are mostly little kids.

2) Holy crap! I didn't know it was physically possible to do that!

Anonymous said...

"The new populations in California, however, aren't terribly athletic."

What do you based this on? My purely anecdotal observation, based on being a baseball fan, is that Mestizos are pretty athletic.

Anonymous said...

Well about 75 percent of those Ca people in the olympics are from College programs and like Rebecca Soni come from other places. Ca is suffering from the youth being hispanic and the average Ca kid is about 2 inches shorter than most places because 50 percent of kids under 20 eyars old are hispanic. Even with a large population the white population is smaller than 20 years ago for 25 years and younger. 1972 mark Spitz from California and 2012 Michael Phelps for Maryland.

Mitch said...

I live in a very Asian section of California, and teach first generation American kids enrichment classes. My current class of 20 has 9 Indian, 2 half Korean/white, 8 Chinese, 1 Vietnamese kids. I have four basketball players. all starters in "diverse" (as opposed to Asian) school, one power hitter ball player, and a state champion and Far Westerns volleyball player (she's 5'11, and thinking of taking up basketball). One of the basketball players is going out for baseball as well this year. He goes to Saint Francis, the athletic Catholic school in the area (as opposed to the academic ones), which has been a major sports powerhouse in most sports, and this kid chose to go to SF because of the sports.Then I've got one swimmer, one archery nut, and a field hockey player. This is a noticeable change, by the way, from just five years ago. THe population is in constant transition.

So I'm not sure you'll be able to go by the old patterns in the future.

By the way, Nathan Adrian is half Chinese. (I think we're still a long way away from Indian swimmers, though.)

Steve Sailer said...

My impression is that the swimmers who dominate the butterfly are typically the best all-around.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Bangladesh isn't a big swimming nation, since it's almost submerged in bath-warm water and hundreds of Bangladeshis drown each year in floods etc.
In England, for example, outdoor water is so perishingly cold that any seroius swimmer must use a public pool, which are few and far between and grossly overcrowded.
As for Tyler Cowen's long term prediction's, I'm sceptical. I'm pretty sure China and the USA will dominate far into the forseeable future - mainly because of reasons of organisation, national pride and hard edged obsessive mental and physical toughness.
A harsh point to make but I doubt that many of the mass third world nations will ever mount to much due to the poor physiques of the populations which is mostly down to HBD - a point Tyler Cowen ignores.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that the swimmers who dominate the butterfly are typically the best all-around.

Yeah this is true. It's because the butterfly takes a lot of strength and power to swim well. It's the hardest stroke and the last one that's taught. Takes a lot of upper body and core strength to swim it properly and efficiently.

eah said...

I predict that Cowen will waste his time coming up with more balderdash in the future. I'm less certain whether Mr Sailer will spend more of his time critiquing it.

My impression is that the swimmers who dominate the butterfly are typically the best all-around.

Spitz and Phelps are anecdotal examples that come quickly to mind.

Anonymous said...

Another point about swimming in Bangladesh is that in the literature there appears to be very little record of shark attacks off the Bangladesh coast, yet a cursory knowledge of geography will tell you that the Bay of Bengal must be shark infested.
Authors of shark attack files surmise that a huge number of fatal attacks in the third world are never even officially recorded, due to lax or non existent record keeping.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the sports are leisure activities - archery, canoe/kayak, equestrian, sailing, judo, taekwondo, etc. and can only really be done by countries where a lot of the population can afford leisure.

Anonymous said...

It's expensive to fund athletes for the Olympics.

A New Zealand taekwondo-er started a brothel to fund himself for the Olympics:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--new-zealander-used-brothel-to-fund-olympic-taekwondo-training.html

"The path to the Olympics is not cheap, something a New Zealander named Logan Campbell discovered upon returning home from his taekwondo loss four years ago in Beijing. He faced a mountain of bills from travel, equipment, and training, almost $120,000 worth in American currency, and he couldn't keep asking his parents to pay it.

London was going to cost him another $200,000. He needed money. He needed it fast.

So he opened a brothel."

Steve Johnson said...

Anonymous said...

"I'm surprised that Bangladesh isn't a big swimming nation, since it's almost submerged in bath-warm water and hundreds of Bangladeshis drown each year in floods etc."

I don't know - if I were looking for countries that would have plenty of swimming medals I'd look at countries where there's lots of water but people DON'T DROWN ALL THE TIME.

Just a hunch.

dearieme said...

"Belgians aren't good at soccer either. I guess they mostly care about cycling (Eddie Merckx was Belgian)."

Have you been to Belgium? Have you seen the amount of butter and cream they eat?

If you grew up where the food and beer were so excellent, would you bother with bloody volleyball?

Anonymous said...

New Zealand is a very boring country and there is nothing else to do but play sport..

Simon in London said...

Cowen's insights seem remarkably weak, for the reasons you give.

The main factors in Olympic wins seem to be
(1) competent population (West African sprinters, North European kayakers et al) +
(2) State support.
Size of population, fertility rate, or age of population seem much less important.

Britain did badly for decades due to a lack of (2). The totalitarian New Labour regime greatly increased (2) while also greatly increasing Diversity, so it looks like Diversity per se does not prevent success, though it does not lead to success unless it increases you competent population - see (1).

China will continue to do well as long as they continue to have (2). Nigeria have (1) for eg sprinting, and I think have some prospect for more (2), which could give them more medals.
Bangladesh, like many nations, does not have (1) or (2).

Londoner said...

Belgium has had some good football teams, particularly in the 1980s, but yes, it probably punches below its weight. Being a phoney country with a near 50/50 ethnic split between groups that don't like or understand each other mustn't help.

The Olympics has always been essentially upper middle class - hence its 'amateur' (translation: tailored for rich gentlemen with leisure time) ethos. This milieu will never appeal to or hold the interest of the third world's teeming masses. The one factor that might drag up some countries is the national prestige that Olympic success confers. This will motivate governments of up-and coming but unathletic states to follow the Chinese model.

Cowen's analysis is that of a child - it boils down to nothing more than population size. My confident prediction: tiny Australia and fading Japan will outperform massive India, Bangladesh and sub-Saharan Africa for ever.

Anonymous said...

Yeah this is true. It's because the butterfly takes a lot of strength and power to swim well. It's the hardest stroke and the last one that's taught. Takes a lot of upper body and core strength to swim it properly and efficiently.

Also, it takes a fairly good sense of rhythm [paired with the aforementioned "core strength"] in order to get the "double kick" to work correctly.


***************
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It's expensive to fund athletes for the Olympics.

Yeah, I think that's one reason why they don't have much in the way of basketball in sub-Saharan Africa: A building large enough to enclose a regulation basketball court [where the roof is a good 25 to 30 feet above the ground] must cost the better part of a million dollars.

And then there's just the floor of the court itself - laying all that oak floorboard, and sanding it smooth, and covering it with an industrial strength polyurethane - that's a huge undertaking, which could take weeks to finish [no pun intended].

Then you gotta lift those massive glass backboards into the air, and bolt some rims to them, and find some nets to hang from the rim...

Anonymous said...

Anon - "They (China) also still go out and find 5 year olds who look like they're going to be tall and put them in full time volleyball schools and so on."


http://ukcommentators.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/chinese-eugenics.html


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/03/china.olympicgames2008


"In other sports, size is more important - and the government appears to be discreetly trying to influence this too. Top basketball coach Wang Libin says the government encouraged the exceptionally tall mother and father of Yao Ming, the 7ft 6in superstar of the American basketball league, to marry. They did the same for his own parents, and for him and his wife - both basketball players. Their daughter is only 15, but she is 6ft 4in tall and dreams of playing in the 2012 London Olympics. Now, he says, tall people are exempted from the one-child policy so that they can breed more tall offspring."

Anonymous said...

Most of us still think of African nations as very poor, but infant mortality has been falling and per-capita income rising across Africa for the better part of a decade now.


Yeah? Infant mortality has been falling and per-capita income rising across Africa for the better part of a decade now, and infant mortality is still very high and per-capita income is still shockingly low. And African nations are still very poor.

CLoe said...

"Truth said...
I TOLD YOU!!!!!

IT WAS NOTHING MORE THAN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION THAT GOT GABBY DOUGLAS ON THE TEAM!!!!"


- Sure, Ruth, like no blacks have ever gotten an award for an athletic event. And that is kind of the point, actually- why is it that we feel the need to have affirmative action for blacks in schools, but not for white basketball players, and Asian football players?

Then again, in Gabby's case, did you hear the interview afterwards? Never heard a black girl sound more white in my life. Apparently that good white neighborhood rubbed off in a positive way instead of getting pregnant at 14, going to prison at 17, etc.

Anonymous said...

Steve -

Something weird is afoot with that Gabby Douglas gold medal in the all-around last night.

A black girl, who's the daughter of a single black mother [Nadean Hawkins], who was taken in by a white family [the Partons], so that she could train with immigrant Chinese coaches [Liang Chow and his wife, Li Zhuang], all overseen by Romanian immigrant supervisors [Marta Karolyi and her husband, Bela]?!?

Doesn't this story sound just like the Obamas and the Dunhams and the Soetoros and the Geithners?

Obama <-> Douglas/Hawkins
Dunham <-> Parton
Soetoro <-> Chow
Geithner <-> Karolyi

And yet, this morning, when I go to all the major sports websites, I am served up, as the lead story, the duel between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 IM.

This is really, really weird - I can't figure it out.

Some possibilities:


1) Nadean Hawkins is very religious, and is known to be pro-life?

2) The Partons are a bunch of gun-toting, bible-thumping, mouth-breathing Tea Baggers?

3) The "cookie" information-gathering is getting so sophisticated that these websites already know that I am a white male interested in swimming stories?

4) There is an emerging "Whitopia" associated with the Olympics, and it is well known that only "white" sports coverage results in advertising hits?

5) The Obamas are simply jealous of Gabby Douglas, and have ordered the media to downplay any coverage of her?

6) For some other reason, Axelrod thinks that Gabby Douglas makes the Obamas look bad?


Help me out here - I am really befuddled.

Anonymous said...

Troofie, Gabby is definitely a an honorary white girl; she has an intact family unit...

Dahinda said...

My brother was an embassy guard in Bangladesh. The way he described the people and the country it is surprising that they can muster any athletes at all!

Anonymous said...

"The developing world has greater room for rapid economic growth"

Their rapid economic growth was based on the transfer of western capital. That capital once transferred from the west can't be used to create more transfer capital from the west. So...for them to maintain the same level of growth they need to be able to generate the same amount of new capital from the transferred capital than the west could have created with the same capital and then transferred.

.
"Japan will continue to fade, mostly because of aging and population shrinkage."

I am convinced the Japanese - if they don't surrender to the immigration death cult - will eventually genetically trasform themselves into seven foot, pink-haired anime cyborgs and win every medal.


.
"the African Diaspora continues to do better than African themselves."

I wonder if that's true of the South Asian diaspora too despite the focus on cricket?

rec1man said...

India wins second medal in shooting - Vijay kumar

In Badminton, Indian Sania Nehwl in bronze playoff

DaveinHackensack said...

"A harsh point to make but I doubt that many of the mass third world nations will ever mount to much due to the poor physiques of the populations"

Several years ago, my sister went to India on vacation and brought me back some sort of traditional Indian shirt. I wear an XL here, and this shirt was similar to an XL in length, length of sleeves, and waist, but it was so tight in the shoulders I could barely wear it.

rob said...

"I'm surprised that Bangladesh isn't a big swimming nation, since it's almost submerged in bath-warm water and hundreds of Bangladeshis drown each year in floods etc."

I don't know - if I were looking for countries that would have plenty of swimming medals I'd look at countries where there's lots of water but people DON'T DROWN ALL THE TIME.


Prolly what happened was that the British colonialists strip-mined Bangla Desh of swimming ability.

Dudes point was that Bangla Deshis have a strong incentive to learn to swim, and a fairly pleasant environment to learn. Pretty clearly Britain took their planning ahead skills.

Anonymous said...

China will get more medals in the future than now.

They're already doing genetic manipulation adn eugenic mating (Yao Ming being a example of this).

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

My impression is that the swimmers who dominate the butterfly are typically the best all-around.

It could be training regiments, but it looks to me like the men have converged on a particular body top that is suited to all of the events; so you see Lochte and Phelps being highly competitive, often dominant, in both the IM and multiple individual events. With butterfly being the generally most difficult stroke, it may also be that if you can do butterfly, you can do anything else (and everything else given either one of the training or body-type theories).

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

[butterfly]a lot of upper body and core strength to swim it properly and efficiently.

I could certainly be wrong, but I think the "upper body strength" thing was more true in the past. The current swimmers look more like the are finessing the stroke now. Now, maybe you would call this "core" strength, and that might be related, but I think it's much more about flexibility (***) than in the past. Swimmers w/ big upper bodies used to pull them self up, out of, and over the water. These dudes look more like some Nessie undulating through the surface layer.

(*** cf. Janet Evans. She was so flexible that her arms looked like little windmills, and we wondered at the time how long she could keep off the adult muscle and keep that flexibility)

josh said...

I always thought that butterfly was a completely arbitrary stroke. Then, about a month ago I saw lifeguards butterflying out past breaking waves a part of their drills.

New Zealanders are Rugby obsessed, btw. Its part of their cultural identity and draws their best athletes.

Its too bad their aren't a few Olympic sports that are geared to polynesians. The combination of size, strength and speed is unsurpassed in any other human population. A few years ago the New Zealad Maori, an Rugby team composed only of Maori players kicked the living snot out of the British and Irish Lions, composed of the best player from England, Scotland, Wales, and the whole island of Ireland.

Rahm Israel Emanuel said...

OT,

A deadly threat in Chicago: Conservatives.

John D said...

If a guy's second sentence in his main premise is

“If athletic ability is roughly equally distributed around the globe, the more citizens you have, the more great athletes you are likely to have.”

you know you can probably disregard the rest of his article. I fail to see how anyone with a shred of intelligence can have failed to note that in events that require pure explosive athleticism (100M dash, for instance), that people of West African descent have comprised almost every finalist in the event for the past 30 to 40 years.

You can make the argument that some populations are excluded from participating in sport if their basic needs of food and shelter are not being met (let alone leisure time), but in places where those basic needs are met, Blacks dominate in events that require explosive athleticism.

I don't believe he HAS failed to note that, so I don't think he actually believes that athletic ability is roughly equally distributed around the globe. Unless you think a person is plain stupid, you MUST then think that he is disingenuous, and that's what I think this Cowen character is.

I don't remember who wrote this, but Cowen's article fits this idea like a glove: (to paraphrase) Never underestimate the status whoring angle of SWPL moral posturing.

Good job, Tyler.

Anonymous said...

The USSR had specialist nations in various sports, knowing that they could not all afford all sports. Bulgarian weightlifters, Romanian gymnasts, Hungarian fencers.

Don't you mean the USSR had specialist nations such as Lithuanian basketball players, Russian gymnasts, Ukrainian weightlifters? Those nations you listed weren't part of the USSR.

Tony said...

It is a wonder people are still interested in reading the banal liberal pieties of Tyler Cowen.

Ron Woo said...

The observation of your friend who taught college in Japan strikes me as pretty otiose and banal, given that that probably describes a huge number of athletes participating in any Olympics events.

"When Japanese athletes compete in the Olympics they feel they are representing, not only their country, but also their race and all its members."

See, this sentence already contains a redundancy - Japanese athletes who feel that they are representing their country by default feel that they are representing their race - the Japanese are like the Hungarians, as an ethnic group they are largely confined to a single nation-state. Unless your friend means Japanese feel they represent all East Asians, which given their current sentiments vis-a-vis the Chinese and Koreans, is remely extunlikely.

A friendly tip - be wary of the opinions of erstwhile East Asia-based ESL teachers professing to be experts on the countries they've lived in - they're often pretty clueless. This is true even of individuals who are otherwise keen and discerning observers - being in a foreign country can throw the perceptual acuity of even the very bright.

DanJ said...

Our own little Finland dominated the Olympic medals-per-capita rankings through the 1920's and 30's. A poor, newly independent nation worshipped the sporting heroes who brought her fame and recognition on the international stage.

Then came the war, then postwar industrialization, increased prosperity, and eventually a more secure place among Western nations.

In 2012 we are facing the risk of winning not a single Olympic medal. And it's not even headline news.

agnostic said...

"The one I don't get is Belgium ... By contrast the slightly larger Netherlands has won 89 medals in the last three sets of games"

Belgium seems to be weak in everything compared to the Netherlands. Where are the Belgian versions of director Paul Verhoeven, cinematographer Jan de Bont, actor Rutger Hauer, architect Rem Koolhaas (though maybe it's better they don't have one of him), mega-babe Famke Janssen, and exotic dancer / spy Mata Hari?

The most they've produced is a cohort of influential avant-garde fashion designers, and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

They were doing all right from the Late Middle Ages through the Baroque, then they just fizzled out. Even Magritte wasn't a towering figure among the Surrealists.

gummahawk said...

http://www.badeagle.com/2012/08/01/ban-china-from-the-olympics-from-the-world/

Chief is cool. And correct.

Ron Woo said...

"Belgium seems to be weak in everything compared to the Netherlands. Where are the Belgian versions of director Paul Verhoeven, cinematographer Jan de Bont, actor Rutger Hauer"

Pertinent questions - just where is Belgium's own overrated director of artsy smut or action schlock B-movie also-ran?

ATBOTL said...

"My purely anecdotal observation, based on being a baseball fan, is that Mestizos are pretty athletic."

Baseball is full of mulatos and quadroons from the Caribbean, not Mexicans and Salvdorans.

Anonymous said...

Something weird is afoot with that Gabby Douglas gold medal in the all-around last night.

A black girl, who's the daughter of a single black mother [Nadean Hawkins], who was taken in by a white family [the Partons], so that she could train with immigrant Chinese coaches [Liang Chow and his wife, Li Zhuang], all overseen by Romanian immigrant supervisors [Marta Karolyi and her husband, Bela]?!?


She's a poster child for the Stolen Generation.

Anonymous said...

22pp22 would like to point out a gross distortion of the facts in the above article.

"It stands to reason, for example, that Australia will likely win more medals than New Zealand, simply because it has five times the population."

Oz currently trailing NZ 3 to 1.

Go Kiwis!

Matra said...

Belgium seems to be weak in everything compared to the Netherlands.

There have been plenty of Belgian actors and directors - certainly better than the Dutch ones you named. They just don't happen to be Hollywoodish so the insular Anglo world is not likely to know of them. Belgium leaves the Netherlands in the dust when it comes to the more important things, such as cuisine and beer.

Anonymous said...

Something weird is afoot with that Gabby Douglas gold medal in the all-around last night.


A black girl, who's the daughter of a single black mother ..


That part is about as weird as the sun rising in the East.

But I'll grant you that the rest of her story is peculiar.

DaveinHackensack said...

"Dudes point was that Bangla Deshis have a strong incentive to learn to swim, and a fairly pleasant environment to learn. Pretty clearly Britain took their planning ahead skills."

I don't know how pleasant the environment there is for swimming. Seems like the waters might be full of crap:

Instead, they pursued an unexpected line of questioning. “Where do you defecate?” they asked him.

“It was the first time I’d heard such a thing,” he says. Overcoming his surprise at the question, he forgot his initial fears, allowed his curiosity to be tweaked, and gave an honest answer.

He told them that sometimes he used a “hanging toilet”, a metre-high bamboo structure built on the banks of a pond, where users climbed up a rickety ladder to a squat hole that was shielded imperfectly from view by a sack cloth cubicle.

[...]

“Do you know that you eat this goo?” one of the strangers asked, using a Bengali word for human waste, which spans the English spectrum of social acceptability from the scientific right through to “shit”. “If it rains now, it will wash some of the goo into the pond,” the stranger continued. “Then you bathe there, you wash your dishes there, and you wash your food with water from the pond, so you are eating it.”

The Professor was stunned. “That was the first time we realised we were eating our own goo and I felt something very strange inside,” he recalls. “Not hatred but disgust.”

agnostic said...

"They just don't happen to be Hollywoodish so the insular Anglo world is not likely to know of them."

Then it's Belgium that's insular, keeping to itself so much that it makes no impression on other nations, aside from its beer.

Anglo cultures, not the least through Hollywood, have dramatized the narratives and presented visual spectacles of just about the entire world, and outer space too. But we skip over a few Belgians in some forgettable film nerd's canon, so we're insular 'muricans.

The record still stands on Belgian artistic output tumbling off a cliff after Rubens.

After Rembrandt, the Dutch still produced Van Gogh, Mondrian, and de Kooning (for whatever that's worth), and M.C. Escher. The Belgians only managed Magritte and James Ensor (being generous, if we allow de Kooning).

Anonymous said...

Belgium shouldn't even exist... Flanders should join Netherlands and Wallon France.

Steve Sailer said...

Re: Belgium. Small European countries, especially ones that are divided by language, tend to lose credit for their most ambitious natives to big European countries that speak the same language. For example, everybody knows Orson Welles' speech in The Third Man about how the Swiss only invented the Cuckoo clock. Yet, the Swissman Rousseau, a towering figure in the world's intellectual history, a genius who for all his obnoxiousness was a half century ahead of his time, is always associated with France because that's where he wound up.

agnostic said...

And it's not as though the Dutch don't have their own crop of whoop-tee-doo directors beloved by cerebrals. So no matter where we look, it seems that the Dutch outclass the Belgians.

Anonymous said...

It's like if they gave out gold medals in track for a couple of silly walks choreographed by John Cleese.

Racewalking is an Olympic sport. The way they racewalk looks like they could be silly walks choreographed by Cleese.

Here's the amusing racewalking segment from the Tokyo Olympiad documentary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA2K5iUoMU4

FF said...

There is a Canadian shot putter named Dylan Armstrong.

Steve Sailer said...

My high school chemistry teacher, Larry Walker, competed for the U.S. in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in, yes, walking.

FF said...

"Oz currently trailing NZ 3 to 1.

Go Kiwis!"

Continuing our Kiwi tradition of winning Golds while sitting down.

Cycling,canoeing and sailing to come...

Mr X said...

Hergé was Belgian... And, er, Jean Claude Van Damme.

Anonymous said...

2016 Olympics will introduce rugby sevens.

2020 Olympics will introduce 20-20 cricket.

Anonymous said...

"Is there much evidence that African countries are getting better at winning men’s Olympic medals? Sure, it sounds plausible in theory, but where’s the evidence? Ethiopia has been winning distance running medals since 1960 and Kenya since 1964, so this isn’t exactly a hot, late-breaking trend. In the sprints, the African Diaspora continues to do better than African themselves."

What Cowen is saying is actually a pretty conservative prediction, to the extent that Africa can continue to improve health and income. Circa 1900, something like 40% of Englishmen were ineligible for military service due to rickets and other dietary/environmental conditions. My impression is that developmental diseases are still a huge deal in the third world.

It seems to me that if China really wanted to smash the US in the medal count, they could put satellites of their development programs in some of the W. African countries. The most promising children could be moved to China for training and then naturalized as Chinese citizens for competition in track and field. Hopefully there are real world factors making something like that implausible.

"Most of the major sports in the world today were institutionalized by English-speakers. The Victorian Anglosphere had the right combination of eccentricity, cooperativeness, fair-play, and cultural prestige to impose their favorite games upon the world. There was a second efflorescence centered in post-War California that's now institutionalized in the X Games. Today's global poor are unlikely to have a similar creative impact. They are more likely to follow fewer and fewer channels among the existing sports."

Something I've never quite understood: a lot of major sports did originate in the Anglosphere but the governing body of these sports (FIFA for instance) is often based in France. Plus, of course, the Olympics themselves and a lot of older international sports also originate or have their international organizations in France as well. They seem to have had more of an enthusiasm for institutionalizing and internationalizing sports than the English did.

rec1man said...

In the 2010 Common wealth games

Australia = 177 medals
UK = 142 medals
India = 101 medals
Canada = 75 medals
Pakistan = 5 medals
Sri Lanka = 2 medals
Bangladesh = 1 medal

--
Bengalis / Bangladeshis were classified as a non-martial race by the british

The British Army of Bengal had mostly Biharis

The british banned recruitment of bengalis, because they were considered non-martial

In United Pakistan, though bengalis were 60% of the population, they were just 5% of the Army because they were classified as non-martial

ben tillman said...

I have been in the competitive swimming world for about twenty-five years (two guys I swam with are in this Games alone) and no one calls freestyle front crawl.

Sorry, the stroke is the crawl; the freestyle is a type of competition in which competitors now invariably swim the crawl.

It doesn't matter how many times a currency trader says he is trading "cable"; the British currency remains the pound sterling.

What's next -- are you going to tell us football players really can give 110% because their coaches commonly exhort them to do so?

ben tillman said...

The Chinese are really shameless cheaters who whine about being discriminated against.
Pump India up with some PEDs and maybe they'll pick up the pace. Or maybe the Indians just need to eat some beef.


Wikipedia says there are 138 million Muslims in India. I presume they eat beef.

Dad said...

The Japan team has already won more medals than it did in Seoul, Atlanta or Sydney. The judoka still seem overwhelmed by pressure and appear as though their world's have ended in post loss interviews, but many athletes in other sports look like they are enjoying themselves. The women 10,000 meter runners hammed it up, prancing around as if they had won after finishing 9th, 10th and 15th behind a horde of Africans.

Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that if China really wanted to smash the US in the medal count, they could put satellites of their development programs in some of the W. African countries. The most promising children could be moved to China for training and then naturalized as Chinese citizens for competition in track and field."

If they're selective breeding their own people then they won't need to do that.

rec1man said...

Regarding Indians and beefeating

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh perform much worse than India in medals despite being full of beefeating muslims

Also, Vijendar Singh who won a bronze in boxing in 2008 is a vegetarian as is Sushil Kumar , who won a bronze in wrestling in 2008

Both are Jats , a martial caste

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting alternative medal tally compiled by an economist that weighs the medal tallies by GDP, population, and GDP per capita. It's been updated to reflect the results so far at the end of Day 8 of the Olympics, Aug. 5th:

http://www.billmitchell.org/sport/medal_tally_2012.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/judo/highlights-mens-half-heavyweight-100-kg-220-lbs-final-478471.html

IPPON!

Anonymous said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/boxing/highlights-japanese-boxer-robbed-by-controversial-decision.html

Funniest stuff I ever did see.

Anonymous said...

Steeplechase is kind of silly too. There aren't enough obstacles to make it that much of a different event than just straight endurance running.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting alternative medal tally compiled by an economist that weighs the medal tallies by GDP, population, and GDP per capita.

India actually hasn't been doing that bad so far according to medals per (GDP per capita).

It's dead last so far though in terms of medals per GDP and medals per population.

Anonymous said...

"If they're selective breeding their own people then they won't need to do that."

For example i just saw a Chinese guy come second in one of the otherwise all-west-african-descent 100m heats. If they're selectively breeding then you'll see more and more of that over time.

How many olympics till a Chinese guy wins the 100m sprint final?

genetics > drugs

Hacienda said...

"A friendly tip - be wary of the opinions of erstwhile East Asia-based ESL teachers professing to be experts on the countries they've lived in - they're often pretty clueless. "

As opposed to PhDs in East Asian studies who have minimally spent time in E. Asia outside of their schools or had E.Asian acquaintances beyond their colleagues?

The professors. The "China Hands". LOL. They too are clueless. And vastly more harmful. More so, because they pretend to knowledge and understanding and , ugh, moral authority.

Anonymous said...

...And yet, this morning, when I go to all the major sports websites, I am served up, as the lead story, the duel between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 IM. This is really, really weird - I can't figure it out. Some possibilities: 1) Nadean Hawkins is very religious, and is known to be pro-life? 2) The Partons are a bunch of gun-toting, bible-thumping, mouth-breathing Tea Baggers?...

Steve - the Daily Mail [AS USUAL!!!] may be of some help this morning:

Gabby Douglas’ secret heartbreak: Gold medal sensation tormented by absent soldier father – and how family split almost made her give up her Olympic dream

If you scroll down through that story, then you'll see a picture of Gabby Douglas's father holding an American flag, on which is written:

I LOVE AMERICA
GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS
GO TEAM USA
GO GABBY DOUGLAS
LOVE, DAD, FAMILY, FRIENDS

So now I'm thinking that

1) Axelrod doesn't want people knowing that the Afghanistan deployments are ripping families apart [especially Black families], and

2) Axelrod doesn't want anyone seeing patriotism displayed by American blacks, and

3) Axelrod doesn't wany anyone seeing that it was a WHITE family [the Partons] who stepped up to help Gabby in her time of need.

The Gabby Douglas story simply reeks of flyover-country values, ergo it has to be nipped in the bud, and unwritten right out of the history books.

Anonymous said...

"Both Pakistan and Bangladesh perform much worse than India in medals despite being full of beefeating muslims"

Pakistan has won a little less than half the medals that India has won with only a tenth the population. How is that performing much worse?

Anonymous said...

"The Chinese are really shameless cheaters who whine about being discriminated against."

The U.S. has a much more extensive history of doping in the Olympics than China. Because American exceptionalism is practically a religion, Americans aren't very good at losing. If Americans are losing, then it must be a conspiracy.

ben tillman said...

http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/boxing/highlights-japanese-boxer-robbed-by-controversial-decision.html

Funniest stuff I ever did see.


Apparently the Azerbaijanis were caught bribing the officials all the way back in September:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-15020658

BBC Newsnight has uncovered evidence of secret payments of millions of dollars from Azerbaijan to international boxing organisation World Series Boxing (WSB).

Whistleblowers say that WSB's chief claimed the money was in return for a guarantee that Azerbaijani fighters would win two boxing gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics.

The boxing organiser at the Olympics, AIBA, admits an Azeri national paid $9m (£5.9m) to one of their competitions.

But they deny any deal to fix medals:

Ron Woo said...

It seems to me that if China really wanted to smash the US in the medal count, they could put satellites of their development programs in some of the W. African countries. The most promising children could be moved to China for training and then naturalized as Chinese citizens for competition in track and field. Hopefully there are real world factors making something like that implausible. "

Reality would probably make that impossible. Visitors to this site primarily hail from pluralistic Anglosphere nation-states which no longer prioritize their core ethnic identity - one of the chief purposes of this site is to address this issue (or problem from the perspective of many). But many other nation-states aren't like that. China is highly pluralistic but that's a default characteristic arising from the historical expansion of Han Chinese into the homelands of other people. There is very little likeilhood that the PRC will start importing sub-Saharan African to represent the country on a world stage in terms of sporting events. Then again, they have already started importing international talent into their regional soccer and basketball teams, so I could be wrong.

"If they're selective breeding their own people then they won't need to do that."

It's all at once sad, risible and astonishing just how little people outside of China understand the country. It's not some totalitarian engine of nefarious purpose - it's a huge nation-state which happens to be blessed with a competent stump population and rulers.

Anonymous said...

'Uno, dos, tres- el ultimo es ingles!' -as the children of rio team off to play soccer.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure the Japanese aren't faking it? 'Yeah, I was paralyzed by nervousness so I couldn't be a good sport' gets you better gash than 'I'm a butthole' simplex.

rob said...

The Cowen article is a good example example of Sailer's observation that easy predictions are boring. Neither Tyler nor anyone else cares whether Bangladesh goes from zero to one medal cuz of demographics or anything else.

Going from the current medal distributions, it seems pretty likely that changes in income and demographics will be good predictors of change in how well countries do.

From a standing start, demographics are a nearly worthless predictor: if talent were equally distributed, India would womp Kenya and Ethiopia in distance running.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Steve - even more from the Daily Mail:

NBC forced to apologise after ill-timed ad features a monkey doing gymnastics - right after showing Gabby Douglas' gold medal victory

Youtube video HERE.

WTH is going on?

Did Axelrod personally order this assault against poor Gabby Douglas?

Anonymous said...

From the commentary on the Youtube video [sorry, I don't know how to deep-link to a Youtube comment]:

Sorry4DoublePosting: State-run NBC and its affiliates are wholly in the pocket of Obama and the Democrats. This was calculated piece of propaganda designed to humiliate African-Americans, convince them that, in spite of Gabby's triumph in a sport that has been long dominated by "whitey," they are still under siege, and thus motivate them to the polls to vote for, well, Obama and the Democrats. There's nothing more cynical than the Democrats and their dog-whistle politics - and this is a perferct illustration.

I completely agree with that Youtube commenter.

This whole Gabby Douglas affair stinks to high heaven - she's just too dadgum "white", too much of an "Oreo", too "uppity" - and she's strayed way too far off of the Dependency Plantation for their comfort.

So she has to be destroyed.

It's Clarence Thomas & Anita Hill all over again.

Hacienda said...

"which no longer prioritize their core ethnic identity - one of the chief purposes of this site is to address this issue"

LOL. Sure, sure. Back in the ancient era- pre-2006.

Now it is a comedy site with Steve in the role of stand-up comic. "Addressing" social issues the way Jewish comics do. Esoteric, amusing, completely ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

So China isn't a totalitarian nation, eh?
Not allowing the parents any communication with their children who are in training for years?
Not even allowed to attend the events where their kids are competing?
Not allowing news of a Grandmothers death to be revealed until years after the fact?
Oh yeah, the milk of human kindness is just overflowing in that regime.

Ron Woo said...

"So China isn't a totalitarian nation, eh? "

No it really isn't.

The instances you cited are egregious, but do not mean that the PRC on the whole is totalitarian.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the new Olympic events: the Drunk Driving Head-0ns (pick-up category) is fine by itself, however the interest level is so low (as shown by current coverage) that it & the Flash Mobbing team event would be relegated to cable at best. Perhaps Telemundo. Now for major Prime Time coverage- the Mea Culpa Septicemia! A perennial powerhouse in that category- The Ice People! Bonus extra points for Seppuku! Can't you hear the roar of cheers from the SWPL's already?
Of course there's only one entrant, but hey! A Gold is a Gold!

Anonymous said...

American colleges will be inccreasingly seen as overrated in the quest for corporate dominance. The guy who runs Deutche Bank, Anshu Jain, went to the Shri Ram College of Comerce in Delhi, the Wharton of India. Funny, they had to install a token white guy to co-lead with him to appease German racialists, who were appalled that a wog would be running Germany's only venerable financial services company.

ben tillman said...

I'll make a lame prediction: the easy way to win medals is in women's events.

No kidding. I watched USA vs. Nederlands in beach volleyball tonight, and it was disturbing.

I could have teamed up with any of a half dozen friends of mine and kicked the Dutch women's butts.

They're mediocre athletes, but they're in the Olympics because they're women, and most women don't care about sports.

Anonymous said...

In the Walking race, once dominated by Europeans, all three medals were won by non-whites: 2 Chinese and a brown south American.

In soccer/football the 4 semifinalists are Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Korea. It is quite possible that the finalists could both be east Asian.

Anonymous said...

"Michael Phelps Medal Count Compared to Countries"

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/08/michael-phelps-medal-count-compared-to.html

"Michael Phelps has won a total of 22 medals (18 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals). He also has 11 gold medals in individual events and 13 Olympic medals in individual events for a male. He has double the gold medals of the next highest individual.

How does Michael Phelps compare against the medal count of countries ?

If the Olympics were to end now, he would finish tied for 15th in overall medals in this olympics with 6 (4 gold and 2 silver). He would be ahead of Brazil, Ukraine and Belarus if most gold was used as a tie breaker.

He would be tied for 9th in terms of most gold medals.

In Beijing in 2008, his 8 gold would have put him tied for 25th in overall medals.

His 22 medals would be tied for 53rd in overall summer olympic medals. (with Portugal)

His 18 gold medals would put him in a tie with Austria and Ethopia at 37th in summer Olympic gold medals."

Anonymous said...

No kidding. I watched USA vs. Nederlands in beach volleyball tonight, and it was disturbing.

I could have teamed up with any of a half dozen friends of mine and kicked the Dutch women's butts.

They're mediocre athletes, but they're in the Olympics because they're women, and most women don't care about sports.


Yeah it seems like the same 2 American women always compete for the US women's beach volleyball and have been doing so for like ever. Whenever women's beach volleyball is on TV, it's always those 2.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of silly to have beach volleyball at all at the Olympics. It's like having beach soccer or touch football or wiffleball or something at the Olympics.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the brown belt from Arabia via India to Indonesia are horrible in Olympic like sports. Same with many brown Hispanic nations. Its the blacks , the Whites and the Yellow East Asians who dominate these sports. I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the Japanese are learning to deal with this kind of pressure better."

That low fertility rate has to involve pathological narcissism.


What about nihilism?

Anonymous said...

Somehow the brown belt from Arabia via India to Indonesia are horrible in Olympic like sports. Same with many brown Hispanic nations.

It could be due to low GDP per capita.

India, Indonesia, and Latin America don't do that bad in terms of medals per GDP per capita. India right now is 16th by that measure, right behind Germany. Cuba is 14th, Brazil 20th, Indonesia 23rd. Several Latin American countries are in the middle of the pack.

Anonymous said...

In soccer/football the 4 semifinalists are Brazil, Mexico, Japan and South Korea. It is quite possible that the finalists could both be east Asian.

The best soccer players don't seem to play on the Olympic teams though, unlike the World Cup or Euro Championships.

Anonymous said...

The USSR had specialist nations in various sports, knowing that they could not all afford all sports. Bulgarian weightlifters, Romanian gymnasts, Hungarian fencers.

Don't you mean the USSR had specialist nations such as Lithuanian basketball players, Russian gymnasts, Ukrainian weightlifters? Those nations you listed weren't part of the USSR.

But they were part of the Russian empire, more as colonies than provinces.

Otherwise the "specialist nations" theory is mostly true, and depends on both the sporting traditions and physiques of these nations. Hungary and parts of the Balkans and Caucasus, had and still has, a fencing tradition. Romania has a gymnastic tradition (and plenty of short skinny women.) Lithuania and the other Baltic states were the tall spot of the empire - basketball country. (Ditto with Yugoslavia, though it was outside Russian control.) The short muscular build, ideal for wrestling and weight-lifting, is common in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the Caucasus.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the brown belt from Arabia via India to Indonesia are horrible in Olympic like sports.

Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan are not particularly brown; I would personally classify these regions as white. Arabia in general, Lebanon and Syria in particular, are white. But this is just my opinion.

The "brown belt" overlaps another belt, the "short-and-compact" one, stretching from Bulgaria to Mongolia, and producing world- class wrestlers and weight-lifters. That this region is not a wealthy one, has no economic miracles, and might not have a sports-oriented culture, better explains its Olympic non-performance.

An aside re. Arabia: Arab men of all ages have an attitude of testosterone-based arrogance similar to American high-school jocks. But most Arabs make very poor athletes - just something to ponder.

Same with many brown Hispanic nations.

Excluding, of course, white hispanic nations such as Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.

Its the blacks , the Whites and the Yellow East Asians who dominate these sports. I wonder why.

If by "blacks" you mean black Americans, rather than Africans, then the answer is economics.

Anonymous said...

"It could be due to low GDP per capita."

North Korea, Jamaica, Cuba win far more medals than the wealthy Saudis and Gulf Arabs.

The Caribbean island of Cuba used to be an Olympic powerhouse and still wins more than its share of gold at the Olympics. Now another carribean island, Jamaica (population less than 3 million) has been picking up the slack and Afro-carribeans continue to produce champions at probably the highest per capita rate.

Anonymous said...

East Asians are dominating the archery, weightlifting, diving, badminton and table tennis events.

Europe is dominating the bicycle and boat events.

People of african ancestry are dominating the foot races, from the 100 meter dash to the marathon.

Athletes of mixed race, part africans, are dominating the decathlon.

The anglosphere still dominates the swimming races, though China is threatening, and the fastest female swimmer this Olympics is a dutchwoman whose father is ethnic Indonesian from Suriname.

Anonymous said...

Excluding, of course, white hispanic nations such as Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay.

The browner Latin American nations are actually doing better so far. Argentina has 1 medal, a bronze. I don't think Chile and Uruguay have any medals.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Argentina isn't doing better. It's a big country, nice climate, varying geography to support various sports, decent economy, etc. Is it because they're more laid back and don't care as much?

Matthew said...

Re: Swiss intellectuals - Euler, Euler, Euler, a million times Euler. Had the Swiss prouced only Leonhard Euler that would have been quite enough.

Anonymous said...

"It's not some totalitarian engine of nefarious purpose - it's a huge nation-state which happens to be blessed with a competent stump population and rulers."

It doesn't have to be totalitarian. It could be done using financial incentives.

The point is any nation large enough will have individuals physically suited to certain sports and if you breed those individuals then you'll get more of them.

If China are doing that then they'll eventually have a lot of 100m sprint finalists. If they've been doing it for a while then maybe quite soon.

Truth said...

"Apparently that good white neighborhood rubbed off in a positive way instead of getting pregnant at 14, going to prison at 17, etc."

Yes, we all know the percentage of black girls getting pregnant at 14 and going to pregnant at 17 is ASTRONOMICAL!

Truth said...

"Troofie, Gabby is definitely a an honorary white girl; she has an intact family unit...

No she doesn't, her father's been station in Afghanistan for 7 years.

Steve Sailer said...

One other reason Australia did so well in the 1990s and 2000s is that they took a lot of East Europeans and white southern Africans, especially if they were good at Olympic sports.

Anonymous said...

The majority of American gold medals so far (16 of 29) are from just one event: swimming.

The majority of UK gold medals so far (12 of 19) are from 2 events: boat and bicycle races.

The majority of China's gold medals so far (17 of 31) are from the racket sports (ping pong, badminton) and the pool events (diving, swimming).

The majority of South Korea's gold medals so far (6 of 11) are from the target events (archery, shooting).

The majority of Russia's gold medals so far (5 of 7) are from the grappling events (judo, wrestling).

Anonymous said...

"It is quite possible that the finalists could both be east Asian."

Turns out that both Japan and South Korea were easily beaten in the semi-finals by the supposedly inferior brown mestizos and mulattoes of Mexico and Brazil, in the most popular and competitive sport in the world: football/soccer.