As the Olympics wind down, I did one last man-on-the-street informal survey today, this time to find out which country Beijingers think is the big winner of the 2008 Olympics. China, of course, is way ahead in gold medals, but the US has a slight edge (as I write this) in the total medals count.
A few people politely pointed out that no one wins the Olympics, or that the whole world wins. B O R I N G. But when pressed on the total-medals-versus-gold-medals issue, everyone was in agreement that it's gold medals that matter the most.
Some said that the gold count is the way that China traditionally measures Olympics victory, and since we're in China that's the measure we should use this year. "Based on this meaning, the big winner is the Chinese."
One person conceded that America's higher total medal count indicates that Americans are more well rounded across a broader spectrum of different sports--they're just not as good at the sports they're good at as the Chinese.
My favorite answers had to do with the intrinsic superiority of gold, the substance. One woman said gold is worth more, and therefore should be the way we decide overall victory. Another gentleman simply reasoned: "Gold is the most heavy." Enough said.