SOCHI, Russia — Several years ago, bothered by some of the more obscure Olympic sports, I suggested in writing that the size of the gold medals should reflect each sport’s relative popularity and legitimacy.
Sadly — and oddly — the International Olympic Committee didn’t respond.
I see now that it’s one thing to have an idea and quite another to have a detailed plan or, in this case, a formula. What I’m about to present to you are groundbreaking Olympic metrics that will change the Winter Games forever. I hope the following questions and plus or minus values will guide the IOC in deciding whether the gold medal for a particular sport should be traditional-sized, quarter-sized, nickel-sized or, in the case of biathlon, the size of a dime:
† How many people participate in the sport in your country? More than 100,000, plus-10 points. You can count them on two hands and still have a thumb left over, minus-10.
† How many people tune in when the sport is on TV during the Olympics? More than 5 million, plus-5. Only 5,000, but they chug a beer every time the announcer mentions German ski jumper Andreas Wank, plus-10. Just close relatives of the athletes, minus-5.
† Is the sport ever on TV other than during the Olympics? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-10.
† Is there the possibility of a spectacular crash or an embarrassing fall? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† Could a fight break out? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† If a fight could break out, might it involve women? Yes, plus-15. No, minus-2.
† Are you a morning person? Yes, minus-10. No, plus-10.
† How much does the host country’s ‘‘president’’ crave gold in a particular sport? A lot, plus-5. Very little because he’s too busy suppressing basic human rights, minus-10.
† Can equipment be used as an excuse for poor performance? Yes, minus-10. No, plus-10.
† Could a broken shoelace and a quivering chin give an athlete a do-over during competition? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† Do you believe you’re being watched? No, plus-5. I can’t talk right now because they’re very near, plus-10.
† Does judging decide the outcome of the sport? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† If judging does play a role, what are the chances of a severe-looking Russian judge named ‘‘Ludmila’’ being involved? Good, plus-10. Not so good, minus-2.
† Can you trace the origins of the sport back to a fuzzy bar bet? Yes, minus-5. No, plus-10.
† Stones or Beatles? Both, plus-2. People don’t know this, but Mick actually was the Walrus, plus-10.
† Are most of the sport’s athletes missing teeth? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† Does the sport feature men wearing snappy chiffon outfits? Yes, minus-10. No, plus-10.
† Who in his or her right mind would try ski jumping? I don’t know, plus-5. Like, who wouldn’t!, plus-10.
† Could you put on the sport’s equipment and get to a Black Friday sale in a blinding blizzard? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-2.
† Is there ever enough accumulation to have a snowball fight in your country? Yes, plus-5. No, plus-10.
† Do athletes in the sport go out of their way to wear ‘‘countercultural’’ clothing during competition, make lifestyle statements that seem to point to the existential emptiness of the corporate rat race and then try to grab as much money as possible in product endorsements? Yes, minus-10. No, plus-10.
† Does the sport have a Jamaican bobsledding team? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† Which sock do you put on first in the morning? Right, plus-10. Left, minus-10.
† Curling, really? Yes, plus-5. No, minus-5.
† Are there more than two nations in the world that actually have a proficiency in the sport? Yes, plus-2. No, minus-10.
† If you were a fruit, what kind would you be? An apple, minus-10. What idiot management type thought of that question?, plus-10.
OK, time for our tabulation.
Traditional-sized gold medals: women’s figure skating, men’s hockey and downhill skiing.
Quarter-sized gold medals: women’s hockey, ski jumping, short-track speedskating, ski cross and the rest of the Alpine skiing events.
Nickel-sized gold medals: curling, men’s figure skating, cross-country skiing, long-track speedskating, Nordic combined, moguls and aerials skiing.
Dime-sized gold medals: bobsledding, skeleton, luge, biathlon, snowboard cross and ice dancing.
Crystal-healing medals: slopestyle skiing and snowboarding and halfpipe skiing and snowboarding.
I’m sure there will be debate about this, and some of you might take exception with the methodology. All I can say is that my metrics don’t lie, people. The numbers are the numbers. And what they say is that some gold medals are worth more than others. I eagerly await the IOC’s call.