August 25, 2008

How Japan won the Olympic marathon

It's conventional to complain about the ethnocentrism of American television coverage of the Olympics, but northeast Asian countries are much more monomaniacal about focusing on their own nationals. Japanese television, for example, devoted hours of coverage to Japanese athletes washing out in the preliminary rounds of obscure events. My man in Japan writes:

"You may be thinking that Sam Wanjiru's victory in the marathon was due to his genetics. Wrong. If you had been listening to Japanese TV you would know the truth. He went to school in Japan and it was the training and techniques he acquired in Japan that allowed him to win.

"Fortunately, he speaks Japanese so he was interviewed on TV, the only non-Japanese athlete honored in that way during the last two weeks."


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Watching foreigners play sports is boring. Unless Usain Bolt is involved, and his events are over really fast.

Anonymous said...

It's conventional to complain about the ethnocentrism of American television coverage of the Olympics, but northeast Asian countries are much more monomaniacal about focusing on their own nationals.

Considering that the very near future is going to be dominated by one Northeast Asian country in particular, that observation has all kinds of implications, in things more important than athletic competitions.

When the Chinese "celebrated" their ethnic minorities at the opening and closing cermonies, the minorities all looked pretty Chinese. In reality it was akin to America 100 years ago saying "Look, we've got diversity - we've got white Italians, white Englishmen, white Germans, white Russians, white Icelanders, and white Irishmen, too!"

When Britain "celebrated" its ethnic minorities at the closing cermonies, the minorities were the majority, which may have positive implications for Britain's medal count, but the implications for London streets, education, and politics - not to mention the interests of the actual natives - are more worrisome.

It's enough to actually make one pray for another great depression in Europe and America - one that will hopefully make the foreigners go home.

Mark said...

Japan finished 11th in the overall medal standings - behind the US, China, and Russia, of course; but also behind the much smaller (and slightly poorer) countries of Great Britain, Australia, Germany, France, South Korea, Italy and the Ukraine.

Cuba even came within one medal of tying them.

China's medal disparity - 51 gold, but only 21 silver and 28 bronze - is a gap which means something, though I'm not sure what. Home field advantage? Home air advantage? Did the Chinese only bother to dope those who had a really good shot at winning?

In contrast, the American medals were pretty evenly distributed - 36 gold, 38 silver, 36 bronze.

Going back to that discussion on India, it's quite clear that it's more than just genes which lead to Olympic success. Great Britain responded to its dismal showing in Atltanta by funneling hundreds of millions into training for its athletes. The result was its best showing - 19 golds - since the 1908 games.

If you look at the bottom of the standings - countries with only one medal - you see something you would expect, several tiny countries like Togo, Molodva, and Mauritiues, but also some very big and/or rich ones - like Israel, Egypt, Venezuela, Vietnam, and South Africa.

Josh said...

Steve,do you have any thoughts about Jamaicans like Bolt using PED's(performance enhancing drugs)? Lot o' records falling and the Americans dont seem to be doing so great...After Marion,was it Ross?,(NOT the mother from Happy Days,cause she wasnt even black!) after this woman had her career wrecked by the use of PED's,I dont think any American would hbe anxious to try it for a while. But a dingy Jamaican,mon? (You have to use the word "mon" whenever referring to Jamaicans...mon)

RWF said...

"When the Chinese "celebrated" their ethnic minorities at the opening and closing cermonies, the minorities all looked pretty Chinese."

Didn't it emerge that they were in fact all Han Chinese, just in "ethnic costumes"? It would be like demonstrating the USA's ethnic groups by having a bunch of white guys blacking up or putting on Indian headdresses.

Anonymous said...

"When Britain "celebrated" its ethnic minorities at the closing cermonies, the minorities were the majority, which may have positive implications for Britain's medal count, but the implications for London streets, education, and politics - not to mention the interests of the actual natives - are more worrisome."

How so? Did any of them look like they would be good at rowing or cycling?

DAJ said...

In reality it was akin to America 100 years ago saying 'Look, we've got diversity - we've got white Italians, white Englishmen, white Germans, white Russians, white Icelanders, and white Irishmen, too!'

I'm pretty sure there were quite a few black Africans in the U.S in 1908.

Svigor said...

Second time around, it finally sank home: the benefit of diversity has finally been found! For real this time!

I'd never thought of the Olympics before; it's a bona fide benefit from diversity! (pro sports don't count because the competition isn't international - well at least not here anyway)

It isn't much, but it beats the hell out of the ethnic food answer.

Mark said...

How so? Did any of them look like they would be good at rowing or cycling?

The contributions of British minorities to the medals count wasn't as big as I thought it would be, perhaps because so many of those minorities are subcontinentals. (But we've had that conversation already, no?)

But minorities (all African) did contribute 6 of Britain's 47 medals, including all 4 track medalists as well as one in gymanstics (Smith) and, I think, boxing (Degale).

If anyone thinks that's good enough reason to give away your entire country (has the Wall Street Urinal weighed in yet?) then they're an idiot.

Didn't it emerge that they were in fact all Han Chinese, just in "ethnic costumes"?

Yes, it did. But even if the actual minorities were there, they'd look fairly similar - the difference between an Irishman and an Italian, at most.

It would be like demonstrating the USA's ethnic groups by having a bunch of white guys blacking up or putting on Indian headdresses.

Lots of white guys do that already, don't they?

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure there were quite a few black Africans in the U.S in 1908.

True. Barred from any role in governance and not daring to stray an inch from their own monoculture, but oh Lordy yes the US has always been just a boiling cauldron of diversity.

--Senor Doug

Indra Maghavan said...

"I'm pretty sure there were quite a few black Africans in the U.S in 1908.

True. Barred from any role in governance and not daring to stray an inch from their own monoculture, but oh Lordy yes the US has always been just a boiling cauldron of diversity."

Boy, our country sure has improved with all of the integration, hasn't it? I mean, just look at what it did for Detroit and Los Angeles! In what city can't you go around and point out about a bunch of neighborhood: "Gee, things are a whole lot cleaner and safer now since the minorities moved in!"

Anonymous said...

"Gee, things are a whole lot cleaner and safer now since the minorities moved in!"

Yes if the minorities are East Asians.