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Two Thoughts on Olympic Medals

/ 3 min read

The Olympics are rolling around soon, and so I thought I would share two thoughts on Olympic medals that I have.

I'd love to have one of these things...

Happiness Hierarchy of Medals

First, I have this theory that there is a ”Happiness Hierarchy” of how medal winners feel about the medals that they win.

Obviously, a Gold medal winner is at the top of that. There is, of course, no better medal to win than the Gold, and these folks are the happiest. I’m thinking that many Gold medal winners were expecting to win Golds, and thus when they do, they are of course satisfied. Others might have peaked at the right moment, or just gotten lucky in some way. But of course, winning a Gold medal is a Bucket List item of the highest order.

But surprisingly, next on the happiness hierarchy is the Bronze. I think many Bronze medal winners were thinking “I have a shot at a medal, but I’m not sure. I don’t know about winning a Gold, but Bronze? That might happen.” Then when they win a Bronze, they are thrilled, and perhaps even a little surprised. I’d even venture to say more than one Bronze medal winner was utterly shocked to be on the podium at all.

Finally there are Silver medal winners. I think Silver medal winners are happy to win a medal, of course, but that feeling can be tempered by the notion that they could have won the Gold. Sometimes they expected to win a Gold, and might actually be disappointed with a Silver. Silver is kind of the “first loser” medal, and so I think it might not be as pleasing to them as a Bronze often is.

Olympics Not Always the Pinnacle

In most sports, an Olympic medal is the main goal and the peak of accomplishment. If you are a Track and Field athlete, Olympic Gold is the ultimate award. Same for Swimming and Diving and a host of other sports.

But for many sports, particularly sports that have popular professional leagues, winning an Olympic Gold is nice and all, but not the main prize they seek. Ask any NHL player, and they’d trade ten Olympic medals to get their name on the Stanley Cup. Every NBA player would love a Gold Medal, sure, but they’d much rather have an NBA Championship ring. Same for a soccer player and the World Cup.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I’ll never win an Olympic medal, so what the hell do I know.