February 23rd, 2006

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Sleepless in Fremont

I'm glad the Olympics only last two weeks. I don't think I could handle too many more days of insufficient sleep while sitting up late and getting up early to watch the games. Last night I watched the curling semi-final on tape while proofreading the next issue of Emerald City. This evening, I'll be dividing my attention between the women's gold medal match I've recorded and the prime-time coverage.

This morning, John Madden, talking on KCBS radio, was making fun of curling, saying it's a boring game. I wish it was a call-in show, because I would have called and asked Madden, "What about bocce?" (Madden is big on bocce.) It's a similar sort of game, with players sending projectiles down to a target at the far end of a long thin court, with only the team whose projectiles are closest to the target scoring.
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Making the Silver Medal More Meaningful

I got to thinking about the "tournament" games (like ice hockey and curling) and how a silver medal is apt to be perceived as "losing" because your last game is a loss, in contrast to the bronze, where your last game is a win. So, how could you set up the tournament so that you have to win a game to get the silver medal?

Here's one method. Currently (to use curling as an example), after pool play the top four teams go to the medal round, seeded 1-2-3-4. 1 plays 4, 2 plays 3; the winners play for the gold, the losers for the bronze, and the loser of the final gets the silver.

To make a system where you have to win your last game to take a medal of any color, you'd have to start with the gold medal game, pitting 1 versus 2. (Only 1 or 2 could possibly win gold.) The winner gets gold; the loser plays 3 for the silver. The winner of that game gets silver; the loser plays 4 for the bronze.

There are obvious problem with this, starting with the anticlimactic nature, whereby there are two matches after what should be the final, gold medal game. There isn't any method I can think of that avoids this flaw.
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All Right on the Night

When Shizuka Arakawa stepped onto the ice tonight, my first reaction was, "What a great costume!" Toinight, it was more than the outfit that was great for the Japanese skater.

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The new scoring system is supposed to reward the best skater on the night, the one with the best performance, not just someone with a big reputation. From my non-technical point of view, it appears to have succeeded.