by wjw on July 29, 2012

Now that the London Olympics are under way, giving television viewers the chance to view sports, like judo or archery, that they only care about every four years, we can brace ourselves for the inevitable editorials pointing out how the Olympic ideal has been debased by (choose one) nationalism, money, professional athletes, money, television, or money.

Okay, so the sports have been debased.  But what about the medals?

This year’s Olympic gold medals aren’t gold . . . much.  They’re 92.5% silver, 6.16% copper, and only all of 1.34% gold.  The silver medal has more copper than the gold medal, and the bronze medal has no bronze at all.

If I were an athlete, I’d complain.  Who wants to break world records to win a gold medal that’s 92% silver?

Debasing the medals.  Talk about literalizing the metaphor.

I’m sure the medals look good on TV, though.  Which is probably the point.

DorjePismo July 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

What’s in the bronze medals? If they’ve got copper in them, it’s sort of hard to say they’re not bronze at all.

wjw July 30, 2012 at 4:25 am

The bronze medals have a tiny percentage of tin, under 1.5%, which might qualify them as bronze, or anyway bronze-ish. But they have a much higher percentage of zinc, which means they’re really brass.

DensityDuck July 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

The point is that it looks bad to have winning Olympic athletes melting down their medals and selling the bullion, and those athletes make so little money that if you put very much base metal in the medals then that’s exactly what would happen 🙁

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