One Olympic Medal Is Enough – It Just Needs To Be Gold

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Illustration by Seun Ajibola

There’s a quiet period immediately following the Olympics in the city. The national flags are kept away and with the final count of the medals it will be four more years before countries collide. While, the G7 nations continue their dominance, they did not capture the moment. Jamaica did. Using track & field, Usain Bolt and Jamaica claimed not only the gold medals but also solidified their place as the greatest nation of sprinters.  

As Usain Bolt crossed the line winning his third consecutive gold meal, I thought back to a dialogue between Bill Simmons and Malcom Gladwell. In this discussion, Gladwell expounds on the scientific research conclusion on why certain countries like Jamaica excel in one particular field. He called it capitalization rates. Capitalization rates is to how efficiently any group makes use of its talent, said Gladwell. For example, in an African nation, there might be a vast number of people that have the ability to be top executives but never get the chance to develop the talent, while in a country like Canada, if you excel in hockey, someone will spot the talent and help you develop potentially into a professional. The capitalization rate of Jamaica is extremely high, hence its ability to develop strong sprinters.  They simply make efficient use of their talented athletes.

Nigeria has embraced the sport of football and while other sports dominate at the amateur level such as track and field, boxing and basketball; football is the only sport in which Nigeria has performed at a top level. Nigeria has consistently represented Africa in the World Cup but is still in search of a victory in the latter rounds. At the junior level, Nigeria excels even winning a gold medal in ’96 however, Nigeria has failed to capitalize and cultivate the talent at the junior level. 

Nigeria won the football bronze medal at these Olympics, which is a great accomplishment, but I see it as a disappointment. For a country that diverts a significant portion of its athletic resources to its football program, it should follow that Nigeria wins the gold medal. The problem is Nigeria is failing in its comparative advantage and managing its football talent efficiently. Economists use the term comparative advantage, which is the ability to carry out an activity more efficiently than another. Nigeria should focus on its dominance of African football and tighten its grip on football.

Ideas, Sport, FootballFemi Adeyinka