In this daily series, Bleacher Report has been keeping a cumulative score of the entire track and field competition, much like you'd see at a high school or NCAA championship track meet. After today's final event, the men's marathon, we're ready to finalize the scores and standings.
But first, a quick recap of today's marathon.
On a rather hot day on the course, Stephen Kiprotich gave Uganda its only medal—a gold—as he passed two Kenyan favorites late in the race, and never looked back. In fact, near the finish, his lead was so secure that he grabbed an Ugandan flag, draped it over his shoulders and ran the final meters in celebration mode.
Kiprotich's time was two hours, eight minutes, one second.
Kenyans Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang settled for silver and bronze. America's hope for one final medal fell almost two minutes short as Meb Keflezighi finished fourth. Ryan Hall (U.S.) dropped out with a hamstring issue near the 11-mile mark.
Okay. Let's look at the final tabulations.
|Men's Team||Women's Team||Overall Team|
| USA 162 ||USA 141|| USA 303|
| Kenya 61 ||Russia 136|| Russia 176.5|
| Jamaica 53 ||Ethiopia 60|| Kenya 112|
| Great Britain 51.5 ||Germany 55|| Jamaica 107|
| Russia 40.5 ||Jamaica 54|| Germany 95|
| Germany 53 ||Kenya 51|| Ethiopia 90|
| Ethiopia 30 ||China 43|| Great Britain 85|
| China 27 ||Great Britain 31|| China 70|
Note: we're using an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system for places 1 through 8.
First, let me acknowledge an oversight from my previous column. There actually was movement among the final men's standings after today's marathon—and quite significant movement.
Kenya scored 15 points, jumped up in the men's team standings three spots (to second) and overtook Jamaica in the overall standings. Keflezighi's fourth-place finish also gave the U.S. another five points.
In reviewing the women's team scores, it could be argued that the final 4x400-meter relay actually was critical in deciding the final standings (a secret hope I had harbored throughout the competition).
The U.S. women would have had to finish sixth or worse and the Russian women first in order for the team outcome to have been reversed. A dropped baton or a disqualification in the 4x400 is rare, but not unheard of. As it was, the U.S. women blew away the field and the Russian women claimed a distant silver.
Not that I'm unhappy with the result. Its just that I love a thrilling finish to a track meet.
Why We Scored This Competition
With the gradual decline in popularity (among casual fans) of track and field in America since its former "golden age," one suggestion always surfaces as to a possible remedy—more scored meets.
We seldom see the great dual-meet rivalries and regional club meets of the past. The popular Cold War era USA vs. USSR series was extremely anticipated and well-attended. Any track meet with team scores was sure to get fannies in the seats.
Understandably, huge invitational meets like the Diamond League series and the European tour don't lend themselves to team scoring. But the scored meets are something many of us think the public is clamoring for.
The Olympics and the World Championships, however, do lend themselves perfectly to team scoring. Spurred by an article from sports marketing expert Rich Perelman, I decided to keep score for every event in this year's Olympic track and field competition.
Why the IOC Doesn't Score Olympic track and field
Here's the Olympics Creed:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
Noble words, but you'd have trouble getting any world-class athlete to buy into it today.
Fans want to have that sense of finality when a competition is completed. It is human nature to "compare" and to keep score, and team scoring has a benefit which goes beyond individual medals—it elevates competition to a place higher than "self."
Winning and losing—it is the essence of sport.
In keeping with the Olympic spirit described above, the media and Olympic officials have refused to tally an official Olympic national team score, yet in order to have some sense of comparison, we have naturally gravitated to an unofficial "medals count" which has become our de-facto scoring system.
Like the little kid whose parent refuses to let him play with a toy gun—he'll eventually find a way to make a gun out of a stick.
At least in track and field, why not keep a more analytical and revealing team scoring system than a simple medals count?
In a previous column, I ran an unofficial poll. Over 75 percent of respondents favored scoring the Olympic track and field competition. I think the public is ready.
Let's do it again in Rio.