Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a University Professor and Director of Cities at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, and a Distinguished Fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
When it comes to the Games, the West Coast dominates.
Michael Phelps has more medals than many countries. But even the greatest medal-winner in Olympic history did not earn enough in these games to push his hometown of Baltimore into first-place among United States metros.
In the spirit of friendly competition, Patrick Adler, an urban planning doctoral candidate at UCLA, parsed the data on Olympic medals won this year by where athletes live. A couple of notes: Adler tracked the medals won by every individual athlete on teams, so these counts are not comparable country counts. Additionally, he was able to track down locational information for most, but not all, of the athletes on the team. My Martin Prosperity Institute colleague Zara Matheson mapped the data, by total count and by per metro population.
Los Angeles leads with a whopping 45 medals, San Francisco is a distant second with 11, followed by Miami, Gainesville, and Trenton-Ewing with 10 each; New York and Austin have 9 each; San Diego has 8 and Athens, Georgia, won 7. Baltimore and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul brought home 6 each; and Denver, Charlotte, and Portland, Oregon have 5 each.
When the medals are looked at by population, smaller cities vault to the top of the pack. Gainesville takes the top spot with 3.9 medals per 100,000 people, nudging out Athens with 3.8. Trenton-Ewing is third with 2.8. College towns also do well, like Lawrence and Manhattan, Kansas; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Auburn, Alabama; Austin and College Station, Texas; Lafayette, Indiana; Charlottesville, Virginia; Eugene, Oregon; and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
As I noted in a previous post, Olympic athletes cluster around Olympic and college training facilities, and also benefit from training with and competing against each other. Just look at the new gymnastics-darling Gabby Douglas.
Photo credit: Luke MacGregor/Reuters