Today I am following up with a performance-per-dollar analysis of the various Canadian NSFs. Here I define "performance" very narrowly as "winning Olympic medals," and use the annual NSF funding as a measure of the cost of those medals.
I counted up the medals won by each sport in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004 — roughly the time period covered by the spending data — and then divided by the number of summer (3) or winter (2) games. This total was then divided by the average annual Sport Canada contribution to the NSF, in millions of Canadian dollars.
|Sport||Average Annual Funding (M$)||Medals per Olympiad Per Million Dollars Annual Funding|
|Bobsleigh & Luge||0.49||1.02|
|Cross Country Ski||0.55||0.90|
A couple of notes about the data. First, recall that the funding data cover eight fiscal years from 1995-96 through 2002-03. The Average Annual Funding is always averaged over eight years, except for Triathlon, Taekwondo, and Snowboard, which did not receive funding in all years. In these cases I only included years where the NSF received at least $100,000 in Sport Canada money. Also, remember that this annual funding is the total Sport Canada contribution to the NSF, which includes money for high performance and also money for sport development, or participation, or whatever you want to call it. And some of the NSFs have very significant non-government sources of funding, which are not included here.
We shouldn't put too much weight on this, because of the points above, and because of small sample sizes inherent in counting medals this way. But overall, I think it gives a rough picture of the sports that are "efficient" at producing Olympic medallists in Canada. Speed Skating, clearly, is where we are getting the real bang for our buck! I was surprised to see one sport so far ahead of the rest.
Any other surprises? Well, among summer sports I was surprised that Gymnastics is such an efficient medal producer, but I probably shouldn't have been, because the NSF also governs trampoline. I was also a little bit surprised that Diving receives relatively little funding.
Another interesting conclusion is that, on average, a summer Olympic medal is almost 2.5 times more expensive than a winter Olympic medal. Just for entertainment purposes, let's take a wild-assed stab at the impact of Own the Podium (my previous posts: 1, 2). If Own the Podium creates $11M per year of new government money for winter sports, and if we win (on average) 2.27 winter Olympic medals for every million dollars in annual government funding, then we would expect (11 × 2.27) = 25 new medals per winter Olympics.
Twenty-five new medals added to our 2002 total would put Canada well over the Own the Podium goal at 42. Obviously, this is not going to happen. In fact, it would take a whole new post to outline the flaws in my reasoning. But the basic point is that the Own the Podium funding is a very significant increase and will have a significant impact, especially if the funding level can be maintained after the 2010 games.