Silver Medal

Last night the Junior Orioles lost to the Ravens. As much as I love competition, I hate to lose. However, it’s comforting to know why. 

They played better than we did.

Runner-Up

A runner-up is a participant who finishes in second place in any of a variety of competitive endeavors, especially sporting events and beauty pageants; in the latter instance, the term is applied to more than one of the highest-ranked non-winning contestants, the second-place finisher being designated “first runner-up”, the third-place finisher “second runner-up”, and so on.

While loosely acceptable for describing any second-place finisher in a sporting event, the “runner-up” label is more properly appended to one that finishes in that position as the result of having lost in the final round of an elimination tournament; specifically, its most frequent use is encountered in tennis, and refers to the player (or doubles team) that loses the final match; in most tennis tournaments, a testimonial award, often in the form of a plate, is given to the runner(s)-up following the final match, with the winner(s) receiving a trophy instead. It is rarely a term that is used in other sports.

In American team sports, the term is usually avoided in official circles, because the team losing in the final round of the postseason playoffs will have had to have won the championship of a lesser entity as a condition for reaching the finals; in basketball, American football and Ice hockey this would have been a conference championship, and in baseball a league championship, or colloquially, the league “pennant”. Consequently, the losing finalist will typically be referred to as the champion of its conference (or league in the case of baseball) rather than as a runner-up. Although the team that won the finals will also be a conference (or league in baseball) champion by necessity, it is usually not referred to as such because the title of “finals champion” carries more prestige.

Silver Medal

In the Olympic Games, runners-up receive silver medals, and in competitions held at county and state fairs in the United States, a red ribbon traditionally identifies the runner-up (with a blue ribbon signifying the winner, and white, yellow, green, orange, purple, and brown being the colors associated with third through eighth places, in that order). Read more

Playoffs

The playoffs, play-offs, postseason and/or finals of a sports league are a competition played after the regular season by the top competitors to determine the league champion or a similar accolade. Depending on the league, the playoffs may be either a single game, a series of games, or a tournament, and may use a single-elimination system or one of several other different playoff formats. Playoff, in regard to international fixtures, is to qualify or progress to the next round of a competition or tournament.

In team sports in the U.S. and Canada, the vast distances and consequent burdens on cross-country travel have led to regional divisions of teams. Generally, during the regular season, teams play more games in their division than outside it, but the league’s best teams might not play against each other in the regular season. Therefore, in the postseason a playoff series is organized. Any group-winning team is eligible to participate, and as playoffs became more popular they were expanded to include second- or even lower-placed teams – the term “wild card” refers to these teams.

In England and Scotland playoffs are used in association football to decide promotion for lower finishing teams, rather than to decide a champion in the way they are used in North America. In the Championship (the second tier of English football) teams finishing 3rd to 6th after the regular season compete to decide the final promotion spot to the Premier League.  Read more

An Olympic medal is awarded to successful competitors at one of the Olympic Games. There are three classes of medal: gold, awarded to the winner; silver, awarded to the 1st runner-up; and bronze, awarded to the second runner-up. The granting of awards is laid out in detail in the Olympic protocols.

Medal designs have varied considerably since the first Olympic Games in 1896, particularly in size and weight. A standard obverse (front) design of the medals for the Summer Olympic Games began in 1928 and remained for many years, until its replacement at the 2004 Games as the result of controversy surrounding the use of the Roman Colosseum rather than a building representing the Games’ Greek roots. The medals of the Winter Olympic Games never had a common design, but regularly feature snowflakes.

In addition to generally supporting their Olympic athletes, some countries provide sums of money and gifts to medal winners, depending on the classes and number of medals won. Read more