Some Texans today would argue that we should secede and become our own country. The idea is entertaining, but it falls apart due to logistics. In the same way, Texas competing in the Olympics, while initially exciting, also disintegrates upon closer inspection.
The Dallas Morning News reports that over 100 Texans competed at Rio. Meanwhile, an Esquire article details how Texas would rank third in gold medals with 26 gold medals and 42 total medals. However, the Dallas Morning News was counting any athlete who had any tie to Texas, many of whom probably would not compete for Team Texas.
In fact, 61 of the athletes on the list of 121 Olympians did not even compete for the United States. The Olympians listed by the Dallas Morning News included 64 Olympians who went to Texas schools: there were 25 Aggies, 19 from UT Austin and 7 from SMU. While it is impressive that so many Olympians competed at Texas universities, this does not mean the athletes would compete for the Republic of Texas. In addition, 13 non-Texans who play for Texas professional teams were listed, along with 48 athletes who actually call Texas home.
For example, Tony Parker was on the list because he plays for the Spurs, but in the Olympics, he plays for his home country of France. Houston Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd was listed as a “Texas Olympian” even though she grew up in New Jersey and only started playing for Houston last year. The list of 121 shrinks to 48 when you count the Olympians who would likely compete for Team Texas.
According to Esquire, Texas ranks third in gold medals, losing only to the United States and Great Britain. In the total medal count, Texas ties with Germany for sixth place. However, if you are counting only athletes who would plausibly represent Texas in the Olympics, the medal count shrinks to 11 gold medals, and 21 medals overall. Texas would be in eighth place in gold medals between Japan and France and not even make the top ten in the total medal count.
Even then, some of the medals won by Texans were won as part of a team made up of other Americans. If Texas was a country by herself, having one member of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team wouldn’t guarantee a gold, even if that one player is Houston native and WNBA superstar Brittney Griner. Texan Courtney Okolo brought home a gold for the 4×400 relay, but without Natasha Hastings, Phyllis Francis and Allyson Felix, she would not have won.
It is clear that Texas would not do as well as initial estimates seem to indicate, especially considering the advantage athletes receive by being part of Team USA. If Texas were its own country, here’s what would probably happen.
First off, the training that typically takes place in Colorado Springs would be scattered throughout Texas. We would not have money to spend on new training facilities, since we would be an independent nation. Swimmers would train at UT. Gymnasts would still train with the Karolyis, and Track and Field would train at Texas A&M. In swimming, we would not be competitive. Longhorn Jimmy Feigen would not stay with us, but would swim for the United States. We would still win some track medals, as 27 percent of Texan Olympians are track and field athletes. Simone Biles would win gold in three individual events, but with just her and Madison Kocian we could not win team all around. In basketball, we would be like France, playing with the few Texans that are in the NBA, and susceptible to a squashing by the USA. In other events, we could win a medal or two, but we’d be mediocre, akin to New Zealand.
What is special about the United States is the diversity of each unique state. Texas is home to many talented people, but we are a piece of a larger picture. We need each other to be the best that we can be in government, in culture and in the Olympics.