The age-old question. To win a gold medal, to be the best of the best in the entire world has to be an unparalleled feeling. It not only provides the athlete with a sense of accomplishment and pride, but the entire nation.
By the same token, earning a medal of any metal is one of the most impressive feats in sports. When we lose the gold to China and get silver, it stings, but if we're beaten by Australia in, say, a swimming event, then I welcome that silver with equal enthusiasm and pride.
In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, "If you're not first, you're last," but does the same ring true during the Olympic Games? Does standing atop any position on the podium getting a medal around your neck really mean that you are last? To be able to compete in the Olympics, and to be able to take home a medal is the ultimate dream for any athlete.
No country is going to win nothing but gold medals alone. Winning a smattering of medals in the 302 sports is the goal of all 204 countries competing. If you ask me, the most medals overall is far more impressive than overall golds.
The overall medal count will get dicey as badminton and table tennis draw to a close, but as the team sports close in and track and field events loom large, I think Team USA is in a good place.