Thursday, 21 June 2012

Are we insulting our athletes?

Well I'm certainly not the first person to post about this, and after a little rant on Twitter I felt that I should compose myself and write this post, to highlight issues that I've seen and perhaps use my sparkling wit to raise a smile.

Other effective posts on the subject have been written by KnitPurlGurl, Joyuna and Bromiskelly (a volunteer for the London Olympics this year).

The offending article can be read here, and I suggest you do read it before I start de-constructing it and adding my own opinions.

Forewarning, I am likely to swear. I am certainly likely to use internet memes. I'm also likely to copy and paste my tweets, so if you follow me on Twitter, you're likely to be reading points again. Ok? Let's go.

For anyone who doesn't know, Ravelry is a social networking site for knitters and crocheters, here you will find 2million+ members who have formed friendships and been united because of their love of the craft, as well as an extensive pattern library.

To coincide with past Olympics, users of Ravelry participated in the Ravlympics, games in which you could partake in whilst you watch the Olympic games on the television. Just a bit of fun, to connect Rav. members from all across the globe.

Being a younger knitter I have felt some scorn at my chosen craft, people have actually laughed in my face, so I did not miss the condescending of the article I have linked you to.
"knitting social network Ravelry—yes, this exists and is surprisingly popular—"

Just one of the quips I had picked up on in the article itself.

Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilities without the need for federal funding, Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to use and control the commercial use of the word OLYMPIC a and any simulation or combination thereof in the United States, as well as the OLYMPIC SYMBOL.
United States? Wait, am I in the right country? Rain, the M6, the highstreet. No, I'm still in England. Interesting though,  "commercial use of the word OLYMPIC". I can only gather that this means they want  money.
The USOC primarily relies on legitimate sponsorship fees and licensing revenues to support U.S. Olympic athletes and finance this country's participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies, like Nike and Ralph Lauren, have paid substantial sums for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships support the U.S. Olympic Team. 
 "Support the U.S. Olympic Team"  is all I'm seeing there. Not all members of Rav. would be supporting the USA in these games. There's been no anguish on the parts of any other Olympic committee.

Nike and Ralph Lauren may have paid to advertise using your "marks" but only for their own advantage;
This brand supports the Olympics? Oh, I'll so buy their product.

Thus,'s unauthorized use of the mark OLYMPIC or derivations thereof, such as RAVELYMPICS, may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of our famous trademarks.

This interested me most. Surely the way in which USOC markets the Olympics would be dilution of it's very origin? Where in Ancient Greece, athletes would compete for the favour of their God Zeus, who lived upon Mt. Olympus. Ancient Greece doesn't sound very American to me.

The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.
1. Changing the name of the event, the "Ravelympics."

This is a fair request in my eyes, it is what follows that has pissed off the knitting community.
We believe using the name "Ravelympics" for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

Firstly I would like to point out that the majority of the 'afghan marathons' I have seen on Rav. have been for charity, not profit, charity. Charity towards fellow man, in what way is this a black mark on the Olympics or the athletes?

And to quote myself here; "Who has made special cushions for the Olympic Village? Knitters." 

I am of course talking about the Woolsack project, in which cushions are knitted and given as welcome gifts to the Olympic and Paralympic athletes due to take part.

I do not see how knitters are being disrespectful here. It's about sharing the spirit of the games, joining in the competition, commemorating the event.

Imagine, in years to come, an acquaintance inquiring about your scarf, in which you can look down at it and say; "I knitted this during the Olympics". Or the athletes who didn't win a medal, but can look at their hand knit cushion and say; "I was there and this is my memento."

The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms "Ravelry" (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS

Oh my, clearly a true linguistic detective. 

1. Removal of Olympic Symbols in patterns, projects, etc. As stated before, the USOC receives no funding from the government to support this country's Olympic athletes. The USOC relies upon official licensing and sponsorship fees to raise the funds necessary to fulfill its mission

These are non-profit patterns, they're free. Free publicity for your event. Free publicity so you can draw in 'the big guns'. They show support for your athletes, perhaps if your merchandise was a higher calibre, we wouldn't resort to creating our own.

I can only assume that certain colour combinations are also a no go area.

I honestly think this is pathetic, there was no need to insult a world wide community in such a manner, they should have just stuck to the asking nicely, because in the end, we're knitters, we're good, kind people and we'd comply.

In the end you insulted many people who use pointy sticks, and possibly your own family members, given that 1 in 3 Americans knit.

I hadn't planned to watch anyway, and due to my nature I feel even more compelled not to.

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