If you are part of the knitting or crochet world, you’ve probably heard that the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sent a cease and desist letter to the knitting/crochet/weaving site Ravelry regarding the Ravelympics. You can find it here on Gawker. The story has hit many, many news sources, with the general feeling being one of utter surprise. A group of craters having a fun fan event is denigrating the Olympics?
The USOC then released an apology that in part said:
To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games
I’m sorry, what? To show your support of us, you want us to send you things? Really?
A second apology, which was better, was released shortly there after.
Lots and lots of people have weighted in on this issue. Google “USOC Ravelry” and 669 hits (and counting) show up. The threads on Ravelry go on and on.
Now, I don’t claim to think that knitting a pair of socks is the same as participating in an Olympic event, but nor do I think that a fan event featuring crafts denigrates the Olympics in any way. It increases the Olympic spirit, which is sadly waning given all the sponsorship and corporate madness that now surrounds them.
The Yarn Harlot has posted an excellent blog entry about this. (Remember, we are both Canadian, and that adds another dimension to how we feel about the issue.) I think she has some good points. However, the tone of the letter was still inexcusable, regardless of the fact that it was between businesses, and the first apology was nothing short of a joke.
My issue with this whole thing is the way companies can completely take over a name/word/idea. The Olympics isn’t just a world-wide sporting event. It is an ancient ceremony that encompassed certain values, and it is also a word that has taken on the meaning of a competition honouring excellence. (I also am completely against the trademarking of “Stitch and Bitch” since it was in use by groups prior to it being used for the series of books, etc, etc.)
I also disagree with the fact that Ravelympics sounds too much like Olympics. It doesn’t, and to claim so is silly. However, I do understand and support the removal of the rings and other Olympic logos.