Thursday, June 21, 2012

(Formerly Known as) the Ravelympics

So, apparently there's a big to-do about Ravelry's "Ravelympics" and the USOC demanding that they no longer be called such.  (And I'll admit right now, I only skimmed their lawyer letter.  Life's too short to read legal mumbo-jumbo, unless it's a contract you're about to sign...)  I think there may have also been something about Ravelry no longer using the Olympic logo in any merchandise.  I agree with that aspect of the request-- but the name?  Come on!

I've never taken part in the Ravelympics.  I was considering doing so this time around, but when it comes right down to it, I probably won't.  Nonetheless, I still have an opinion on this very important issue-- that opinion being that trademark privileges are often defended with ridiculous fervor-- and that some people take themselves way too seriously.

I very much doubt that anyone thought the Ravelympics was in any way officially connected with or endorsed by the (regular) Olympics.  Was the Ravelympics going to do actual damage to the prestige of the (sporty) Olympics?  No, I think not.  And yet the USOC would have us believe that the Ravelympics somehow belittle the Olympic Games.

From the letter:
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.
Really?  Disrespectful?  (Ugh.)

When I was younger, I used to enjoy the Olympics (more so than now, to be honest).  I particularly liked watching the figure skating and gymnastics (which my husband has since informed me are not real sports, since there's a good deal of subjectivity in the scoring-- but that's neither here nor there (g)).  However, I think that the USOC (like most such organizations) overstates the importance of the Games:
The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.  For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career.  Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes.  The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.
I have no doubt that it takes a huge amount of commitment and hard work to make it to the Olympics-- but I'm tired of this attitude that Olympic athletes are so much better than any one else-- and therefore deserving of special reverence.  They may be the best of the best in their given sport, but it's still (just) sports, which are not intrinsically more or less deserving of respect than most other activities, including knitting and crocheting.

The last time I checked, no international sporting event had managed to achieve "world peace and harmony".  Also, I get the distinct impression that many of these athletes are there for themselves-- because they want to achieve personal glory.  There's nothing wrong with that-- and I'm sure that for many others, there is a feeling of a higher calling-- representing their nation-- but let's not pretend they're Mother Teresa in sneakers and spandex, okay?

Anyway...
It's just silly, really.  Ravelers were merely joining into the festive spirit of the Olympics-- celebrating the games, more than anything else-- and now the USOC has gone and made it unpleasant.  Way to go on that "harmony" thing, guys!