A storm in a yarn bowl?

Yes, this will be a post about the Ravelympics, but I have some thanks and other things to say first:

Let’s start with the thank yous:

Recently, a couple of people have nominated me for some lovely awards. I haven’t forgotten! I’m just a bit weighed down with stuff at the moment, and for various reasons – mostly relating to having a bad mental-health patch – I haven’t been able to put together my own nominations lists, and so haven’t really felt I could post about the awards. But I really do appreciate it and am hoping to get them sorted next week.

The good news:

I’m so glad everyone liked Cyril yesterday! He’s coming on nicely, and I hope to have the finished product for you tomorrow. I really appreciate the encouragement, especially at the moment, and I’m definitely finding that regular blogging and talking to people is good for me, so I plan to keep it up!

And now the main news of the day:

If you’re on twitter, you may have noticed something familiar in the trending topics this morning

Yup, the Ravelympics have officially made it. Except they haven’t, and I may actually have to go back and delete that word because it breaches copyright. That was the essence of a letter sent to Ravelry owners by the US Olympics committee.

And if they’d left it at that, I think people would have been frustrated, but understood. It’s pretty well known that the various committees of the Olympics can be rather over-protective of their brand logos and words, and I do understand that. If you’re going to come down hard on some, then you have to come down hard on all. Harsh, but fair.

No, the problem was a profound misjudgement in the wording of the letter:

The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. 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.

Denigrate? Disrespectful? Really? As someone on Twitter pointed out, there are more knitters in the US than golfers. Any and all of them could join Ravelry and take part in the Ravelympics/Ravelry Games/Events That Must Not Be Names. It’s surely ridiculous that the USOC thinks that if they did, this would somehow be demeaning to the athletes. I’d love to know how.

What they also don’t seem to have realised is that even if they haven’t insulted *all* fibre crafters – because we’re not just talking about knitters here – they’ve insulted the subgroup who know how to use the internet and social media. Having already got it trending on Twitter, this has now hit both Gawker and Metafilter

The USOC absolutely have the right to protect their trademark and therefore their sponsors – although doing so under the banner of world peace seems a little grandiose, doesn’t it? – but what they didn’t have to do was be rude about it. I don’t think they’ll back down on the name, and they don’t legally have to, but I think an apology would be appreciated. Keep following (and tweeting!) the Twitter hashtag to see what happens.

Although I have to admit what I now mostly have stuck in my head is the scene from the end of Chicken Run where in the midst of the wreckage of their home, Mr Tweedy tells his wife, “I told you they was organised”


5 thoughts on “A storm in a yarn bowl?

  1. Love it, yes 2 million of us with pointy sticks and string, the USOC have no idea what they have unleashed.
    Yes, the letter was insulting to us, and very rude.


  2. What I don’t get is how the *US* OC is complaining about what is in fact a worldwide thing. OK so Ravelry might have been founded in the US and run from there, but many participants are not American. Surely then they could only enforce such a silly and ridiculous ban on those Ravellers who are also Americans? The world is a crazy crazy place…


  3. ooo-ah! what a touchy lot these USOC peeps! Don’t they know that imitation is the greatest type of flattery? So in the name of world peace and nations unity let’s get together and… knit! (or crochet, spin, or whatever fibre-related activity takes your fancy) – no need to be competitive either (first place: vicuña medal, second: qiviuk, third: silk/merino/cormo/beaumont?)
    Disclaimer for easily offended people: this message is slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ and not intended to disrespect anybody. (rolls eyes and drops stitch from complicated lace pattern – $&!T!!!)


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