Thursday, 21 June 2012

Of the modern Olympics (lack of) values...

Yesterday evening I went to bed very late.
I could use some useful, predictable yet ever so true excuses such as: I got back home very late and by the time I had dined, cleared the kitchen and tidied the rest it was very late. 
Or: I didn't realize hunting a single mosquito from hell would prove so time-consuming and unsuccessful.

Or I could be even more honest and say: "WTF?!?! How can it be that with more than 30°C outside, I'm sitting cross legged on the bed with a nice skein of Icelandic wool on my lap, trying desperately to figure out where math failed me and consequently I failed EZ's pi-shawl!?! Am I mental or what?!?"

I am "what", but also a bit mental, since that's exactly what I was doing yesterday evening. Literally sweating some sense in a round that didn't match the instruction. I was supposed to have 12 rounds of 24 stitches, and yet finishing 4 stitches short.
For about 2 hours yesterday evening I was quite calm and collected: *knit-knit-knit, rip-rip-rip* repeat to the end of the round.

I got to the point I was too tired and sweaty to figure out those 4 treacherous stitches (oh, but I will do get them, just wait and see). I showered yet another time, I was ready for bed and I just before switching off the light, I did what I normally do: last check of personal mail, rss feed, flickr and ravelry.

I shouldn't have: it was already way after my bedtime, I was tired and I ended up reading this: no good. No good at all.
If you can't read it because you're not on Ravelry (i.e. you're not a, mmmh, let's see... a Ravelette?), worry do not: it got some attention on other websites and reaction from people on Ravelry was quick and 360° on any social web.

What's all about? Well, during the 2 weeks of the Olympics, the Ravelympics will take place as well. 
What are the Ravelympics, you might ask? Well, it's an event for knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers that takes place in that 2 weeks: it's about starting and finishing a project in those two weeks. It's quite a challenge. I'm not saying it's like running a marathon, but it's not exactly the same as watching TV in the evening. 
Now, the US Olympic Committee, that owns the Olympics, or at least its trademark, sent a cease and desist letter to Ravelry co-founder Casey because, ehm hem, let me get my glasses and adjust my voice as Perry Mason's district attorney, "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".
Right, nothing worse than spending two weeks knitting socks 2-at-the-time (as somebody might be tempted to do) to bring down the hard work of the athletes. Luckily there are some sponsors to cheer them up though.
In a way, it made me even a bit chuffed as, according to their legal office the Ravelympics:
"may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of (our) famous trademarks" 

Am I, Virginia, messy knitter with no grasp of lace knitting, clumsy baker, moody aunt extraordinaire, really posing a treat to the Olympics up to the point of being considered an unfair competitor?! 
My oh my! we need to get ourselves an entourage, and we need to start rephrase all our posts in majestic plural!

Amongst the many feelings this news caused me, I think sadness was the main one. Sadness as I see this whole story to be quite the perfect and depressing mirror reflecting our times: I enjoy knitting but make no profit out of it. I am not planning to finish a sweater and getting myself a nice Dalek softie during those week as a crafty way to show the finger to the athletes.
But obviously the USOC is not about Olympics values at all, it's about the values of sponsorship, the money they will get by selling the Olympics and their values.
Because if you thought that the values of fair competition, friendship amongst country and people, the message of peace and cease of hostilities that the name carries with it belong to humanity as a whole, you're dead wrong.
They are trademarked.
Now that I think about it, if you thought all of that above, you're probably and alien or a figment of my imagination, cause not even my 1-year-old-tomorrow niece believes in that.

Needless to say, to be completely honest, yes, I did got slightly annoyed by the petty misogynistic way knitting and crocheting are described, but I'm sadly used to hear that: reminded me of a former colleague, who use to make fun of my knitting, never really understood why, I guess envy and pettiness. 
End of the story for now is that USOC had to publish something resembling an apologies, stating that they just sent a standard cease and desist letter to protect their trademark. Once again a confirmation about values being universal(ly trademarked) and the weird idea that any standard letter the U.S. Olympic Committee sends out are not only quite downright rude, disrespectful and accusing letter, but they also as general standard rule, refers to knitting! And that's something that might make us talk like our beloved friend Liz, for quite some time. Now, let us get back to our shawl before we see to have some heads running...


  1. Hai detto esattamente tutto quello che c'era da dire!!!!!!!