Olympic Overreach: A Tangled Web Is Knit

“Ooh, Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night.” Dream Weaver, Gary Wright

So, you love to knit. And every two years, when the Olympics roll around, you love to immerse yourself in a world of sports competitions that you couldn’t care less about the rest of the time; events like swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball. So, naturally, while you spend a fortnight on the couch, you pick up your needles and yarn and combine the two pastimes into a marathon of viewing and knitting indulgence. Better yet, you get together with other like-minded craftsfolk and devise all sorts of nimble contests–like “scarf hockey,” “afghan marathon,” and “sock put”– to challenge yourselves while you watch the thrills of victory and agonies of defeat.

And of course, you come up with a witty name for your group and this clever competition–you call yourselves “Ravelry” and your bi-annual event the “Ravelympics.”

Who couldn’t help but smile upon hearing about your group and your good-natured event with its whimsical name? The U.S. Olympic Committee, that’s who. Where others might see harmless parody, the USOC sees only an assault on the sanctity of the Olympic brand.

So the USOC dispatched a letter to the Ravelers, telling them to cease and desist in no uncertain terms. According to a report in the Washington Post, the USOC viewed the Ravelers antics as anything but a laughing matter. In a time-tested exercise of demagoguery, the USOC accused these homespun yarn- darners of being darn un-American:

“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,” said the USOC’s letter, which Ravelry’s founder, Casey Forbes, posted on the site on June 20. “In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

“Yeah,” one knitter commented on Ravelry, “because it’s so much easier to knit a sweater than run 40 yards.”

Reluctantly, the sardonic Ravelers have concluded that when facing a monolithic international juggernaut with lawyers aplenty and an atavistic attitude towards its precious symbols and names, it’s better to switch than fight.

The needle-wielding Olympic watchers will now call their event the “Ravellenic Games.”

So at least one group of good sports has managed to keep its sense of humor. And when all the Olympic hoo-ha has faded into a dim memory, when Michael Phelps has returned to obscurity, the knitathaloners of the Ravellenic Games will have something–lot’s of things in fact–to show for the time they’ve invested in this Olympiad–socks, sweaters, hats, and more, to keep them warm during the Winter 2014 Ravellenic Games!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think whenever you are trying to establish something new, you have to draw a line and put everything that came before that behind you.” John Doe, musician, The Knitters.

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One response to “Olympic Overreach: A Tangled Web Is Knit

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