Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Ravellenic Games

were supposed to be the Ravelympic Games but were stopped in their tracks by USOC - the United States Olympic Committee.
Now anyone who knows me will also know that I am not interested in sport - apart from a minimal interest in the psychology of the game of cricket. Participating in sport would be bad enough but watching it? I just do not understand the fascination with watching it .
At the same time I know other people love watching sport. They go to matches. They support teams. They buy coloured scarves and beanies and dangly mascots. They get into fierce, even violent, confrontations with others over which team is best.  If the "wrong" team wins - or loses - it is seen as a tragedy. Perhaps it is. I doubt it but people will think that way. I have a second cousin who analyses cricket and Australian Rules football as if they are more important than the national economy. (Perhaps they are. I do not know.)
So we have something called the Olympics. It is a theatre of war where drug taking is one of the weapons and where you need to shave a micro-second off with the help of micro-technology in order to gain a "world record". (Logically there has to be an end to "world records" - unless people can win in negative time.)
We also have people who want to watch all this, who will spend hours watching this giant "sports day". A lot of knitters apparently want to watch it. While they watch they knit.  So along came Ravelry - a huge internet knitting site. They set up the "Ravelympics". It was intended as a harmless piece of fun but the USOC people did not see it that way. No. It was a breach of the word "Olympics" over which they had trademark "rights".  They sent a "cease and desist" letter to the people at Ravelry.
There was an outcry - from people like Ruth Marcus and Juliet Macur in places like the Washington Post and the New York times, from people who belong to Ravelry, from people who belong to other knitting groups, from people in North America and from all other parts of the world.
USOC won. Ravelry gave in and changed the name to the Ravellenic Games but not before USOC had to apologise twice.
I understand why USOC won - it is all to do with money and sponsorship - but it also lost too.  It lost a lot of good will from ordinary people - not just knitters.
It also lost an opportunity. It could have accepted that knitting is not the domain of littlle old ladies sitting in their rocking chairs. All sorts, shapes and sizes of people knit and crochet, spin and weave. There are other events associated with other sports events - Tour de Fleece anyone? - and nobody seems to mind. Knitting yarn companies have even put out sock wool associated with the countries of the world's major players for soccer's World Cup. There is an expectation that people will knit and watch sport, that they will feel that they are participating in a small way.
USOC needs to reconsider their stance for next time around, indeed the matter should go to the IOC and there should be an official competition. It could be a fundraiser. Perhaps the money raised could go on training athletes from some of the poorest countries in the world so that their athletes get a chance to participate, or just for their children to run, jump, hop, throw and swim. It should go to helping those who really are competing on merit and not on drug fuelled, science filled training.
Why not? I might even join in. Everyone should be able to participate in some way - if they want to.


jeanfromcornwall said...

Today's nonsense - the London Ol***ic organisers have been saying that policemen and other security people who have branded items such as crisps in their packed lunches will be required to decant them into clear plastic bags, so as not to infringe the purchased rights of the official food suppliers. They actually had the wit to realise how bad this made them look and have withdrawn the instruction.
It was beginning to look like Disneyland, where they frisk people to make sure they are not taking in a homemade packed lunch.

catdownunder said...

Good grief - that's unbelievable. As for Disneyland, remind me never to go - I had no idea!