Saturday, June 23, 2012

The US Olympic Committee's Hunting of Ravelympics Makes Business Week

One does not tick off 2 million people wielding pointy sticks in the world of social media without getting some notice.  Yesterday, it made Business Week:

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-22/why-the-u-dot-s-dot-olympic-committee-cracked-down-on-a-knitting-group

The U.S. Olympic Committee did issue an apology of sorts, though the apology has actually ticked off knitters further.  First, no one in their right mind would believe that a letter which lists actual Ravelympic events AND specifically links to patterns is a "standard" letter.  Second, which every member of Ravelry understands even if the public doesn't, in order to get the list of events and links to projects, someone from USOC actually had to create an account on Ravelry to have access.  This wasn't just some casual form letter.  One can't access Ravelry without an account.  It's free, but one must create a user name and password and join to look up anything on the site.  SO, the U.S. Olympic Committee is so obnoxious about clamping down on anything even resembling the word "Olympic," (which has existed for far longer than the United States has--much less the absurdly zealous U.S. Olympic Committee), that they spend time joining crafting sites in order to spend time sending letters to stop community events from which no one actually profits.  Ravelry is free to users.  The Ravelympic games were created just for fun and no one makes money or pays money to do anything with them.  They weren't even created by Ravelry--it was just something some folks started doing for fun to do something while watching the Olympics.  And THIS is enough of a threat to get investigated by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  Then to ask the knitting community to actually send knitted items TO the athletes that just the day before the USOC statesman had said the knitters were "denigrating" has really just fanned the flames--not extinguished them. 

In one way, I think the deplorable behavior of USOC will put an end to the Ravelympics, but not because of the Cease and Desist letter.  Personally, I have a lot of fun with the knitting games, but I would prefer them to no longer have any remote connection with the Olympic games.  Our games are about fun and team spirit and community, and the behavior of USOC has permanently given me a bad taste of the "real" Olympic games.  The event-formerly-known-as-Ravelympics deserves better, and frankly, the United States Olympic Committee could learn a lot from OUR event. 

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