If you have not heard, the US Olympic Committee thinks knitters (or at least those participating in Ravelympics) are scum. Here is my response (ok, my initial response was to fly off the handle on twitter, but this is my measured response):
Dear US Olympic Committee
I am a knitter. I am a participant and team captain in Ravelympics. I am also a huge fan of the Olympics. I look forward to both the Summer and Winter Games with eager anticipation, and I watch as much of the games as I possibly can (and nowadays DVR the parts I can’t, to be enjoyed later). I cry at the opening and closing ceremonies, not to mention countless medal ceremonies in between. I scare the bejeezus out of my cats by jumping up and down and cheering athletes on rather loudly. Safe to say, I love the Olympics and what it stands for. Your recent cease and desist letter to Ravelry makes me question your love for these games though.
I’ll be honest, I have been questioning your commitment to the principles and ideals of the games for a while now. Every time I see a McDonald’s or Coke commercial showing athletes eating and drinking the shit that is directly linked to our national obesity crisis, I have to question whether perhaps you as a committee supporting our athletes care more about the money than about the message you are sending. Still, it wasn’t until this C&D letter that I realized that my suspicions were true.
Beyond the point that 1. Ravelympics does not attempt to compete with the Olympics and 2. Ravelympics does not seek to profit from the Olympics, there is this:
“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.”
Let me back up.
I knit whenever I watch TV, from football games to movies to Judge Judy reruns. I cannot just sit and watch TV. So I will be knitting to the Olympics no matter what. As far as I can tell, simply watching and cheering on the athletes, while I knit, is pretty damned respectful, not to mention appreciative of their work. I certainly don’t need to be sitting on my hands to respect their work and achievements. Ravelympics, in case you weren’t aware (which you clearly are not), was set up by knitters for knitters to take up the gauntlet thrown down by our athletes. I don’t run, swim, cycle, jump, hurdle or ride. I knit. Knitting is my passion and my craft. So when I see someone giving it their all, training, learning, pushing themselves, challenging themselves, I feel pretty damned inspired to do the same. But instead of going out and killing myself trying to run a marathon, I learn a new technique, I push myself to finish a languishing project, I knit a fucking sweater. And I do it while watching the Olympics. I do it with thousands upon thousands of other knitters, who are also challenging themselves in the Olympic spirit. I team together with knitters from other walks of life, other countries, other skill levels, and other life experiences. I learn from them as they learn from me, and together, we accomplish our individual and group goals, while congratulating each other on our respective country’s accomplishments in the Olympic Games and sharing the experience of watching, supporting and celebrating this international event.
What exactly is it about this that is disrespectful to the athletes and/or denigrates the Games? Seriously, I would like an answer to that question. The way I and all the other knitters see it, we are doing nothing but celebrating the Games, the athletes, and the spirit behind it all. Another question: how is sitting on the couch, gorging yourself with the poison from McDonald’s and Coca Cola elevating the Games and respecting the athletes? At the very least, that is the message you are sending.
So now that you have caused me to lose faith not only in the US Olympic Committee, but in the country as well, here is what I am going to do:
1. Watch the Olympic Games on Canadian TV (I am blessed to be able to do this, living where I do)
2. Cheer for Germany. As a dual-citizen, I get to pick either or both, and right now, I’m picking the country that doesn’t disrespect my craft and the heritage and history behind it
3. Boycott all of your sponsors.
4. Knit my damn heart out during the Olympics.
So what are you going to do? The copyright crap aside (how petty can you really be?), you owe all knitters and crocheters out there a pretty fucking huge apology. It’s one thing to send a C&D letter, a whole other thing to be mean, disrespectful and, well, douchey to an entire subgroup of crafters. The apology might not be enough.