Bob: We're here at the formerly-known-as-Ravelympics training camp, where the knitting world was stunned yesterday by an official Cease and Desist letter from the United States Olympic Committee, which asserted the term "Ravelympics" and knitting events such as scarf hockey "denigrates" the game's athletes. Knitters worldwide surprisingly responded with something strongly resembling outrage.
Ron: They did indeed, Bob. Rumor has it that the email inbox of the U.S. Olympic Committee was filled by evening. I believe officials were slightly shocked by the fury of 2-million crafters wielding sharp, pointy objects whose passion had just been insulted. I'm sure they believed that the grandmotherly-types who were clearly exploiting the Olympic fervor for their own nefarious means (fun) would assume "denigrate" was meant in its very nicest sense.
Bob: In further developments today, the U.S. Olympic Committee has issued a statement:
Statement from USOC Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer Patrick Sandusky:
“Thanks to all of you who have posted, tweeted, emailed and called
regarding the letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics.
Like you, we are extremely passionate about what we do. And, as you
may know, the United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit entity,
and our Olympic team receives no government funding. We are totally
dependent on our sponsors, who pay for the right to associate with the
Olympic Movement, as well as our generous donors to bring Team USA to
The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a
standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to
protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization
that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a
personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters
are not supportive of Team USA.
We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace
hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of
New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team
to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry
community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to
create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.”
Ron: We have with us in the studio today a spokesperson from USOC. Welcome Mr. USOC.
Mr. USOC: Thank you Bob and Ron. It's a pleasure to be here at...........what do you call yourselves?
Bob: The Wide World of Wool
Mr. USOC: Ah, I see. The Wide World of Woolens. Interesting. [makes note to check to see if this name violates anything that makes the USOC money]
Bob: Now in your statement, USOC claims that the letter that has outraged knitters world-wide was a "standard form" cease and desist letter. Are you honestly saying that you have a regular form letter which specifically mentions afghan marathons, scarf hockey, and sweater triathalons?
Mr. USOC: Oh yes--we believe in being prepared. One never knows what sort of hobby one will need to insult next. We have standard letters prepared which refer to quilters as "disturbed, obsessive-compulsive grannies," scrapbookers as "deranged, scissor-wielding psychopaths," and spinners as "reclusive shut-ins begging for an intervention." One never knows which groups will completely "denigrate" the true nature of the Olympic games next.
Ron: Which would be competition? Fair play? World-wide good will?
Mr. USOC: Of course not--it's MONEY. Why do you think we have the games? We need something happening to be able to sell sponsorships and exclusive rights. And we will certainly not relent on our quest to make sure that NO ONE exploits the name of Olympics--or any part of that word--for anything that we can't make money from. That is the TRUE Olympic spirit.
Bob: So that would explain your challenge to The Olympian, a newspaper that was actually in existence seven years before the first Olympics in 1896? You don't find that a tad bit extreme?
Mr. USOC: Extreme? We're the organization willing to incur legal expenses to stop some harmless knitters from doing something purely for fun and which generates no profits of any kind for anyone. We believe nothing is too extreme to make sure the Olympics stay completely about MONEY. Or, I should say, about money for US.
Ron: And it doesn't strike you as even the least bit asinine to tell the knitting world, only one day after you said their hobby "denigrate" the Olympic athletes, that you now hope they will spend their time knitting things for the athletes--while still not allowing them to use the name "Ravelympics?"
Mr. USOC: Asinine? Of course not. We have no problems using athletes to rake in millions from such incredibly unhealthy products as McDonalds and Coca-Cola. We see no contradiction in using the world's finest athletes to promote products they wouldn't possibly consume for health reasons. In the past, we disqualified any athlete who had ever been paid ANYTHING while we raked in millions for the games themselves. Why would anything about our current statement strike us as "asinine?"
Bob: You're right. I can't think of a single reason why it would.......