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.
The Ravelympics “denigrates the true nature of the Olympic Games”? The Ravelympics is “disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes”?
Now, it’s not clear exactly what scarf hockey is, but it is safe to guess that its creators aren’t even vaguely interested in denigrating or disrespecting. They’re having fun, just the way a sausage maker in London might enjoy fashioning the Olympic rings out of bangers. It’s one thing to defend a trademark, which “Olympics” definitely is in the United States. But it’s something else entirely to suggest that the Ravelympics will send Usain Bolt into a death spiral, howling, “Where is the respect? If only I hadn’t been mocked by that damned Ravelympics, maybe I coulda run my 100 in 9.6.”
The howls of offended knitters grew to shrieks. Twitter was all atwitter, and within 24 hours, #ravelympics was a trending topic. Several hundred knitters stood ready to knit a lifetime supply of socks for Stephen Colbert if he covered the controversy on The Colbert Report. By the afternoon of June 21, USOC lawyer Patrick Sandusky issued an apology.
When the howls continued because of the inadequacy of the apology, Sandusky issued another one: “We sincerely regret the use of insensitive terms in relation to the actions of a group that was clearly not intending to denigrate or disrespect the Olympic Movement. We hope you’ll accept this apology and continue to support the Olympic Games.”
When a community has 2 million people holding 4 million sharp and pointy needles, not to mention the online savvy to raise a massive stink, it’s easy to understand why these lawyers would apologize. And apologize again. You lose the knitters, you lose a huge audience of people who consider the Olympics the equivalent of Oscar Night, the Super Bowl, and a boxed set of Mad Men, all in one.