Supporters of knitting flooded the USOC Facebook page following the release of the letter on Wednesday. The Olympic body sent the cease and desist letter to a knitting social network called Ravelry, which held a knitting "Olympics" over the past three years and was planning to run this year's event concurrent with the London Games.
It was, as the USOC says in its apology, a standard letter, with the exception of two sentences in which unnecessary swipes were taken at knitters. Trust me on this. I know unsubtle, intentional digs when I see them. (See below: Diving.)
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.
Does it? Does it really, USOC? There are a number of disrespectful things you do to our country's finest athletes. Among them: Making them wear these hats at an Opening Ceremony, subjecting them to interviews with Ryan Seacrest and airing medal events after a "Lockup" marathon on MSNBC. Some knitters sitting in front of the TV making a scarf that nobody's ever going to wear hardly seems like a threat to the Olympic movement. And, I don't know; sweater triathlon sounds much more entertaining and difficult than a number of Olympic sports, some of which rhyme with "jiving."
Following the maelstrom it caused on various social networks (tip: knitters like Facebook), the USOC issued a quick apology.
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.
The concerns about copyright infringement are fine. The cease and desist letter would have been justified. And I'm sure a number of knitters would have still gotten their mittens in a bunch even if that dig hadn't been taken. But the USOC should be above subtle digs at entire communities. Leave that for bloggers.
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