Branding Bullsh*t

I’m very proud of my father’s achievements. He competed for Australia in the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal, Canada. Then in 2000 he ran in the torch relay for the Sydney games. I have vague recollections of my Dad being on the telly (I was only 3 at the time) and the general excitement of those games.

As a child I also recall that most Olympic years I would be asked by whatever school I was at to bring in memorabilia for show and tell. It was part of the excitement, my way of being a part of it and a way to include others who perhaps would never get any closer than some kid at their school who had an official uniform. At school we would do all sorts of projects around the Olympics, covering history and sport and geography – it really was a great opportunity from an educational and community perspective. I even took Dad’s torch to the office in 2000 and caused much excitement there too 🙂

But it appears that the powers that govern the games have gone nuts this year. We’ve got knitters being told that they are not allowed to give gifts to competitors because it might infringe upon paid sponsors and now I see that a craft group has received a lawyers letter to tell them to cease using a word derived from their own name combined with the word Olympics to run a bit of a fun challenge. They’ve also been told that any patterns or people’s PROJECTS that show any of the imagery have to be removed.

For anyone who is a member of Ravelry, the details are here including the lawyer’s letter.

In particular the letter includes the following:

The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes. The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. 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.

This is beyond ludicrous. While I understand that the US government has decided to grant the US Olympic Committee an exclusive right to the trademark, I’m not quite so sure that they had the right to do that in the first place. I totally disagree with the statements above. In my experience, the fact that people can become involved no matter how likely they are to compete themselves gets them excited and helps them to participate and actually enhances the games. To come down heavy handed on people having fun and taking part in this event in their own, harmless way goes completely against the ideals that the lawyers point out.

If you take this to the next level, it is obvious that primary schools will nolonger be able to hold their own mini Olympic sports days, nor will communities be able to have Olympic street parties or anything like that. It is commercialism gone mad – worse than Christmas! Next they’ll be wanting to rename Mt Olympus. I for one will be boycotting any Olympic merchandise and any company that is supporting the games. If we all did that we’d make a dent, make them nolonger commercially attractive and thus bring them back to the people, where they belong!

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