US Olympic Committee says sorry to knitters whom it claimed "denigrated" the games

The US Olympic Committee has apologized for describing the knitters' Ravelympics as "denigrating" to real athletes. Ravelympics are an activity on Ravelry, a community for knitters, in which members compete to complete knitting projects while watching Olympic events, producing hybrids like the "afghan marathon" and "scarf hockey." The Olympic Committee, worried that they will have a hard time raising millions for giant, evil companies like Dow Chemicals if knitters are allowed to share patterns that include the Olympic rings, sent a grossly insulting legal threat to the knitters of Ravelry:

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.

After a lot of hue and cry, the USOC said sorry, and suggested that knitters could give away the stuff they make to the USOC.

Jun 21 Statement from USOC Spokesperson Patrick Sandusky (Thanks, Gladys!)


  1. “tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games” Well that’s kind of true. Making something for yourself goes against the commercialism of today’s Olympics.

    I suppose they’d rather you just lounged on the couch in awe of all the amazing feats of strength and endurance, sipping a Coke through a Dow Plastics straw.

    Can’t believe they suggested the knitting be given away at the end of it all.

  2. Ha, that’s rich, coming from a member of the most corrupt, spectacularly recuperated example of competition that I can immediately think of.
    Plus, knitting isn’t easy.  

      1. If it were held in the same place every time, that place would actually have a chance of seeing all the possible benefits that the IOC promises* every bidder every Olympics. 

        It would also potentially uncorrupt the IOC by several orders of magnitude since they would be limited to forcing only potential sponsors to “go the extra mile” to win support from IOC members.

        *promise non-binding and what we really mean is fuck your people, local political idiot, sincerely, IOC

          1. Precisely, not only would the Olympics then fail to harm cities around the world, but it’s effect on Greece would be mitigated by a political culture savvy to the ways and means of the IOC. Good thinking.

  3. Pardon me for thinking that a “standard cease and desist” letter sent to a group of knitters who aren’t engaged in any sort of commercial activity does more to denigrate the nature of the Olympic Games than having a group knitting activity and calling it “the Ravelympics”.

    Asking the knitters to send some of their work would have been a nice thing to do if it weren’t such an obvious attempt on the committee’s part to walk back their stupidity.

  4. the true nature of the Olympic Games

    Advertising, marketing, a cash cow for corrupt committee members,  a way to enrich local politicians and their cronies at taxpayer expense?

    Whenever I think of the Olympics now, I think of our city’s bid for them and how this guy ended up dead, face first in the river downtown…..

    1.  Oh, that was just a coincidence.  A total, one-in-a-million coincidence.  Mike Madigan told me so!

  5. Note that the letter begins: “As a follow-up to our previous statement on this subject, we would again like to apologize” – that is, the Olympic committee is quite happy to piss off all of London without apology, but knitters are such a powerful lobby group, they get *two* apologies within a day.

    Someone yarn-bombed their HQ, too, though I can’t find pics of it :)

    Cool thing? It wasn’t even a legal C&D letter, apparently. They got some  kid who’d not even graduated law school to sign it: apparently that’s very much Not Allowed.

    So, some lawyers got a bit miffed about this, because, working for more salubrious companies, they have to sign all their paperwork themselves, and not get some underling to do it. So, they reported this to the bar.

    Will be interesting to see how this all plays out :)

  6. So, the USOC thought it was a good idea to piss off two million people around the world who, if left alone, would have enjoyed a noncommercial, friendly event which encouraged them to watch lots of the Olympics on TV?  If I were a USOC sponsor I’d be really mad at the USOC right now.  The only thing their C&D is doing is reducing viewership.  It’s the USOC that is damaging the brand.

    Instead of sending a C&D, the USOC ought to be paying Ravelry for engaging in such effective promotion of Olympic viewership.  Perhaps they could consider condoning Ravelry’s ongoing use of the Ravelympics name as partial acknowledgement of the work Ravelry does to put eyeballs in front of the ads broadcast by USOC sponsors.

  7. They really have to destroy the good will and integrity of The Olympics, in order to protect the Olympic values of good will and integrity. (They = the Olympics Officials, not ravelry-ers.)

  8. So where is the line that one must obey to not rouse the ire of the mighty Olympics?  Clearly adding “-lympics’ to something is verboten.  Can I perhaps still use “pics” in some way?  What about “s”?  Can I at least pluralize word?  (“Word” not pluralized to avoid multiple legal problem.)

  9. The sophistry is breathtaking.  It’s not their corporate sponsors they’re worried about, no. . . it’s the dignity of the athletes who will be deeply offended that gets their litigation up.

    Cue the violins. . .

    1. It reminds me of the whole saga with the recording companies. Unfit, uncreative businessmen screwing over the people who work for them, then bleating that those who enjoy what they do are actually destroying the foundations of the industry.

    1.  If this had been about kittens, the internet would have swallowed the USOC whole already.

      1. Despite a rigorous new testing regime, many Olympic athletes continue to be dogged by rumors of kitten huffing. 

  10. Ravelers, keep your work or swap it amongst yourselves.  If the USOC wants some custom knit stuff, they need to commission it and pay way too much for it.  I think $100,000 for a scarf would be fair.

    Edit: full disclosure – I’m one of the 2 million Ravelry members.

  11. The “apology” contained at least one direct lie: It stated that the C&D letter was a standard form letter. Excuse me? Since when do standard form letters contain text specifically attacking the hobby of the recipients? The USOC’s lame attempt to walk back the damage has only resulted in renewed anger. Disclaimer: I’m not a knitter. My wife is a knitter. I make stitch markers for knitting. My wife and I own a farm where we raise alpacas and make hand-spun yarn. The USOC is going to have to drive down here to rural Virginia and kiss our butts on live TV before we’ll have anything to do with the Olympics.

  12. “Ravelympics” sounds like something different.  Endurance Hula Hooping, Glowstick Gymnastics, etc.

  13. I think the USOC  needs that Carreon guy to represent them. It’s a match made in heaven.

  14. If they had an image of a bunch of sweet old grannies sitting around working on their tea cozies, they are painfully mistaken. We love and respect the grannies that are part of our community, and in addition to the grandmas, we’re now a wild mix of men, women and transgender people, old, young and middle aged, tattooed and body-mod free, students, scientists, attorneys, iron workers, and designers.  IOC, we are not to be fucked with.

    – also a member of Ravelry

    1. My apologies, i read that too quickly and imagined strange chimeric creatures with multiple bodies merged into one nightmarish knitting entity that was comprised of whole or partial grandmas, men, women, transgendered people. Then the rest of my brain caught up.

      However if I was right, I suggest you send any such members after the USOC …

  15. The apology is a non-apology.  It does not remit the insult that was contained in the original letter.  Even the second apology claims that “knitters did not perceive themselves as being disrespectful.”  Uh, no, knitters were NEVER disrespectful.

    As far as I’m concerned, I’m with the knitter boycott of the Olympic Committee’s hijinks.  This is what happens when you give an exclusive monopoly to someone through an act of Congress that goes beyond the standard IP laws.  (They get special protections beyond even trademark rules.) 

    Power corrupts.

    mloknitting on Ravelry

    1. It’s not like watching the olympics on US television is useful.  At least the CBC shows the competitions instead of an endless litany of “athlete profiles” with a tiny bit of sport (most likely ladies beach volleyball) between the sob stories. 

  16. If the sport federations are so starved for funds that they need to have a mitten sale to raise money, where does the sponsor money go? Oldsma on Ravelry and I’m going to donate my knitting to support a local program to give winter wear to kids in need, not to the USOC. Pah.

  17. What sort of legally recognized wrong is addressed by “”We believe using the name” and “tends to denigrate” and “In a sense, it is disrespectful” and “fails to recognize”?  These idiots can’t even write a proper NastyGram.

  18. And let’s assume that they had *wished* to disrespect and denigrate the Olympics? Then, in a sense, that would have been fair comment and/or satire, and the evil Olympic Committee wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on (1st Amendment rights, as diluted as they are, surely include the right to denigrate a corrupt corporate farce ?)

    Unless, of course, they’re claiming that their brand allows them to censor fair opinion? Perish the thought!

  19. Hmm. I think you’d have to try a lot harder than that to “denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games”, given how horrible it is. Corruption and insanity, all in the name of corporate sponsorship and international one-upsmanship masquerading as sportsmanship.

  20. Wait…. the USOC spokesperson’s name is “Sandusky”?   I sense a conspiracy, or something…

  21. I’d rather watch people knitting than the boring summer Olympics!

    Any city which hosts that ridiculously expensive, so called “event” is cursed with debt, and bedbugs! 

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