For years, the Olympics has been a gathering of people all around the world, celebrating their crafts in the sports community through friendly competition. It dates back to ancient Greece and the various areas in Greece, but now is a way of globally extending the hand of friendship from country to country. Numerous sports are places for friendly competition in both the summer and winter Olympic games and the world rallies to support their countries as everyone competes. It is a place for friendship, celebration, and acknowledging the work that people put into their craft.
However, as time goes on, it feels as though the Olympic Committee is forgetting what the Olympics is supposed to be about.
Through out the internet are various locations in which people from around the world come together and interact with each other. Most notably are the social networks of Facebook and MySpace. However, various other social networks have cropped up as well. There are networks for those the Ren Faire community, Sports communities, crafting communities, media groups, etc. You name it, it exists. Including an ever popular social network known as Ravelry.
Ravelry is an online community for those who knit and crochet. It is a place for people to come together and organize their stash in an easy to understand way. It gives a place to celebrate finished projects and keep track of ongoing projects. It allows members to look up patterns in their vast library of patterns and start the projects themselves, even providing a way to pay for the pattern if it is one that needs to be bought (and ravelry does not make money off the sale, it goes directly to the pattern owner). On top of this, there are numerous forums and groups in which people can interact with each other. They can share questions and tips about their craft or talk everyday life and just get to know each other.
You may have noticed that even I have linked to the site on my page here. I am a huge fan of the community. I am a member of 8 groups on the site. I use it to keep track of the 43 skeins of yarn I have, the current projects I am working on, and to find patterns for new projects. It has encouraged me to better my skills in my craft and provided me with a great supportive community as well.
Every two years, during the Olympic games, Ravelry holds the Ravelympics. It is a time when the knitters of this community (from around the world) gather together and knit as a group to celebrate our craft and knit. There are even some prizes for those that start and complete projects during the games. All the while watching the actual Olympics and celebrating the crafts of those competing in the games.
Actual Olympics – People from around the world coming together to celebrate their craft (in this case, athleticism and sports) through friendly competition.
Ravelympics – People from around the world coming together to celebrate their craft (in this case, knitting and crocheting) through friendly competition.
They sound pretty much the same to me and both seem to celebrate the spirit of what the Olympics actually are. Not to mention, the number of people on the site who actually do crafts related to the actual Olympic games in honor of their competing country or favorite sport or what have you.
Despite their similarities and despite how this crafting community has decided to celebrate the Olympics, the USOC has sent Ravelry a cease and desist order. In their letter to the site owners, they claim that “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.”
How does knitting a project fail to recognize or appreciate the hard work of the athlete?
I am an athlete. I have my black belt in Tang Soo Do. I am working on becoming a stronger runner and fighter. I shoot archery on a regular basis. I ski. I snowboard. I know just how much work goes into sports and just how much dedication is needed. I know for a fact that my skills are no where near Olympic worthy, but I never have once doubted the amount of work that Olympians put into their craft and I am always impressed by the work they do.
That being said, I am also a knitter, a sewer, and an amateur costumer. I have made numerous knitting projects (of which, 23 have been posted to Ravelry since I became a member just over a year ago). I have made many sewing projects, including full Renaissance outfits and corsets. I am regularly helping friends design and create costumes. Again, while I am far from the best, I know how much work goes into my craft and am constantly impressed by the works of those who craft for a living.
If anything knowing the meticulous work that I put into both my sports gives me the determination to not give up on my crafting as well as the persevearance to know that sometimes good things take a long time to develop. The work I put into my crafting reminds me that every little detail counts and something as simple as the angle of my block in a martial arts form could mean the difference between winning or losing in my division.
So, how does my knitting during the Olympics (especially if I chose to knit something that is Olympic themed) disrespect the athletes and fails to recognize their hard work? If anything, my knowledge of crafting has given me a stronger appreciation for the dedication of the Olympians that are competing and the future Olympians who are training for their chance at the gold medal.
It seems to me that the USOC has lost all site on what the Olympic games mean. This petty act has definitely cause the USOC to lose any ounce of respect that I may have had for them, because that is all their actions show: Petty, Egotistical, Elitest, and Judgemental people who are not respectful of the work of any craft other than sports. Seems to me that those who run the Olympics need a crash course in what it means to be an Olympian.