The United States Olympic Committee recently sent a “cease and desist” letter to a knitting website named ravelry.com who wanted to have a knitting contest during the Summer Games. From the general counsel’s letter (try not to laugh all at once):
“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among anothers, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” said the U.S.O.C.’s letter to Casey Forbes, co-founder of the knitting Web site Ravelry.com. “In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”
Are they kidding me? The knitters, all amateurs presumably, are “denigrat[ing] the true nature of the Olympic Games”? Disrespectful to the athletes? Really? I would say to the general counsel and the USOC that the knitters cannot even begin to denigrate the Games or fail to respect the athletes more than the USOC/IOC have with all the professional athletes and commercialization of the Games! Dream Team 1992? Tennis? Hockey? Having all these pro athletes in the Olympics is what is denigrating the Games. The smaller nations cannot pretend to compete and amateurs cannot compete in those sports – they do not even get to try out for basketball! Which leads me to…
This article about the Saudi team that is apparently reluctant to have women athletes (I agree women should be included on the team although I question if the male athletes ought to take it on the chin for their government’s choices) but the writer cited this provision of something with the ugly Agenda 21 sound (We could have a poll: Uglier word: Fundraise or Olympism?) of “Fundamental Principles of Olympism”:
”The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit …”
Here it is (on page ten)!
So tell me, IOC, how do you square professional athletes with this clause? How is this not discrimination against amateurs who may never again compete internationally? How is the use of professionals and its concomitant favoring of larger nations not sports imperialism? How is this consistent with this clause of the Fundamental Principles:
The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity. (emphasis added)
How is beating down small and poor nations by teams of professionals when the other nations cannot match up preserving human dignity or the dignity of nations? To ask the question is to answer it. That is why even though the men’s basketball team night say USA on their jerseys they aren’t my team. Even though I admire Serena Williams she does not represent me. Until the IOC gets it right or I am promoted to glory, I’ll continue this lonely quest; for you see I love the Olympics – the best amateur athletes, many who as the NCAA puts it, will turn pro in something else, play for personal and national honor. I think the ratings for the Games would actually increase if they returned to that sort of idealism. Stand up for what’s right. No money for the IOC/USOC! Give the money to your favorite sport – fencing or curling for example, instead. Or to a local amateur athlete that has worked hard to make the US team!