We live in a jaded society. It takes effort, hope, and optimism to believe in any kind of ideal anymore. The world is not a nice place. Life is unfair. People can not be depended on.
Every two years I make the effort to sit in front of the TV with hope and optimism, dedicated to believing that the Olympics still mean something. That even though commercialism is rampant, even though athletes dope, even though some countries value medals more than the health and happiness of their children, that the ideal behind the Olympics is still real. The dream is still there. I choose to believe that the Olympics are a celebration, not of brute strength and mere athleticism, but of international cooperation, of mutual respect, of an acknowledgement that we all have potential within us, and of what perseverance, hard work, and natural talent can come together to achieve. I choose to believe that the Olympics are a time when we can put away the ugly side of patriotism, the association with blood and war and death, and be proud not only to be an American, but to be a citizen of the world, standing beside those who are different, and celebrating them for it. I believe the Olympics are a thing of beauty.
I choose to believe this, even though everything in this world has its dark side. I choose to watch the Olympics every two years with the rapidly beating heart and wide-eyed excitement of the child I used to be, because so many of the things I loved have fallen to age and cynicism, and I make the choice to look with the eyes of hope and idealism, to believe that the true spirit of the Olympics is untarnished and possible in this world. I cling to it in election years especially, when everything is about worry and cynicsm and conflict.
I believe that we all watch the Olympics with the dream inside of us, the feeling, of "what if I could be there?" "what if I could do that?" I believe that the Olympics can inspire greatness, not only in large, life-altering, I'm-going-to-train-for-my-whole-life ways, but also in small ways. I believe that there is value in challenging yourself and choosing to excel, no matter what the arena.
I believe the Ravelympics were born of that desire, the desire to be challenged and to be part, even for just a few weeks, of something bigger than we are. We come together as an international nation. The knitters of the Ravelympics are global. We take up the Olympic banner and cheer, and it is a pure and beautiful thing, because it is born out of love and enthusiasm, not out of a desire for gain or even a spirit of competition. The knitters of the Ravelympics compete only against themselves and their own expectations. I say that we are a purer representation of the Olympic spirit than the Olympics will ever be, because in the Olympics, someone has to lose. But this is what the US Olympic Committee believes:
"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
I believe that one of the greatest callings of an Olympic athletes is to inspire others to greatness. I believe that no one gets to define what greatness is for me. And I believe that you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to be worthy of respect. After all, "The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass
culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony."
Members of Team USA, should any of you happen upon this humble knitting blog, know that these people are speaking for you. What I would like to know is, do they represent you?
I will not be boycotting the games. When the time comes, I will sit in front of my television, I will take up my knitting, and I will choose, once again, to believe. But it's going to be just a little bit harder this year.