I was surprised this week to find out that some people have decided to ignore the rules set on the fun game of Ravelympics (Knitting Olympics). There aren't many rules...just pick a project that is challenging to you, start knitting when the Olympics start, and stop knitting when the Olympic flame goes out. See if you finish.
A knitting team captain posted that someone on her team had started way early on a sweater and was posting photos of completed portions of the sweater. I commented that starting early is effectively cheating. (Since stats are being kept on who meets the challenge of completing their project during the Games, and there is a Team Scorecard which presumably will show which team had the most success.)
Unfortunately for me, I'm captain of one team and co-captain of a second team, which just means making sure to stay abreast of all the information that's been evolving about...rules and procedures in order to update my teams. And keeping team rosters up to date. That's how I learned about people starting early. Too bad for me, I'd rather have been in blissful ignorance.
Next someone posted a link to the Teams Scorecard, and when I went there, there were 28 completed projects listed, before the Ravelympics even started. I simply made a statement about that fact on the Captains thread.
To my surprise, these comments resulted in me being insulted and attacked by the other captains. I was told to mind my own business, accused of being "fixated", called a "drama llama", told to go drink alcohol, and cyber-stalked to other threads and sent nasty personal messages. The person cyber-stalking me was instructing me on what to say online so that I would not appear "fixated". I ask: who is fixated...me, or the person stalking me in CyberLand?
It was also put forth that the Team Scorecard issue was just a computer glitch. But in literally two minutes, I clicked on two pages on the Scorecard and found two items listed as finished before the starting time...with photos of the completed items. That's not a glitch. One is an Afghan (that's pretty large and time consuming to make) and another, a colorwork sweater (also time consuming).
It surprised me a little that people would cheat at a fun, voluntary game. It surprised me more that I would get attacked merely for commenting on cheating. The vociferousness was way out of proportion and hurtful.
Is it any surprise that there's cheating in athletic sports? Or that it's tolerated?
Synchronicity...I happened upon an Yahoo news article tonight about USA's Track Leader Doug Logan who sends a strong message to cheaters: "GET OUT!" The article quoted text from Doug's blog, here: http://www.usatf.org/about/leadership/ShinSplintsBlog/
Now cheating at knitting is nowhere near the importance of doping in sports. But still I wonder...if you'd cheat at something as trivial as knitting, what kind of character do you have? And, if you'd attack someone for simply saying "let's follow our game's rules", what does that say about integrity? If you can't have integrity about the small things, will you have integrity about the big things? And should there even be a difference?
Here's what Doug had to say:
Why I hate drugs and drug cheats, and why I won't shut up about it - not even with the Olympic Games at our doorstep. Now, some of you are probably saying to yourselves: "Would he just shut his yapper already? We've almost 4 whole weeks of him ranting and raving!", while others have been saying, "Thank goodness he's diving in head-first." You've seen my battle-cry against cheaters, and there is more to come. But I have yet to fully explain to the general public "the why" behind my vehemence on the topic.
I do it because if our sport doesn't set a course of brazen, vocal intolerance toward drugs, the viability of track and field on a go-forward basis is compromised. Or, as I like to say: if unchecked, drugs threaten to choke the life out of the sport. So I have a moral obligation to do my best to beat drugs to the punch and metaphorically choke the life out of drugs, drug cheats and their enablers. This course of action is needed from both an ethical and a business standpoint.
The budget of USATF is over $16 million, and it should be triple that figure. Congress and blue-chip sponsors have acknowledged that the organization has worked to eradicate drugs and that it has had a testing system in place for more than 20 years. There is no argument that Olympic sport has the most sophisticated anti-doping system on the planet. But I believe that far more sponsors would be more enthusiastic about us and our athletes if they got the sense that there is moral indignation and a commitment to really manhandle drugs to get them out of the sport. I am nothing if not indignant about drug use, and I don't plan to be quiet about it.
I do it because there are too many stories like the one related to me this past weekend by one of our elite athletes in Hershey, PA. This colleague of ours was training with one of the nine-year-old finalists for the Hershey North American Track and Field Championship. During a training run, this nine year old asked our athlete about steroids and said she heard that they would make her stronger. Nine years old!
I come from outside the world of track and field, which means that the day before I took this job, I had no friends ... and no enemies. I saw track as the general public saw it, not as 'track insiders' saw it. The insider/outsider viewpoints about where the sport is and what it needs can be vastly different. I feel the outsider angle is the one we most need.
Addressing drugs in genteel, coddling or sterile terms isn't going to get the job done. If some people are offended by that, or tired of hearing about it, or think that now "isn't the right time" for it, so be it. Here's the deal: If you use drugs, encourage others to use them or even turn the other way as others use them, we don't want you in our sport. I will continue on a high-profile, low-political correctness cleaning of our own house and moving forward. Substantive moves will enable us to shake off the past and move ahead, and will enable our athletes to get the attention, fame, glory, honor and money they deserve. The idea is that Tyson Gay, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards, Lauryn Williams, Jeremy Wariner, Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson and Brad Walker one day will be happy about the stance I took on drugs right out of the gate, because it will benefit them in the long run.
What we will find as we move forward is a robust opportunity to make domestic track and field the world-class, blue-chip business it should be. We should aspire to excellence of performance under the exacting rules of fair play. And if you're not aspiring to do that without drugs, I've got two words for you: