Of Clothing and Controversies…

July 16, 2012

OLYMPIC CLOTHING VS OLYMPIC FUNDING

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I’ve been neglectful of writing on the blog for the last year. Too busy trying to get my own house in order, and as Lori at Boots and Blades (see link to the right) does an excellent job of keeping up with all the short track news there, the blog was often redundant anyway.

And then there are times like these. Sometimes the planets align and events transpire that get the wheels of contemplation going, and I find I really have a lot to say…even if it does more often than not just fly off into the ether. Blogs are the perfect medium for such mental gymnastics, where there is more space to spill out what’s on ones mind than in a ‘tweet’.
So be prepared, this post may get a bit long winded…with a couple more undoubtedly equally long winded posts to follow soon thereafter. I’ve got some ground to cover and a few bones to pick. Starting with:
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U. S. Olympic uniforms made in China has Congress steamed
http://www.nj.com/olympics/index.ssf/2012/07/olympic_uniforms_made_in_china.html

This product image released by Ralph Lauren shows U.S. Olympic athletes (from left) swimmer Ryan Lochte, decathlete Bryan Clay, rower Giuseppe Lanzone and soccer player Heather Mitts modeling the the official Team USA Opening Ceremony Parade Uniform. Republicans and Democrats railed Thursday about the U.S. Olympic Committee’s decision to dress the U.S. team in Chinese manufactured berets, blazers and pants while the American textile industry struggles economically with many U.S. workers desperate for jobs. / Associated Press photo/Ralph Lauren/file

This week, our members of Congress are all up in arms and aghast over the realization that our Olympic Athletes will be trotting around London in uniforms manufactured not in the good Ol’ U.S. of A, but in our own personal little sweat shop known as the People’s Republic of China.

Now is this really new information that hasn’t been completely obvious to anyone over the age of three for a few decades now? Seriously???

Oh, wait. We’re talking about our government here. You know, those guys (and gals) so sequestered in their own little world of super PACs, insider trading and payoffs, that apparently what is going on in this country to 99% of their constituents comes as a complete and utter shock.

Excuse me while I quote your average teenager when I say: “Well, Duh.”

Where the hell have they been for the last few decades? Almost all of our manufacturing is overseas. Has been for awhile now. Our corporations sent them there. Our government paved the way for them to do it. And they say now that they didn’t know??? With our economy in the toilet and double digit unemployment for a good portion of the new millennium, now they’re surprised? Meh.

Not surprisingly, the general public has been equally outraged about the uniform flap, although I will say they have all missed the point- and the bigger issue entirely.

From the posts I’ve been reading on Facebook and the Boots & Blades Forum, this story has really hit a nerve with the Olympic sport of Short Track Speed Skating community and fans, with ensuing outrage of a totally different order. All of the posts have echoed my own sentiments, which evened out to:

THE TOP TEN REASONS OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE CLUELESS…

1) Congress- Our gov’t/congress/taxes don’t support this country’s Olympic athletes financially (for the Olympic Games or their years of training to get there) so you abdicate all rights to snivel about their uniforms, foreign made or otherwise…
Cough up some coin to support them and then we’ll talk.

2) Congress! – You’re the ones who not only gave their blessing, but in many instances orchestrated all those ‘Made in the USA’ clothing labels AND jobs going overseas.

3) Congress!!! – It’s called ‘Capitalism’! But now that it’s our athletes clothed in its results at the Olympic Games, you cry foul on poor Ralph? (Berets Ralph? Really??? The clothes are still butt ass ugly, but that’s a separate issue…) Hey, it’s a business. Ralph does it for PROFIT. You know, that stuff you elected officials feel is the end all, be all…

4) At least Ol’ Ralphy bothered to support our Olympic Team, which is a lot more than can be said for a lot of American Companies. Congress complains about Ralph Lauren for doing what EVERY OTHER CLOTHING MANUFACTURER in the U.S. has been doing for decades. Get over it…or change it.

5) Congress equally balks at the USOC for wooing sponsorships from companies outside of the U.S.
Well, if American companies stepped up and opened their fat wallets after making all those profits from some overseas 5 year old working for a buck fifty a day, the USOC wouldn’t need to look outside of the States for sponsorship. The moola has got to come from somewhere and we can obviously rule out our government, American companies, members of Congress or CEO’s donating a portion of their mega million dollar bonus to the athletes cause.
In fact, when our government does get involved, athletes end up being little more than political pawns to make a completely gutless political statement. (Yeah, I’m looking at YOU Jimmy Carter…and No, I’ve never forgiven you for it. Nor do I feel you had the right to do it in the first place.)

6) Congress! – Before you do any more whining about the Olympic uniforms, I’ve got two words for you. Stupak Scholarship.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/02/obama-budget-cuts-stupak-schol.html

Yeah, that’s the one tiny little thing this country was willing to do for its Olympic athletes and future Olympians and hopefuls. A measly little million dollar scholarship program so they could get an education while competing and representing our country against athletes from other countries that had the full support and backing from their homeland.

Obama killed it. To be fair, Bush had tried to croak the program every year he was in office, Obama is just the one who succeeded. I didn’t hear Congress putting up too much of a fight over its demise. I guess it was much more important to cut that little million dollar program so there would be more towards the billions to bail out the rich banksters. I’ve met both Olympic hopefuls and Bankers. The former are much more honest and deserving.

7) Which leads me to ask this question. Who is the completely clueless government wonk who said this?:

“Olympic athletes [and hopefuls] receive generous support from a variety of sources.”

http://mediamatters.org/research/2010/02/03/fox-nations-claim-that-obama-cut-program-to-get/159987
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Congress – Are you high? Most elite athletes, especially in the less mainstream sports are living below the poverty line, many on food stamps. And how would you know anyway? OUR GOVERNMENT DOESN’T FUND THEM! This completely out of touch with reality mentality by both our elected officials AND the general public not only leads to a lot of financial hardship but also the oft heard phrase proffered to elite level athletes when they’re seeking desperately needed sponsorship- “So, you’re all set, then?” (See link below on this subject)

No, they’re not. Not by a long shot.

8) Congress!!!!! Why is it a person or company that busts its behind is deserving of the fruits of their labors- touted as ‘the American Way’, but when it comes to the athletes themselves, the fruits of their labors are entitled to everyone else BUT them? As one athlete put it:

“The ‘Olympic Dream’ frankly isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You aren’t an individual, you are a “medal color” and the money people can make from that. It’s really sad to come to that realization.”

There are a LOT of people making money off the Olympics – or more accurately, the athletes. Sadly, for the most part, the athletes themselves aren’t one of them.

9) I have to thank Lori at Boots and Blades for this little gem she posted today.

30 Stupid Things The Government Is Spending Money On

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/30-stupid-things-the-governemnt-is-spending-money-on

I’m dumbfounded over this one. Truly. Our lawmakers are willing to pay for foreigners outside our country to get masters degrees? But they cut scholarship funding to our own Olympic Athletes???
Are they freaking kidding me???

10) Congress! -Gee, Hypocrisy much? Me thinks thou dost protest too much…
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Which leads me right back to:

…”So, You’re All Set, Right?”…

What transpired last week was completely in sync with some points I wanted to comment on after reading Eva Rodansky’s book, ‘Winter of Discontent – An athlete’s experience of speed skating in America’.
This is EXACTLY the sort of thing she’s talking about. The difficulty of trying to train as an elite athlete while representing a country that does little to support its own Olympic athletes and hopefuls, and then adding insult to injury, works diligently to promote the general impression that if you ARE an elite athlete, then financially “So, You’re all set, right?”…

From what I’ve seen as a mere fan, nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, mention this book, and the room becomes suddenly hushed, and all concerned immediately exhibit the sort of extreme angst, silence, nervousness and discomfort one would normally expect from a drug runner being patted down by a DEA agent that is a mere inches away from discovering the illegal stash in their underwear. Apparently many would just like to make the book ‘go away’ and pretend it doesn’t exit.

But hey,
A) This is America, not 1960’s Russia. So I can read – and talk about – what I like Comrade, thank you very much. And:
B) It’s my blog, so my rules. If it makes any fan or the general public of speedskating or the Olympics stop and think even half as much as it did for me, then it’s a book well worth reading. I’ll quote my own saying. “I have no patience with ignorance, it’s a 100% curable disease.”

Eva’s anger is palpable, and she certainly pulls no punches – on anyone. I personally like that in a person. Give it to me straight up, no chaser.
Her take on the general public’s (and obviously here, congress persons) perceptions on how our Olympic athletes are funded- or complete lack thereof – is spot on in my opinion.

You can download an e-version at either of these sites. (approx. $5)
Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/winter-of-discontent-eva-rodansky/1109654639?ean=294001427532

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Discontent-athletes-experience-ebook/dp/B007N6CGG0

I invite not only fans, but our elected officials to read up on this important subject. I encourage those who care about the Olympics in general, and short track speed skaters specifically to leave their own thoughts either here, on the Boots and Blades Forum and with your elected officials.
I fully intend to send the law makers in the links below this blog post…and any comments it generates.

So, are we all ready to rumble?
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To contact the specific outraged lawmakers in the article:
Senator Harry Reid:
http://www.reid.senate.gov/

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
http://www.pelosi.house.gov/

Speaker of the House, John Boehner
http://www.speaker.gov/

Congressmen Steve Israel
http://israel.house.gov/

Sen. Sherrod Brown
http://www.brown.senate.gov/

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand,
http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/

Sen. Bernie Sanders
http://www.sanders.senate.gov/

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BMW, USOC make 6-year sponsorship deal official

July 27, 2010

By RACHEL COHEN, AP Sports Writer
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/07/26/sports/s100251D90.DTL&type=health
Monday, July 26, 2010
(07-26) 12:01 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) —

A German automaker sponsoring American athletes? BMW and U.S. Olympic Committee officials see nothing contradictory about that in this global economy.

The two organizations made their six-year deal official Monday at a news conference at a BMW dealership in Manhattan. A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press in May that it’s worth about $24 million.

BMW will be the first foreign carmaker to sponsor the USOC and will fill a void left when General Motors decided not to renew its deal following the 2008 Olympics.

“All of our research shows that our fans really respect Olympic sponsors, because they know that’s the way we bring the team to the games,” USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird said.

BMW will also work with the American governing bodies for four sports: track and field, swimming, speedskating, and bobsled and skeleton. Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who noted he’s a BMW owner, was on hand for the announcement.

“Part of our company’s ethos is to really become part of the culture” of countries where it sells cars, said Jack Pitney, vice president of marketing for BMW of North America.

BMW plans to use its engineers to help the USOC improve technology for its athletes, such as designing helmets that are more aerodynamic. It will also aid the USOC with fundraising.

BMW will be the USOC’s “official mobility partner,” a purposely broad term that ensures the company will be the sole sponsor for multiple forms of transportation, including those that haven’t even been invented yet.

The German automaker has supported American athletes before as a sponsor of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The new deal will run through the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed to this report

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/07/26/sports/s100251D90.DTL&type=health#ixzz0uonQAER2


USOC unveils plan for “America Supports Team USA” initiative

May 31, 2010

Nicole Saunches USOC
05/28/2010

Click on the logo to go directly to the original article
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The 2010 campaign is set to commence on May 31 and run through July 31

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is preparing to launch its second year of the “America Supports Team USA” initiative, which capitalizes on the patriotic period between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and provides Americans with opportunities to show their national pride and be part of the Olympic mission. The program will run Monday, May 31, through Saturday, July 31.

The campaign, which incorporates the tagline “Together We Win,” celebrates patriotism and raises money to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls. By further emphasizing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams’ connection with USA around the most patriotic time of the year, the initiative allows the USOC to continue to bring programming to communities throughout the U.S. and support more Americans who want to pursue Olympic and Paralympic dreams. And new this year, people who visit http://www.teamusa.org will have the option to make a donation directly to a National Governing Body of choice (i.e. USA Wrestling), the USOC or U.S. Paralympics.

“As an Olympian who represented Team USA in Beijing, I would like to ask each and every American to make a donation to support Team USA,” said Olympian Cullen Jones (swimming). “The financial support and athlete programs provided to Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls are a critical component of Team USA’s success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

National Governing Bodies (NGBs) will also be heavily involved. “America Supports Team USA” will be featured at events such as: USA Wrestling’s World Team Trials, World League Volleyball matches, USA Track & Field’s Junior and Senior Track & Field Championships and Nike Prefontaine Classic, USA Field Hockey’s Women’s National Championships, USA Badminton’s US Open and Junior Nationals, and USA Taekwondo’s Junior and Senior Nationals. The initiative will also be supported in NGB publications and on their websites.

Major League Baseball teams have also supported the campaign. Several teams will run the “America Supports Team USA” public service announcement (PSA) at ballparks around the nation, and Olympians and Paralympians will throw out ceremonial first pitches at several ballparks in June and July.

Olympians and Paralympians featured in the PSAs and print advertisements include: Natalie Coughlin (swimming), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (ice dancing), Bill Demong (nordic combined), April Holmes (Paralympic track & field), Lisa Leslie (basketball), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Marlon Shirley (Paralympic track & field), Apolo Anton Ohno (short track speedskating.), Lindsey Vonn (alpine skiing) and Seth Wescott (snowboarding).

“Like many non-profit organizations, fundraising is a critical element of our success,” said USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun. “The monies raised during this campaign will directly impact America’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls.”

How Can Americans Help?

There are a number of direct ways that fans can show their ongoing support for Team USA:

* Log on to http://www.teamusa.org and make a donation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics or to a National Governing Body such as USA Wrestling.

* Text USA to 90999 to make a $10 donation

* Donate HHonors points or United Mileage Plus Miles

Where Does The Money Go?

Approximately 80 percent of the USOC’s operating budget goes directly to Athlete Support Programs. Below is an outline of some of the Athlete Support Programs offered by the USOC along with a brief description of each program:

Direct Athlete Support
Athletes who have demonstrated competitive excellence in important international competitions may be awarded Direct Athlete Support dollars, which includes tuition grants. The USOC Sport Performance Team works closely with the NGBs to determine how these dollars are allocated.

NGB Support Programs
The USOC aids NGBs by supporting services such as investing in state-of-the-art technology, specialized coaching and providing additional training camps and competitions.

Operation Gold
Operation Gold Awards are designed to reward athletes for top place finishes in a sport’s most competitive international competition of the year. The award amount varies from $1,000 – $25,000 depending on the year, the athlete’s finish at the Operation Gold competition and whether the athlete competes in a sport/discipline/event on the Olympic or Paralympic Games program or on the Pan American Games program. Additionally, in non-Olympic and Paralympic years, athletes who qualify for more than one award automatically receive the higher award. At the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes are paid Operation Gold for multiple medal performances.

Elite Athlete Health Insurance (EAHI)
Each NGB receives, from the USOC, EAHI slots to distribute to elite athletes. Distribution of these EAHI slots is based on criteria that have been developed by the NGB and approved by the USOC.

Tuition Grants
Tuition grants are intended to help defray a portion of an athlete’s tuition costs, and in doing so, encourage athletes to further their formal education in preparation for lifelong career goals. Grant amounts range from less than $500 to a maximum of $5,000 depending on athlete performance history and availability of funds for the grant. Approximately $70,000 is dedicated to this program annually.

Partnership Support Makes It Possible

Team USA’s corporate sponsor family plays an integral role in each and every day of an Olympian, Paralympian and hopeful’s training. Through the ”America Supports Team USA” initiative, Team USA partners have created unique opportunities for activation beyond the 17 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hilton Worldwide will promote the initiative with a HHonors Points Donation Program. HHonors points may be donated in increments of 10,000. Each 10,000 HHonors points donation equals a US$25 donation. One hundred percent the donations collected will go directly to support the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

United Airlines will support the initiative by promoting their Charity Miles program in Hemispheres Magazine and during in-flight programming. During the month of June United Mileage Plus members will be encouraged to donate their miles to Team USA.

24 Hour Fitness will raise awareness about the campaign posting “America Supports Team USA” web banners on the company’s website, http://www.24HourFitness.com.

For more information on the “America Supports Team USA initiative,” please go to http://www.teamusa.org

About the U.S. Olympic Committee

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the sole entity in the United States whose mission involves training, entering and underwriting the full expenses for the U.S. teams in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games. In addition to being the steward of the U.S. Olympic Movement, the USOC is the moving force for support of sports in the United States that are on the program of the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games.

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The initiative won’t launch until Monday, so I don’t see the Team USA donate button yet, but here is teamusa.org’s link to the website:

http://www.teamusa.org/


Register at Team USA.org!

February 12, 2010

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I received this press release, and of course, I will do my part to get the word out!

“Anyone who registers on Teamusa.org will have access to the latest info and will receive exclusive updates throughout the games. Information includes some very cool Team USA widgets and banners into this social media news release here:”

Sign up here:
http://teamusanews.org

Main Website:
http://www.teamusa.org/

Lots of videos on the site. Here’s the Long Track’s Press Conference (OK, Where’s that Short Track video???! *tapping foot, tapping foot…*)

I couldn’t get this video to imbed in the blog (uncle, I give!), so click the link below to go directly to the site. (Hopefully that short track news conference video will be showing up soon. …or are the snippets we’ve seen all there is?)

http://www.teamusa.org/video
The Long Track Speedskating Press Conference was held on February 7, 2010. Head coaches Ryan Shimabukuro and Derek Parra, Assistant Coach Mike Kooreman, Chad Hedrick, and Trevor Marsicano were interviewed.

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Join the Team USA.org fanpage on Facebook too:
http://www.facebook.com/USOlympicTeam


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