Who Owns “Olympics”?
I was 10 minutes away from the Redneck Olympics over the weekend (couldn’t make it, though). Sounds like about what you’d expect:
In the Tire Beer Trot, contestants ran through two rows of tires with a cup of beer in each hand. Some tripped over the tires. Some made it to the end, where a judge made sure they didn’t spill much, which was a disqualification.
If they didn’t spill it, they drank one whole cup and ran through the tires again. The first to finish their second beer afterward was the winner. Only 16 were chosen by lottery to play. As they played, Billy Currington’s “I’m Pretty Good at Drinking Beer” and George Thorogood’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer” roared over the loudspeakers.
Near the end, Jeff St. Amand of L-A Music Factory, master of ceremonies for the event, announced that they had a problem. They were out of Budweiser cans for contestants to drink down. Luckily, someone happened by with a few extra cans.
Sounds fun. Rednecks know how to party and laugh at themselves, after all. But the humorless U.S. Olympic Committee isn’t laughing.
The Redneck Olympics are facing a legal challenge from the United States Olympic Committee, according to organizer Harold Brooks.
Brooks said he received a phone call Monday from a legal office of the USOC, telling him he needs to change the name of his event in the future or face a lawsuit.
He was told the word “Olympics” is the property of the Olympic Committee. Brooks said it’s a case of large group bullying a small businessman.
“I said, ‘I’m not basing it on your Olympics, I’m basing it on the Olympics in Greece”…The Olympics has been around for thousands of years.’
It wouldn’t be the first time the USOC has threatened to sue someone for using the word “Olympics” in a name. Under the U.S. Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the committee has exclusive rights to the name in the U.S.
A Minnesota band called “The Olympic Hopefuls” was forced to change its name to “The Hopefuls” in 2009. In 1982, an athletic event called the “Gay Olympics” changed its name to the “Gay Games” when the committee threatened a lawsuit.
According to the Special Olympics website, the USOC gave special permission for the Special Olympics to use the word in 1971.
The thing is, there may be no more stubborn entity than a Maine Yankee.
Brooks said he has no plan to change the name. “People told me this is the only Olympics they’ll ever go to,” he said. Most of his guests couldn’t afford to fly to the real Olympics, he said, and he said no one would ever confuse the two events.
“I’m going to refuse to not use that word,” he said.