USOC files a lawsuit, issues a statement, bullies nerds

The United States Olympic Committee is authoring a new handbook of business tactics that entrepreneurs should add to their bookshelves as soon as it's released. The book will be called "How to Not Make Friends and Sue People." It's going to be huge.

While the book part is a figment of my imagination, the actions aren't. In the last week the USOC has got itself into two disputes over Olympic rights.

The USOC is mad at Subway and Verizon for "ambush marketing," or as it is commonly referred to, "marketing." Basically, the organizations sponsors (McDonald's and AT&T) are upset that Subway and Verizon are allowed to mention Canada and speed skating without paying to be the official sponsors of the Olympic Games. According to the organization, these references to the Olympics, though not explicit, "damage official Olympic sponsors and undermine the USOC's financial means to ensure that America's athletes are given the best chance to perform." Somehow, I'd be willing to bet that the first part of that statement, about the sponsors losing money, is more important to the USOC than the athletes, who in no way would be affected by more people eating Italian BMTs.

And while a bunch of billion dollar corporations fighting over commercials is silly enough, the other USOC spat is even more inane. The USOC has filed a federal lawsuit against the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History to remove the "Olympic" from its name. The cool part is that the Institute is a non-profit dedicated to studying the history of sports, which is obviously a huge threat to a massive organization with filthy rich sponsors. The USOC is even asking for damages. I'm sure they lost boatloads of money because of a Pennsylvania-based organization that has a website that looks like it was built in 1994.

People market around events all the time, and organizations study history all the time. In fact, some people probably study the history of marketing around events. Filing all these lawsuits and issuing all these statements just makes you look petty. Chill out, United States Olympic Committee.

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