US Olympics Committee: Redneck Olympics disrespects athletes

Glen Pomerleau of Poland navigates the mud pit on his all-terrain vehicle at the first Redneck Olympics in Hebron on Saturday.
Jose Leiva/Sun Journal
Glen Pomerleau of Poland navigates the mud pit on his all-terrain vehicle at the first Redneck Olympics in Hebron on Saturday.
By Tony Reaves, Sun Journal
Posted Aug. 16, 2011, at 4:05 p.m.

HEBRON, Maine — The Redneck Olympics “is disrespectful” to U.S. Olympic athletes, according to a letter from the United States Olympic Committee to Redneck Olympics organizer Harold Brooks of Hebron.

On Saturday, Brooks received a letter from the USOC asking him not to use the name “Olympics” if he intends to hold the Redneck Olympics in the future. The committee doesn’t seek damages for the word’s use in the Aug. 5-7 event.

Citing the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the letter said there is “no question” that Brooks violated federal law by selling tickets to the Redneck Olympics, which cost $15 to $20 for the weekend, including camping. The act gives the USOC all rights to the word “Olympics” in the United States.

“We believe using the name ‘Redneck Olympics’ for a competition that involves toilet-seat horseshoes and bobbing for pigs’ feet tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” the letter reads.

Brooks objected to that characterization. “How can the people, the average person, in their activities, degrade anything?”

Brooks said the letter hasn’t changed his mind on holding another Redneck Olympics, a move that could spur a lawsuit from the USOC, who have filed suits in other instances of people using the word “Olympics.”

“They don’t scare me,” Brooks said Monday.

Brooks said the idea that the USOC owns a word is wrong, and wants it to change on a national level. He said he wants to see Congress change the law and put the word back in the hands of the public.
According to the committee’s letter, the law ensures that the Olympics remain “extraordinary and unique.”

“Otherwise,” the letter reads, “the Olympic Games might end up as just another sporting competition.”

Brooks said an attorney has suggested a parody defense, stating that Brooks’ use of the word falls under fair use because his event is a parody of the Olympics. He said he likes that argument, but would like to take it further.

“Everybody should be able to use the word, not just me because it’s a parody,” Brooks said. “What if they took more words? What if they took the word ‘fair?’ Can you imagine the loss to our society if we couldn’t have any other fairs?”

He plans on starting a Facebook page asking Americans to support putting the word “Olympics” back into the public domain.

Brooks said he’s trying to get Charlie Daniels to perform as a fundraiser for the Redneck Olympics. He said if it happens, he’ll send tickets to the USOC. He has also contacted David Letterman in hopes the TV host will weigh in on his show.

According to Brooks, hundreds have emailed him letters of support, and trademark attorneys nationwide have expressed interest in representing him.

Calls to USOC spokespeople were not returned Monday.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/16/news/lewiston-auburn/us-olympics-committee-redneck-olympics-disrespects-athletes/ printed on July 25, 2014