I still have one more post about my Florida trip, but I’m taking a little detour today. I was watching the Winter Olympic Games coverage this morning via the Today show, and they had the U.S. Army Band playing what’s become know as the U.S. Olympic Games theme song (Bugler’s Dream). I was immediately transported back to my first Winter Games experience and the reason I started my first blog. It was 2006 and I was preparing to leave for Torino, Italy for the Winter Games. With the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece under my belt, I knew what to expect- specifically, the monumental amount of work involved for staff mixed with the abundant requests for email updates from friends and family. So, I started the blog thinking that I’d post when I had time so friends and family could check in whenever they wanted. I enjoyed giving context to what they were seeing on TV and really got into the story-telling. One of the things mentioned on the Today show this morning was the subculture of Olympic pin trading and I remembered that I had done a blog post on it 16 years ago. So, in a fit of nostalgia, I’m re-sharing that post here. Enjoy and Go Team USA!
The Olympics is like a circus that rolls into town. It’s not just the Games that are happening, there’s the whole spectacle of the Games that happens. One of the more amusing (and sometimes annoying) side shows of the Olympics is pin trading. Every country, sponsor, sport, etc. has its own pin for the Olympic Games. The designs range from national flags and sport emblems to cartoons and works of art! There are official pins and “renegade” pins, but each has its own character and some are more coveted than others. Everyone in the USA delegation is issued about 15 Team USA pins and 15 USA sport/staff specific pins.
The professional pin traders present a much more enjoyable experience than the SWAGgers. The “professionals” are people who come from all over the world just to trade Olympic pins. If you check out ebay, you’ll see that Olympic pin trading can be big business. It seems that for the most part though, these folks do it just for the fun of it. I’m not really into the whole pin-trading scene, but just to see what some of the ones from other countries look like, I checked out one guy’s collection. He saw one of my Team USA pins and asked which pin of his I’d like to trade it for. When I told him I’d just give it to him, he actually seemed disappointed that I didn’t want one of his in return!
The official definition of the acronym SWAG is “sundries, wearables, and gifts” used by marketing departments to describe free stuff they hand out as promotions. To everyone else, it means “stuff we all get.” The SWAGgers are the people who feel that they are entitled to your Olympic pin. SWAGgers can be your waiter or the security guy running your stuff through the metal detector. It’s always awkward when you only have a couple of pins on you and your saving it for some little kid who recognizes the American flag on your sleeve and smiles at you or the waiter who patiently takes 20 minutes to explain the menu to a group of people who can’t speak a lick of Italian.
Just thought y’all would like to hear a little bit about the side shows of the Olympics!