Olympic Culture: Pin Trading

Utah Olympic ParkPin trading was part of the experience of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Here is an excerpt from a CNN.com article on the passion of pin trading:

Doug Todd was among old friends. Just outside one of the security checkpoints to the Main Press Center, he was happily chatting with anyone who came up to him looking at his flair-laden vest.

Todd and eight other people had set up a makeshift pin trading area. I wasn’t a very good trader. I had a few CNN.com pins my colleague Thom Patterson had suggested I take. Most of the traders were disappointed because they are crazy about Olympic pins and I didn’t have any of those. So I gave them mine, concluding that even if they didn’t want one (only one was enthusiastic about getting one), well then, they could do what they do and get something good in exchange.

Todd said this was his 12th Olympics; he has been to every one since Los Angeles, including the Winter Games.

He waxed existentially about his hobby and the happiness it brings him. “The destination is your collection, but it’s the journey,” he said. “Like life, the journey is the people you meet and the memories you create as you build you collection.”

Dan Baker, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, said he was amazed by the spectacle of the Games and he seemed to be having a good time, despite the heat. Camped underneath a purple umbrella, the bare-footed Baker traded pins with tourists, athletes and volunteers. The pins for these Olympics – his 13th – are fantastic, he said.

“Trading has been great,” he said. “Everybody who is anybody is here and they all seem to have pins. And they are all beautiful pins.”

Like Todd, Louie Barbosa has been collecting pins since 1984. He said there were about 30 people who had come from Los Angeles to Beijing to swap stories and pins. He asked several times if I had a pin that said Beijing on it. That seemed to be the prominent question today.

Click here to read the entire article.

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