American snowboarder Shaun White has his own line of sportswear in the United State. It does not include garishly patterned sweaters like the U.S. Olympic Team uniforms. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Ugly Christmas sweaters are an ever more popular fashion in the United States. They’re so popular, evidently, that they’ve made it to the Olympics, as the official garb of the U.S. Olympic Team.

The parade of athletes is at once one of the more tedious and endearing aspects of the Games. For those of us watching at home, it’s one of the only opportunities we’ll get to see the also-rans, the small countries, the 46-year-old Wall Street whiz from Staten Island who has managed to figure out a way to compete for Dominica, the Peruvian who broke some ribs but is going to try to compete anyway, the sherpa from Nepal who took four months off work to train as a cross-country skier but doesn’t expect to finish.

So sanitized are our prime-time broadcasts, so prepackaged and fluffed up with putative entertainment (Maria Sharapova cooking? really?), that one grasps at every bit of reality, international spirit, local color one can get — like the lone athlete from Tajikistan, walking in with a thick knit scarf and the dazed look common to many of these athletes encountering the 40,000-seat stadium for the first time.