I quit the Crossfit Open Games this year. I struggled for some time about my rationale for that. I thought about possible reasons:
- I work a full time job, I work out daily, adding stress isn’t a good thing.
- I’ve been struggling with injuries lately, time to ease back.
- The programming has been bad, e.g. 15.2 was just poor programming.
- It’s not fair.
But on examination I can argue against my own points in each case. So I won’t belabor that. What really got me about this year’s Open is that for the first time ever Crossfit was UNDEMOCRATIC.
Crossfit is founded on an ethos that fitness if for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, or how old you are. As the Crossfit web site (http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html)states “The aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness”. Generally speaking for the past three years I would vehemently agree with this. I workout daily with people older, younger, fitter, less fit, and just about anything in between.
The Crossfit Open Games historically has also followed that mantra. But this year the Games organizers did a few new things, the most interesting one was the creation of a “Scaled” class. These would be easier versions of the “Prescribed” or Rx workouts. That sounds great on paper. But here is the sticking part: the best Scaled workout score will always score lower than the worst Rx. Huh? That isn’t how it works at the gym every day when we all have our scores on the whiteboard.
What this means is that for workout 15.3 (third workout in 2015) if I do 150 wallballs and 150 single unders (a movement by the way we never do at the gym) I will score worse than the person who can hack a single Muscle Up. Huh? How does that align with the vision of fitness? How is that inclusive?
Jumping the Shark
I don’t know what the goal of this year’s Open is. People tell me that it’s a balancing act between getting the best athletes in the world into Regionals and then the Finals vs. including everyone. And this year they broke the deal. The thing is: all of the past Opens sorted out the best athletes in the world and also allowed all of us to score/compete in the same way. Or is CrossfitHQ telling us that somehow Froning’s wins just weren’t valid because the Open workouts weren’t hard enough?
Worse for Crossfit is that this sense of elite vs. non-elite isn’t going to work. When did Nike become the ubuitous company it is? When it found a way to open running to the general public in the early 70’s. Before that running was a sport for an odd species of nut who wanted to suffer (sound familiar Crossfit people?). And then Nike found some decent running shoes1, sponsored a few races, and now it seems like everyone has run a 5K, a “color run”, maybe a half or full marathon. Nike is everywhere.
Crossfit has decided that rather than expand to the every-person their marquee event will now be closed to the few, the truly elite athletes. And that’s fine I guess, it’s their business. But it saddens me that it leaves out weekend-warriors and middling athletes and most importantly the wannabe who could think “hey, I did that 10% slower than the pros, maybe if I just trained a little harder”. CrossfitHQ decided to squash that dream this week.
And Now What
I’m very much at peace with this decision. I will continue to do Crossfit 4-5 times a week as it helps me reach my true goal of always being fit. I will continue to participate in local competitions as long as those competitions stay fun, open, and interesting (I had more fun at the Elysian Games and the Crossfit 425 throwdown in 2 days than in 10 days at the Open). And I may branch out; maybe it’s time to run a bit more, or dust of the bicycle or go check out Grid (which is basically Crossfit Games for retired pro athletes).
- We can argue of course as to whether those running shoes were a good thing or not ↩