The Fallout and Ugly Underbelly of The CrossFit Games 2020 Season

I started CrossFit four years ago. I started CrossFit because it was gritty, raw, and real. I also started it because my friends did it, and those friends happen to also be some of those that CrossFit has recently deemed ‘not good enough’ to make exceptions for at the 2020 CrossFit Games.

Look, I love the sport itself. I love the workouts, the formats, the communities, and competitive opportunities. The sport itself is honest, transparent, and is a reward for your hard work with an opportunity for any athlete of any ability to advance themselves in a competitive nature. CrossFit as a sport is a unique, heart pumping, gut-wrenchingly hard, and incredible experience all in the same moment.

Unfortunately, the CrossFit Games and the 2020 season have shown the ugly underbelly at HQ and the fallout is only beginning. The recent decisions to narrow and still have the 2020 CrossFit Games has left athletes who’ve worked for years to earn their bid and their spot on the competition floor heartbroken, with nothing to remedy the news while being isolated at home to deal with their biggest fears happening not at their own hand. 

Who is CrossFit to be able to judge and to be able to take away someone’s livelihood, to pick and choose who gets to participate and who doesn’t, when their spot(s) were rightfully earned?

Processed Junk Food

Follow me -- Inherently, almost all food is good for you in its natural form. Exercising, following CrossFit-style programming with high-intensity workouts combined with constantly varied fitness modalities together into one massive challenge is incredible.

CrossFit, the sport, improves your health, attitude, perspective, body composition, and so much more. However, it can all be changed at the mark of a decision by the one feeding it to you.

Whether it’s a workout or a piece of food, the mind behind what goes into that food before you eat it can change its quality and content. Some food is wholesome and healthy, while others are manipulated and processed. The same can be said about the fallout over the years of the CrossFit organization as a whole.

Their infatuation with individual success has clouded CrossFit HQs reality of our communities, shared experiences, and triumphs. They favor popularity and money over simple values, like the camaraderie and the community. The food that they feed us nowadays, is like processed junk food; it’s gross, embarrassing, and I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the junk.

The ruling of selecting only a special handful of athletes to compete at the 2020 Games proves it. It proves that they’ve fallen for the glamour, for the money, and for the individual, instead of the community and the values that CrossFit was ultimately founded upon. What used to be wholesome and good for you has turned into rotten, processed food.

The Fallout Of CrossFit 

Years ago, I looked forward to paying my CrossFit Open Registration Fee and trained for Friday Night Lights with my gym crew for 5 weeks in a row. I wanted to give my money, effort, time, blood, sweat, and tears, to an organization that provided me with an opportunity to awaken the spirit inside that was never matched after I stopped being a competitive athlete in college. However, year after year, HQ continues to disappoint with the rules, exceptions, favoritism, false partnerships, and shady business practices. 

Now we’re staring down the barrel of the most paramount, life-changing, and arguably the worst year we’ve experienced collectively as a human race in generations and now at the hands of HQ, our beloved professional athletes (and semi-professional) are being told they… not essential. That in fact, we’re not a community, that we’re not stronger together.

The Announcement - CrossFit Games 2020

On Saturday, May 9th, the CF Games team dropped a little bomb on the community with their announcement regarding individual athletes and their Games debut in late 2020. A new protocol has been implemented and hard-earned invitations have been rescinded, punching the air out of some of the biggest lungs in the game itself.

  • The 2020 CrossFit Games will be held in Aromas, California, instead of Madison, Wisconsin
  • Only the top 20 male & top 20 female individuals on the Open leaderboard will receive invites to compete at Aromas
  • The 10 Sanctionals™ that were held this year will send their champions to the CF Games
  • There will not be a team competition at the 2020 CrossFit Games
  • There will not be a masters competition at the 2020 CrossFit Games
  • There will not be a teens competition at the 2020 CrossFit Games
  • The National Champion Race will reset in 2021 with invites extended to champs in the upcoming CF Open

Going Where The Money Is

So how is this all meant to make people feel? Is this some sort of negative reinforcement of sport, the one that says ‘try harder next time’? Well, I call bullshit on this institution and it’s recent decision(s).

It’s no secret that the money is where the individual athletes are. If you’ve been to the CrossFit Games in Madison, you can see it based on the showings of the crowds. The moment an indy event is about to start, the crows swoon to their knees in anticipation of screaming out their favorite athlete's names from any seat in the arena.

However, as fast as the individuals leave the floor, so do the fans. Nobody watches the teams, masters, or the teens, and why should they? They’re not the prize pony’s, the money buckets, or the ticket sellers for HQ. he individuals are

So should we really be that surprised that they were the first ones to get cut when CrossFit started considering their plans for the 2020 CrossFit Games? I’d argue that no, we shouldn’t be. However, what we should be, is disappointed.

Disappointed because at the sweeping right hand of HQ we have athletes who spend years of their lives, countless hours training, sacrificing, and giving their all to be elite in their sport, only to be told that they’re ‘not-essential’ enough to be hosted at the 2020 CrossFit Games.

‘Non-Essential’ Athletes Make Up The Majority

The unfortunate thing about this that there are 7.6 billion people on earth. There are over 15,000 affiliates in 120 different countries. The 2019 CrossFit Open had over 358,646 participants and the 2020 CrossFit Open had 239,106. Of those hundreds of thousands of athletes, only 30 men and 30 women are being chosen to compete at the 2020 Games. For perspective, 148 men and 134 women competed at the 2019 CF Games (anyone curious about why there are more men than women, besides me??).

Instead of letting individuals who won Sanctional events know that their registration has been accepted and that they will be competing, they’ve been denied. Their invites rescinded, their fees refunded, their profession deemed ‘not good enough’. Who cares you’re in the top 50 of the world? Who cares if you’re on a top 20 team. Who cares if you’re the fittest teen, fittest 40, 50, or 60 years old in the WORLD.

Apparently, you're not good enough to be celebrated in the sport.
Apparently, you’re not ‘essential’ to CrossFit HQ

Why Not Postpone or Cancel The Games?

With an organization as large as CrossFit has the ability to make modifications and scale businesses to adapt to the needs of their affiliates and the bulk of their business - the other 99% of athletes in the world, aka the ones that aren’t ‘good enough’. So why not just modify the games like modifying a workout? Why not just postpone them, or cancel them, not letting anyone compete? Why does the choice have to come down to the few, and not all? What happened to the inclusiveness of the sport, the 'fitness for all' notion that's rooted so deeply within us all?

It's getting old.

No longer are the simple times when it was just a workout, a WOD, or a competition structure. The way that HQ is smashing down people’s lives and their careers is beyond me. It’s disgusting, quite honestly. To sit there and to at any moment change their mind. Ultimately, to tell the other 99% that they’re not worth their time, money, or effort, when it comes to giving them what they’ve earned in a celebration of health, fitness, and wellness, such as the CrossFit Games.

The Dirty Underbelly Of CrossFit

Let’s look at it another way, shall we? The IOC (International Olympic Committee) didn’t come into the middle of the Coronavirus and announce that they’re only allowing the most money-making and spectator watching the sport of the 28 sports to compete at the 2020 Olympics, did they? No, they didn’t. You know what the IOC decided instead of segregating, picking, choosing, and deeming athletes ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’?

THEY POSTPONED THE TOKYO OLYMPIC GAMES...
FOR EVERY SINGLE ATHLETE AND SPORT.

They didn’t let the highest-paid athletes compete, the ones with the most sponsors or accolades, prize money, or grants in their pockets. They didn’t let the highest-grossing sport waltz it’s a way through, stepping on the faces, accolades, and accomplishments of the other 27 sports that compete regularly at the Olympics.

You know why?

BECAUSE IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR EVERY ATHLETE IN EVERY SPORT, DIVISION, AND ABILITY.

The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,the IOC said in a joint statement with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

But unlike the IOC, CrossFit, for some reason, just let the show go on. For money? Maybe. For bragging rights? Who knows. Whatever the reason, that’s theirs to own. However, the most unfortunate fallout of it all?

Telling people they aren’t good enough.
Telling people they aren’t important enough.

Taking what people have rightfully earned, by following the rules, by putting in the time effort that they’ll never get back, and throwing it in their face during a time of self-isolation and worldwide health crisis RATHER than just postponing or canceling altogether. 

The Bigger Picture - The Coronavirus Pandemic

Our humanity faces a crisis. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re facing unprecedented times with a record number of 20.5 million American jobs lost in April 2020 alone. Yet, another time in the CrossFit HQ book of history, they’ve shoved the people who matter the most, off to the side to play their favorites.

A special trip to Aromas?
Oh, congratulations, I’m sure you feel so essential now, don’t you?

Instead of taking the high road, and being the leader and mentor that HQ has the opportunity to be, they’ve chosen otherwise. They’ve chosen to, yet again, slap those who’ve supported them for years in the face with changes, deeming some essential, deeming others non-essential, and leaving others out to dry as if they’re just unemployed with no compensation or acknowledgment for what they’ve given and sacrificed.

Will there be another year?
Sure there will.

Will we continue to see the decline of people supporting CrossFit as a whole due to the lack of integrity and willingness to be the leader we’ve always dreamed them to be? Yeah, I’m going to say so.

The fluidity of the situation remains at play, but hell, if HQ is really concerned about the coronavirus and the health of athletes and spectators, then postpone the whole thing, don’t just cancel it for some and not for others. In a time when we’re supposed to be coming together for the greater good of humanity, why is HQ dividing us? Why are they dividing our athletes, telling them they aren’t viable enough, telling them that they’re not special enough to have exceptions made for them? 

Why can’t CrossFit be the beacon of hope for the functional fitness community, lighting the way for all and not just for some? I’d be hard-pressed to say that the fallout of this decision and the favoritism doesn’t go deeper than expected. Why shouldn’t it, after all? Maybe the truth is what we’ve always believed, it’s been rigged since the beginning.

2020 CrossFit Games


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