So just back from the Naaaaavan GRID Invitational I thought I’d jot down some thoughts on it.
It’s not going to be, nor should it be, CrossFit. The analogy is that GRID is the NBA, and that CrossFit is The Olympics. I don’t think this is accurate. Firstly, if GRID survives as a sport, it’s going to become very different from CF. A more apt analogy is that CF is rugby: it’s continuous, more drawn out. GRID is more akin to NFL. Short burst of absolute effort, then you’re done. (It’s not a perfect analogy.) If this continues, GRID is going to become more specialist and there’ll be less crossover between the two sports.
If GRID continues on as a sport, with specialist positions, this could lead to it’s own problems. If you’re a snatch specialist, facing off against another snatch specialist, it would be pretty easy to pick the winner with reasonable accuracy before the event even takes place. One way you could make this interesting is forcing specialists to do things they’re not good at. Klokov will have to learn how to do double unders and backwards rolls to support before he can impress us with his snatching prowess. You could keep specialists of course, and have the generalist decide how the matches are won. It depends on where you want to take the sport.
Right now, GRID feels like sprint team events from the early CrossFit Games. Girls matter more than guys and in team events, you don’t need to concern yourself with pace or strategy. For each member, it’s more a case of burn out, then let the next in line take over.
Early CrossFit Games teams events were very much determined by the girls. This is where the events were won and lost, and it by and large came down to the weakest link on the team as well. CrossFit as it evolved forced teams to do more teamwork (think the worm, synchronised overhead squats, two person deadlifts etc.) and also rely on all team members, rather than punishing the weakest/slowest member.
Early CrossFit was also as ugly as sin, remember this:
Given GRID’s incredible short time domain inefficiencies in technique mightn’t matter, so it mightn’t ever look as pretty as it could. This is going to be a pretty big barrier towards it’s acceptance I reckon. It’ll give detractors something to attack GRID with. We accept that there’s ugly or chaotic instances in other sports, but these are balanced out by moments of sheer genius or beauty. GRID has to provide us with these as well.
As the sport is so quick, it’s very hard to differentiate athletes and teams on cycle time, so matches can be won and lost more on transition times. This will appeal to strategists more. Having said that, as the sport carries on, athletes will be able to complete more unbroken, so there’s less room for transition times to decide races.
As cycle time isn’t going to be as big a factor, one missed rep or no rep can determine the match. This can be problematic for GRID, as if you know the match is won early on, it would be easy to lose interest. Matches then need to be designed in such a way so that even if a team or athlete gets ahead, there’s further challenges in the race that will allow their opponents a chance of catching up.
One thing that’s interesting is whether teams should be made finish their heats. Today we finished out. In full GRID I think they award points for finishing within the time cap. It makes sense because you could “throw” a race that’s going to burn out their athletes so they’re fresher for later races, and win the match.
Refs calls will matter quite a lot. As a dodgy call/non call can lead to a big impact. Refs are human, and it’s easy to call a refereeing error in the comfort of your seat on the sidelines. I’m not sure challenge flags are the answer here, given that challenges are only reviewed after a complete game. I enjoyed throwing my challenge flag (keys) today on a false start, I felt like a real coach.
It was fun to be a part of it today. Whether it’s just a bit of fun or a viable long term activity and spectator sport remains to be seen. Where GRID is different than CrossFit is that the sport of CrossFit grew out of Glassman’s initial aim of creating competition in the gym day in, day out. Because of the fanaticism of CrossFitters, the sport was given time to grow organically and it’s supporters were more forgiving of it’s errors.
GRID is set us as a sport for tv, and is packaged as a complete spectacle. But it’s not a finished product yet. It has problems to overcome like any sport. However other sports have a fan base, who accept the sport and see it evolve. GRID is under much more time and financial pressure than a lot of other sports to carve out it’s identity, structure and appeal.
No matter what happens, it’ll be fun to watch it evolve. And there’ll always be selfies.