Here it is, the start of yet another CrossFit season. Exciting times! To me, this is the coolest sport in the world. But before we talk about why CrossFit is the coolest sport in the world, let’s look at why sport is so important in the first place.
For one, there’s the living vicariously element. Sports is the great unscripted drama that engrosses us. Even just as a spectator, not even a participant, we get to live true passion and emotion. In it’s condensed, microcosmic state, sport can take us out of our humdrum existence and make us feel alive in a way that are daily lives rarely do.
We get to experience amazing highs and lows by attaching ourselves to our team, and to an athlete.
The great beauty of CrossFit lies in the fact that the line between athlete and fan are blurred, to the point where they don’t really exist. We are not part of The Olympics, or The World Cup, but by being part of The Open we legitimately part of The CrossFit Games.
Interestingly, running events like the marathon have this, yet they do not generate the same appeal. Maybe it’s because the promotion behind it doesn’t foster that. Maybe it’s down to the fact that most, if not all of your training is solitary, and the race is a solitary pursuit. You’re just one face in the crowd, rather that a unique athlete with a personal judge as well!
Sports provides two things that regular life just doesn’t – fairness and meritocracy.
We believe in the fairness of sport. The rules are the same for everyone, and they’re enforced equally amongst everyone too. We all know the rules of the game, when it will start, what will be required of us, what’s needed to win. We all start at the same time, with the same chance of winning on any given day. Life isn’t like this. Some have started much farther ahead than you, and are travelling at a greater pace. They might have started when the rules and the playing field were very different, too.
Meritocracy, everyone has a chance to excel, based purely on their work and ability. Outside circumstances don’t come into it. There’s 11-a-side in soccer, and the track is 400m for everyone running the race.
Now, are these things true in sport? No. But that doesn’t matter, because sport approaches these two ideals far more than regular life does. Sport gives us the belief in these two things, and the great hope (and great escape) that comes with it.
It’s not a meritocracy, nor is it fair. If you don’t have access to a swimming pool, a great coach and program, and parents willing to sacrifice a lot of time and money to see you reach your potential, you are not going to be going up against Michael Phelps anytime soon. It doesn’t matter if you had the potential to equal or edge him out.
And in that way it’s not fair, but it makes us believe in it.
CrossFit HQ have done their best to market The Games as fair. And to their credit they’ve made it as accessible as possible too. Anyone with an internet connection and $20 can enter. And the way they’ve promoted and marketed “the community” most affiliates will welcome you in to participate in The Open with them as well.
So you do have a chance to go directly against Froning or Foucher! Do you have the same equal likelihood of qualifying? No, but that’s not the same as having a fair competition.
And before we all bitch about the standards of judging being different across competition and affiliates ruining the fairness of it all let’s just accept that judges will make mistakes.
Hell, at The Fricking Games I’ve seen judging mistakes. In Cinco 2 Bozman clearly said that you had to kick up to a handstand position, before lowering yourself to the deficit. Lucas Parker consistently kicked up to the headstand and then kip like a mofo to lock out. The judge gave him his reps.
In Cinco 1 Froning didn’t finish the HS walk. Look at the video, he doesn’t get both hands past the finish line. Now, he pirouettes out of it with perfect control, but it would take ONE HELL of a judge to call him back in front of Castro, ESPN, and the 10,000 people screaming in the stadium!
There’s also another, often overlooked and far more valuable aspect that sport teaches those who partake in it – social skills.
Classrooms and school sucks, big time.
There’s a scene in “Louie” where there’s a parent teacher meeting. All the parents are throwing out a whole bunch of reasons why the kids are lethargic in the afternoons. Parents are suggesting that it’s the lunches, that it’s the lack of prayer, that it’s the order of classes, teaching methods etc. etc.
Then Louis CK, in an unpopular but 100% correct statement, says that school sucks. “I mean, you do what you can but school sucks.”
School sucks, it’s a highly contrived environment that rather interestingly goes back to the Austrio-Prussian ideal of building an obedient civil service. While we are put into an unnatural environment, somewhere along the line we’ve to learn how to socialise and develop as humans.
In sports, there’s a common goal, and a concerted effort to collectively reach that. This demands a need for co-operation, and compels us to find our abilities and utilise them for the greater good.
Through facing adversity, we form bonds of kinship. Far stronger than we do by just being in proximity to one another for classes or work. The blood of the covenant truly is thicker than the water of the womb. When we collectively suffer through a workout we feel closer to those around us, we’ve become part of the tribe. When we face the challenge of The Open, the war, the challenge is far greater. We’re forced to confront the limitations of our fitness. And by facing them down, we grow ourselves and strengthen the bonds with our horde.
Because of the wide range of sports, it allows an opportunity for someone to excel in a way they haven’t before. They can ‘find themselves’. I’ve been involved of lots of sports and I think this is what CrossFit has done immensely well. It’s actually hidden the sport inside of a class! For so many (particularly given the American elitist attitude) sport has meant their failure as they weren’t good enough.
But CrossFit (in affiliates, maybe not so The Games) allows you to make your own grade, and fight your own battle, while still being on the same team as the jocks.
Going back to the idea of living vicariously, you can live vicariously through the jocks that train right alongside you in your affiliate. Granted, Camille may be a distant celebrity to you, but your affiliate team are people JUST LIKE YOU! How cool is that?
So CrossFit definitely is the coolest sport in the world, even moreso than Weightlifting 😛 And now I’m going to prove it.
Firstly, why CrossFit edges out WL. Because only one part of WL is cool – the snatch. The Clean & Jerk can go eat a bag of dicks.
In the snatch, you make the lift, possibly step forward a bit, and boom you feel like a million bucks. In the clean, you catch it, and THEN you’ve got to start working. You’ve got to front squat. And the front squat is a mean and uncaring lift that does not give a shit about you or your problems. And then once you stand up, a herculean effort, you’ve got to somehow figure out how to put it over your head!
But I digress.
CrossFit is cool for a number of reasons.
Yeah, I went there, it’s totes elite. What do I mean by this? It allows regular folk like you and me to do elite things. Things that only the jocks got to do, or only the best athletes ever got a shot at. All the sexy Olympic Lifts, we now get to do them. We get to play on rings and climb ropes. We get to do pull ups and handstands and test ourselves almost directly against our heroes.
Seriously, who hasn’t been amazed at themselves the first time they climbed a rope! How awesome was it that you conquered your fear of that. In fact, the first time I climbed a rope I was so excited and terrified I just let go from the top. I survived without injury but I’ve no desire to repeat that experiment to see if it’s safe for everyday dismounts. The Open amplifies this great feeling. (Achieving the previously impossible. Not falling from 15 foot.)
Because of CrossFit’s popularity you can buy an Olympic bar for like €100, and bumper plates are around €3/Kg now. Gymnastic rings used to cost crazy amounts of money, like $500 I believe. Now, you can get a pair for $25! The flip side of our fanaticism is that we pay $120 for a Nike Metcon shoe and $50 for a jump rope. (You know the Americans don’t know what a skipping rope is? – It’s what we Europeans call a jump rope.)
Why else is it cool? Direct comparison through all levels of competition.
I love rugby, and wish I played more of it. Who knows, with a lot of dedication and effort I might have even made it up to 2nd string club level.
I played at Junior 5 level, and even reached the dizzying heights of J3 in my second year. In my two short seasons I gained a great appreciation for the game that I hadn’t had in my 5-10 years of watching.
BUT, I have zero idea what it’s like to spin a pass out to ROG, or tackle Paulie shy of the try line.
In CrossFit however, I got to workout alongside Rich Froning. I can see Khalipa hit a workout and say “you know what, I’m going to do that.” I can enter my score and see just how far or close I was to any other athlete in the world. Same challenge. Same conditions (more or less). While we mightn’t have looked each other in the eye we went head to head.
But seriously, read Siobhan’s piece on her experience with The Open. She was bugging me to write up why I thought people should do The Open and I threw the challenge back at her. I personally thought her unedited piece was better that what made the site but hey, she’s been shared and read more than me!
Just a few hours to go until the 2015 season kicks off. Exciting!