Anyone who has been involved in CrossFit over the years knows that “HQ” are not afraid to make big changes quickly, and that these changes ultimately have huge effects on the Sport.
The 2019 season was no exception to big changes. This led to the controversy of the 2019 Games placings, especially regarding athletes placed between 2nd and 10th through the new “cut system” CrossFit introduced that year.
Finding the Fittest on earth 2020
One of the aspects that CrossFit has repeatedly stated over the years is that the Games is an event to find the “Fittest on Earth”, not the 2nd, not the 10th, not the 112th etc…
They have therefore justified these changes as being good, because the majority of the time the fittest have won, especially on the Male side.
No-one can argue that Mat Fraser and Rich Froning, who over the last 10 years have taken 8 victories between them, weren’t the fittest on the field, and therefore they have proved the system right year after year.
The female side has been a little more unpredictable, but still 3 females: Annie, Katrin and Tia have all had their streak of dominance, once again proving the system to be right.
However when you look just 1 place behind the fittest you see a very different story and big fluctuations of placings, arguably caused, not by the athletes fitness level but by the changes introduced by HQ.
As an example; last year the field of 150 athletes on both the Male and Female side was cut to 10 after essentially 2 days. This meant 10 athletes advanced to perform the majority of events.
The trouble here is that the sport loses the depth of field creating an environment where you can expose big weaknesses, such as not being strong enough or able to swim well, but not be as penalized as the worst placement you can take is 10th.
Alongside this by removing depth of field you remove a large number of athletes that can win events and take away points (In a system that favours winning) from the final podium winners.
Now I am not suggesting that the sport shouldn’t evolve, and CrossFit HQ have shaped the discipline into the sport that I love, I do however feel that certain aspects can be improved to take the sport forward and keep it progressing. Unfortunately it is also fairly public knowledge that the owner of the Sport, Greg Glassman, has in fact never really been that interested in CrossFit as Sport.
Big changes for the CrossFit Games 2020
As we look at the suggested changes to the 2020 season, it has similar feelings to that of 2019, where due to the lack of depth the “Fittest” won’t essentially be tested, not at least compared to the tests they used to face, due to the limited number of competitors.
And I suppose that as long as there is a Fraser or Froning who can win anything you put in front of them then the system will work, however it probably isn’t the most robust way of structuring a sport.
I personally feel for the athletes that have had their 2020 Games spot just taken from them and hope they continue to maintain the motivation to push forward.
I also hope that the sport continues to evolve in a way that benefits the people who continuously support it and want to see it grow.