Jenn Jones during Pedal to the Metal. From Games.CrossFit.com
I don’t remember a year where there was no complaining about the programming at the CrossFit Games. Of course, when the programming just happens to serve someone’s interest, then it’s great. But if your horse lost the race, or someone can’t complete a task, then suddenly the CrossFit Games have “gotten out of hand” and are “too hard.”
Are you fucking kidding me? Sports are too hard? Anyone who thinks a test for something to find the best in the whole world–in which many people performed quite well–is too hard, either doesn’t understand sports, or is being willfully contrarian.
If you think something, by definition is too hard, then you just haven’t got the point yet. That’s a really ineffectual mentality. If an athlete came to me in class and said “Hey, I can’t do this it’s too hard,” I’d respond that no, it’s not. Find out what part of the workout has them frazzled, and scale it appropriately for them. But, this isn’t a class.
Some people have a will to continue which exceeds their capacity. A resolve to endure that makes the rest of us feel sheepish and inadequate when it’s displayed.
It’s supposed to be hard. Strangely most of this is coming from bystanders. People who are making a judgement by relating the exact tasks they see at the Games to their own experiences. They think, “Holy shit, these are the best CrossFit athletes on earth and they can’t do it. That means I can’t do that. No one should do that.”
Nothing could be more myopic and out of touch.
In 2009 it was parallette HSPU and muscle-ups. Gasp. How could women be expected to do that? And true, some looked inept at those tasks (Annie Thorisdottir learned how to do a muscle-up during the final that year). Well, they look pretty proficient now. Then it was ocean swims, legless rope climbs and deficit HSPU. It’s the same story, different year. We can bet no one will be struggling on the peg board in the future.
There’s a gulf here between reality and the perspective of the commenter. It’s the motherfucking grand canyon of myopia. A huge complaint was athletes weren’t finishing events like Murph and Pedal to the Metal 1. Well, no shit, the Games aren’t trying to make sure everyone finishes every event. When was that a requirement? Alex Viada put this in wonderful perspective (Alex made several other great points on his facebook page, head over there and check them out).
We need to keep in mind, with the huge growth in the number of people watching the CrossFit Games, all categories of people are increased proportionally. That includes people who aren’t generally into sports (outside of CrossFit), people who aren’t naturally competitive, and those who haven’t been athletic prior to CrossFit; those whose exposure to sport is limited either by experience or choice to what happens in their day-to-day workout. So none of the info you see above enters into their summation of the Games.
The biggest celebration of everything we do in CrossFit as an event, are the CrossFit Games. But, we aren’t the CrossFit Games. We all come together to marvel and carouse at the Games with our fitness brethren, but there is a competition happening there, and it’s not for us to do. It’s for 40 men, 40 women, and 40 teams who have proven themselves the fittest among us. The purpose is to find which of these 40 in each category are the fittest on earth.
The Games are a test, they’re not a showcase designed to make people look good or to be entertaining (although it is entertaining as hell). You have to expose people at their limit to find the best. If you’re not doing so, you aren’t even close. Paraphrasing Greg Glassman, we fail at the margins of our experience. If you don’t go to that place–you don’t have some people fail–you’re making the holes in your sieve far too big. Not everyone should make it through.
Sam Briggs during Murph. From Games.CrossFit.com
People point at Murph, and say things like “It was too hot,” or “It was too much.” Seriously? Meanwhile, all over the country high school and college kids are preparing for two and three-a-days in the same heat. Some of them will pass out from exertion (I did). It’s not because something is too hard. It’s because some people have a will to continue which exceeds their capacity. A resolve to endure that makes the rest of us feel sheepish and inadequate when it’s displayed.
“Holy shit, these are the best CrossFit athletes on earth and they can’t do it. That means I can’t do that. No one should do that.” Nothing could be more myopic and out of touch.
The true competitive athlete, in any sport, will continue and suffer through anything for their cause, until it’s no longer up to them. People who don’t have this resolve don’t like watching it, because they’re confronted with their own perceived fear of inadequacy. People fucking hate when other people do shit which shatters their perceived limits.
“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die,” famously said Steve Prefontaine, one of the most legendary runners and athletes of all time and certified bad motherfucker.
The intensity of competition is determined by the competitors engaged in the test, not the other way around. They do it simply because they can. No one called for the ban of running because Pre did it so hard it made people bleed from the soul. This is another element people are ignoring, the level of competition. None of those athletes, in their home gym, are going to go to that place. But they’re competitors, and this isn’t their box; it’s the CrossFit Games. It could be a goddamn tricycle ride, and they’d still go to these levels of complete, utter exhaustion to beat the guy or girl next to them.
This ain’t kindergarten field day, chief.
These athletes will push to the bleeding, white-hot edge on any challenge they’re faced with. The test isn’t too hard, the will to win is stronger than gravity.
Australia’s Kara Webb looked like she was borderline unconscious for a good portion of the second mile run, and collapsed at the finish. This is not a sign that the Games are too hard. It’s an awe-inspiring example of grit and fortitude by a fucking warrior of an athlete. It’s one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in sports, and I’ve seen a lot of sports. She chose to continue, because her will was even stronger than her prodigiously powerful body. She’s a goddamn animal, with determination most of us can only dream of.
Who are you, or I, to decide how hard an athlete is allowed to push themselves? In a marathon, a triathlon, the olympics, the Western States 100, the Death Race, etc, where people piss and shit themselves routinely in competition, this is lauded as achievement and perseverance, not a cause to believe “things have gotten out of hand.” For whom? For you? Fuck that. I don’t want to live, train, compete or spectate in a world of sport where people just take a knee and relax when things get bad. I’ve gone over that edge, as Webb did, and woke up on the training table of my college’s athletic center some time later. I did it willingly, I don’t regret it, and I’d do those 100-yd bear crawls in the 95-degree, 100% humidity heat again without reservation.
There is no outrage over marathon runners shitting themselves, football players breaking bones or suffering head injuries. No call for the banning of all races over a certain distance. There’s not a coalition of dentists trying to make hockey players use a Nerf puck. Nor should there be. The Games are no different.
If you don’t understand it, then maybe sports aren’t for you. This ain’t kindergarten field day, chief. This isn’t the everybody-gets-a-trophy youth league. It’s not the test to find the fittest comfortable people who look good doing stuff. It’s to find the fittest man, woman, and team on earth. There will be blood, sweat, tears, piss and shit and anyone who has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning it is ok with that.
Like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, the CrossFit Games are hard, but they are fair. What about the athletes who crushed these supposedly too-hard tests, and walked away with a top finish and a smile? Margaux Alvarez and Amanda Goodman made the pegboard their shit-h0use bitch. Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson and Sam Briggs laid waste to Murph like evil robots from the future who don’t feel pity or remorse.
Calling for softer tests is an insult to these athletes. It’s a slight to their preparation, an affront to the glory they’ve earned, and an attempt to tarnish the title they seek.
We have not run away from the limits of human performance and potential; we’ve barely scratched the surface.