If I had to sum up my feelings about this year’s Open in a single phrase, it would be, “Mixed Emotions”. As I reflect upon the past several weeks, I will share my observations regarding what I believe was Good, Bad and Ugly, in this year’s Open. These are simply my opinions, your mileage may vary.
Let me begin by saying the honeymoon is over. What do I mean by that? Well, when I did the Open last year, I was relatively new to CrossFit. All my Box Mates had been with me since we began together. We had evolved together. There was an incredible camaraderie that only grew stronger through the Open in 2013.
Since then, our passion for CrossFit has changed as we went from newbies to addicts and competitors. The morning crew has also changed as many of the originals have moved for career opportunities, or are starting families. Yes, I am being a bit nostalgic for the bonding that took place in those early days.
All this reminiscing is not to suggest that I am unhappy with the current crew, it’s simply that last year was a special period. An era whose time has passed.
I sincerely believe that the excitement generated by the 2013 Open contributed greatly to our passion for CrossFit and the growth that my local box, CrossFit 2a, experienced. Athletes felt the games were very inclusive and that every man and woman could play. No, not every person would excel, but you knew you could step into the arena and experience the thrill.
Looking at 2014 Open, many of us who were doing our second Open, actually performed better, myself included. Yet, I often found myself in a funk with almost every announcement. Yes, CrossFit HQ is ratcheting up the intensity, but at what cost?
I agree that you want to thin out the herd for the Regionals. But you don’t have to do it in the first movement of a WOD. Many athletes who are much stronger and more capable than I, washed out or struggled with Double-Unders and Toes-to-Bar.
I am not talking about athletes who had any aspirations of going to Regionals. But these were guys and gals who could certainly move through a 10 minute AMRAP and get a good workout.
Earlier I mentioned that last year, my box-mates felt the games were inclusive. We didn’t feel that way this year. Throwing Double-Unders in as the first movement was a downer for many people. I did the WOD twice, back to back, just to get a few points so I wouldn’t wash out. One could argue that because of the Open, I succeeded in getting my first DU. But for a guy who took almost a year to learn Single-Unders, I’d counter that this is not the forum in which to learn DUs.
The motto “Forging Elite Fitness” is wonderful. But the Open, by the very nature of the word “open”, should not aspire to be elitist until deep into the series. The Open, in my view, is to foster passion for fitness, ability, athleticism and camaraderie at the grass roots level. That is at the local affiliate. Without the passion at the local box, there is no CrossFit.
A key part of what I love about the Open is the electricity in the air from the anticipation of what’s to come. It is not unlike a little kid on Christmas Eve. We have such high expectations, and we imagine we will be challenged and we will triumph.
I also love the speculation of the WODs and the tips on Facebook, and YouTube. I love tips by Brian MacKenzie, Diane Fu, Jon Gilson from Again Faster, and Doug Larson at Barbell Shrugged. I love the friends that I celebrated with on Thursday evenings, the camaraderie and the passion to overcome adversity with every WOD.
I love the well-produced CrossFit Games Updates sponsored by Reebok. The CrossFit/Reebok Media Team has dialed in what it takes to provide a professional broadcast for our unique CF community. I enjoyed having a CrossFit Open 2014 app on my iPhone, that worked flawlessly for me, including media coverage, workouts and leaderboard. Cool stuff for a web-addicted geek like me.
I loved watching the best of the best competing head-to-head every Thursday evening as they executed the grueling WODs moments after they had been announced. I loved the awe of these athletic performances, while being aware of my poor imitation that would follow within the next 48 hours.
There were things that I did not like. As mentioned earlier, I do not believe the events were as inclusive as last year. Which is disappointing when you figure about 200,000 people throughout the world paid to play. Look at the first WOD, beginning with Double-Unders. Now go to the leaderboards and see how many people washed out on the first movement of the first event. Furthermore, look at the 14.4 and look how many people never scored past 60, because they couldn’t do Toes-To-Bar.
I was also very aware that there was very little consideration afforded to Masters in regards to scaling compared to last year. Yes, I confess, that is my personal bias.
My Thursday Night friends were not impressed with the Hipster personalities leading the announcements and the WODs. Dave Castro may be a great guy, I really can’t say. I don’t know the man. But I will say he comes off as an arrogant dink during these announcements. I typically like Rory McKernon, but he was working too hard to be cool. And lastly, Kiki Dickson. She is an accomplished woman in the CrossFit community, but she was morphed into a bizarre bit of eye-candy, in bizarre fashions, doing bizarre commentary, and conducting bizarre interviews.
I know they are striving to generate enthusiasm, I get it. But they are trying too hard and it all seems so contrived, which actually dulled my enthusiasm. Yeah, I know. I’m a cranky old man. But the girls I spent five Thursday evenings with aren’t old. They are vibrant, aggressive, athletic women, who are “cool”. And even though we differ in age, gender, and coolness, we all shared similar views on the “personalities” doing the broadcast.
One more thing, let’s scrap the Twitter post-WOD interviews. Just how much play-by-play can you do on a ten minute AMRAP? I’d rather have more biographical insight regarding the athletes.
I honestly do not know where the CrossFit Open fits into my future. The fact of the matter is that the CrossFit Open may be counter productive to my long range goals. Let’s be real. I have no aspirations to get to the Regionals or the Games. So why throw my progress out the window by doing a 35 minutes Cardio Killer like 14.5? I love CrossFit, but not for the sake of CrossFit. I love CrossFit as a means to an end. That end is a healthier me, a stronger me.
It was clear to many of my CrossFit friends, that this may be the last time that many of us register in the CrossFit “Open”. As individuals and collectively, we have concluded that CrossFit HQ is no longer interested in the majority of the CF enthusiasts that support the local affiliates. It is becoming increasingly obvious that they simply want to foster the spectacle of CrossFit.
OK, I’m a heretic, so stone me. Get Defiant! Get Well!
What’s your opinion regarding the 2014 Open? What do you think about the direction CrossFit HQ is going with the Open?