CrossFit Liftoff announcement

The Future of the CrossFit Games

James FitzGerald, Mike Lee, and Jim Crowell Comment on the Recent Changes in the Competitive Format

Dave Castro, the director of the CrossFit Games, hinted months ago that some changes were coming to the competitive structure of the next season. Last Thursday, November 30th, CrossFit HQ finally unveiled the full list of changes to the 2018 CrossFit Games series in a blog post.

Essentially, CrossFit is expanding the number of regionals events from eight to nine. They have brought back the Europe and Latin American Regionals and the United States Regionals have been consolidated down to five from ten.

Some Regionals, like the South-West, have remain virtually unchanged. While others, like Canada West have become even more competitive.

CrossFit Games Regional Changes

“These changes result in a more balanced distribution of Regional spots based on the growth in participation worldwide. The number of spots to the Games will still be 40 men, 40 women and 40 teams. The North American, European and Australasian Regionals will each send their top 5 from each division. The Meridian Regional will send four and Latin America will send one from each division.” - CrossFit Games HQ

With the internet abuzz with theories about the reasons behind these alterations, we thought we’d ask our own triumvirate of experts their thoughts; OPEX Founder James FitzGerald, CEO Jim Crowell, and Director of Remote Coaching Mike Lee.

Q. How Does this Affect our Regional Hopefuls both here in the United States and abroad?

James FitzGerald:  It means there are less spots up for grabs in other areas available. Our specific region (South-West) has not been affected, but other locations have become even more competitive than they were last year.

Mike Lee:  This doesn’t have any impact on our athletes in the south like Tennil Reed. However for other regions, like Canada-West, it has completely changed what the preparation must look like for the athlete to succeed. The actual competition itself has provided more or less qualifying spots in certain areas which in turn changes the amount of participants at regionals.

Q. Why do you think these changes were made?

James FitzGerald:  Purely for drama.  But I’d like to ask a different question; How many professional sports do you know of change their upcoming competitive season only 80 days before it begins? None. The fact that we are asking why this happened is the real issue, and it showcases the fact that the CrossFit HQ is not interested in developing the Games as a sport but rather as a entertaining show, that’s put on once a year.

Mike Lee:  Drama. CrossFit wishes to appear more “inclusive” of the entire population. There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason behind this decision. It’s all guesswork on their part to see if this format works and creates more “hype” around the CrossFit Open and create bigger regional turnouts.

Jim Crowell:  I think they did this to get more hype into strategic areas where growth can happen. This has 0% to do with a proper "competition." They want to grow around the world, and they are a media company, so they want to have "heroes" for those countries to rally around. More “figureheads” in these developing markets means more growth for CrossFit affiliates.

Q. Do you think these changes are positive or negative for the Sport?

James FitzGerald: Drama and scare tactics are transferable to likes and interest. It’s not a sport, it’s entertainment.

Mike Lee: What is the CrossFit Games truly anymore? It’s not a sport, it’s an entertainment show that HQ uses to increase awareness of CrossFit and build their brand. The sport is lost right now without true identity on what should be tested to truly find the best in mixed fitness.

Jim Crowell: From a business standpoint, it makes complete sense for CrossFit. This shift is a strategy to take part in and grow market share in these developing countries. The U.S. market is too saturated for CrossFit to continue growing.

Q. For athletes in an even more competitive region now, what's the advice as a coach?

James FitzGerald: Revisit why you are doing what you are doing, as well as how your training is helping you prepare for the different challenge and competition you will face this OPEN Season and the Regionals.

Mike Lee: Athletes need to develop clarity around the pathway and sport development (IR what it takes to be good in chaos). Athletes also need to be realistic as to where they sit in their new competitive field and develop expectations from these observations.

Q. If you’re looking for a ‘last minute’ edge what’s your advice to remote coaching clients?

James FitzGerald: Know why you are doing what you are doing.

Mike Lee:  The answer is there is NO last minute edge, continue with consistency and do not look for an easy route, there is not one. If this question is coming up in your mind then you are probably not prepared or have not done enough training. Falling in love with consistency in all aspects of training including lifestyle is the edge. Those that demonstrate this commitment have a chance to reach peak potential this competitive season.

Well, there you have it, straight from the horses mouth.

What do you think of the changes? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.