Friday, March 9, 2012

The Difference Between Being Competent and Caring (And Why HQ Needs To Figure Out Some Shit Real Fast)

That title's so long I had to take my shirt off while reading it.

Here's the thing: people think CrossFit HQ doesn't care, and that's just plain false.  I'm convinced that most of the people that work for CrossFit actually do want it to be everything that they promise it to be.  I'm also convinced that they're all incredibly incompetent.  There're plenty of things going on in the High Council of CrossFit (or whatever Budding, Castro, and Glassman call themselves during their meetings) that I could talk about, but let's be honest: it's all about The Games.  So here are a few ways HQ can go from being miserably bad at their jobs to at least being marginally adequate.

Limit the impact of self-reported scores.

People cheat.  Lemme correct that actually: lots of people cheat.  It's not always in the form of faking scores, although that's certainly happening.  It's mostly in the form of shitty judging and questionable standards.  This is not news, but the problem here is that nothing is being done to limit what is clearly a major issue with the current qualification process.  Even worse, HQ knows that people are cheating and their only response is usually along the lines of "Well, we're only interested in finding the Fittest on Earth, and Rich and Annie are pretty much at the top of the pile, so therefore the system is working".  By saying they only care about finding the Fittest on Earth, HQ is saying they don't care at all about the 99.9% of CrossFitters that'll never win any competitions.

So how do you fix this?  Require video submissions for the top scores on every workout.  How do you define "top scores"?  Well, if you look at 12.3 and think to yourself "yea, I'm pretty sure I'll get 15 rounds", then record some fucking video of your workout.  If you look at 12.3 and have to ask someone "what's a bartoe?" then you're off the hook, and you don't have to sweat it.

Add in another round to the qualification process.

So the Open replaced Sectionals because the pool of competitors grew too large.  Sure, that's cool, I can see how that solves the problem, but now we've got another problem: the cut from the Open to Regionals is too big.

The SoCal Region has more than 3,000 people which means that only about the top 2% will make it to the Regionals.  That's great and all, but with only three rounds in the CrossFit Games, we're missing out on testing potential competitors.

The NFL has four rounds of playoffs: Wildcard, Divisionals, Championships, and the Super Bowl.  Right now, CrossFit basically has the Wildcard (the Open), the Championships (Regionals), and the Super Bowl (the Games).  So why not add in a fourth round between the Open and a Regionals Round 1?  Take the top 8% of performers in the Open from each region to compete in the first round of Regionals (which is an in-person, weekend long, real competition), then take the top performers from within that region to the Regionals Round 2.

This is a win-win situation: by adding in a new round, we add more credibility to CrossFit as a sport by limiting the impact of cheating cheaters cheating their way into Regionals, HQ will make more money through registration fees and ticket sales, and Reebok makes more money through apparel and accessory sales.

Advance the best in the world, not the best in each region.

Lastly, since everyone is doing the same workouts at every level of the competition, why not actually take the best in the world to the Games?  Here's how it would look:

  • Everyone participates in the Open and gets ranked regionally.  

  • The top 8ish% of performers and the best cheaters make it from the Open to the first round of Regionals, an actual, real life, properly judged competition.

  • The top 30 or 50 or 60 or whatever from Regionals Round 1 make it to Regionals Round 2, where they compete against everyone in the world, not everyone in their Region.

  • Finally, all the scores from Regionals Round 2 are pooled and ranked and the top 50 from that ranking are invited to the Games.

What'll this accomplish?  First, it'll actually mean that the best in the world are competing at the Games.  Second, it'll get rid of the whole bottleneck issue at some of the Regions (think Central East, where the men have to compete against Rich Froning, Dan Bailey, and Graham Holmberg for a spot).  Third, when 84% of the 2018 CrossFit Games competitors are washed up Chinese gymnasts and weightlifters, HQ can just go back to the way things are right now to make sure some American former baseball players can make it to the Games again.

this is a pretty awesome photo.
Also, I just wanted to thank all of you for reading and spreading this around.  I'm right at 1,000 likes on my Facebook page, I've published more than 100 posts (this is number 102!), and you've made my podcast (The Wodcast Podcast) into a pretty great success!  You've all been pretty sweet...except for a handful of you who are huge assholes (you know who you are, so keep it up!).


  1. I like the idea of there being a second round of Regional competitions. The idea of seeing competitors from all regions compete would be pretty thrilling cause it like a pre-games event. How great would the finals be having the BEST of the Best competing against each other regardless of region. It'd be interesting to see what region would qualify the most competitors into the Finals! Love your thinking on this one Armen! I would call the round after the Open something else but that can be sorted out easily.

  2. "Limit the impact of self-reported scores" - It's been stated elsewhere...the Open is the most efficient way of casting the widest net and getting the top competitors to Regionals. If you're on the fence on making it to the next round (sitting at 55th-60th) and then a cheater bumps you out of rank then, yes, that sucks. But you didn't have a great chance of making it to the Games anyways. There is no perfect system here and you're suggested "solution" just creates more of a headache. Trust me, even if what you wanted was implemented...people like you would find a way to criticize it and punch wholes in the plan.

    "HQ is saying they don't care at all about the 99.9% of CrossFitters that'll never win any competitions" - The CrossFit Games is NOT CFHQ. It is their TEST to find the fittest humans on the planet. They are not one in the same. What you said is simply untrue and invalidates a lot of your arguments.

    "Add in another round to the qualification process." - This might very well happen. It's just unnecessary right now.

    "Advance the best in the world, not just the best in the region." - The workouts are consistent across the world. The venues, weather, and judging are not. You think athletes competing "Amanda" in Denver at 8,000ft in overcast 60 degrees can be compared to performing it at sea level in San Diego at 75 degrees? For someone calling HQ Staff incompetent, I'm surprised you didn't catch this.

    Basically, all of your points have been brought to HQ's attention and they've come back with the best possible solution for each scenario. You come across pretty arrogant in thinking you've solved all these "problems" and ways to "make it better". Just my 2c.

  3. Disagree with some of the latter points. I know you think it's fair to take top in the world and disregard people from other regions. Well a lot of people from other regions (especially outside the US) have limited equipment and access to crossfit gyms. Therefore it's provides a unique disadvantage to that athlete. I look at CrossFit almost like an Olympic sport. Which, when you think about it, it's a combination of all. Where you take people from all these different countries to compete with each other and provides an extra level of excitement. I think regardless of the standards the top men and women will still come out on top. Adding the regionals makes it fair.

    1. I think we should include Grammar in the games.

    2. That's all you've got? Wow.

    3. Regarding the Games being like the Olympics, I think that's an interesting analogy. Say the qualifying heats for the 100m sprint were based on country, rather than time. So heat 1 was all the Americans, heat 2 was all the Jamaicans, and heat 3 was the rest of the world. And only 2 could advance from each heat. Would the final 6 be the 6 fastest sprinters in the world? No. The third fastest American or Jamaican could very well be faster than the top 2 sprinters from the "rest of the world" heat. You couldn't truly call that final race a competition to determine the fastest 100m sprinter. But this is exactly how the Games is set up (though on a larger scale), and I think that's Armen's point. If you expand the first cut and have a second round of Regionals with all the competitors ranked against each other, you would end up with a final group for the Games that really is made up of the fittest on Earth, even if they were all from the same region.

  4. Zach, speaking of not one and the same:

    you're and your
    wholes and holes
    "not one in the same" and "not one and the same"

    By bringing all the problems out in the open (no pun intended), CF will keep improving. Like they did this year after last year's hosting-server fiasco. One can only hope they will eventually fix the cheaters problem, the bad judging, the scoring inconsistencies/bottlenecks, etc.

    Defending CF's bad aspects is not going to achieve this so let awesome Armen tell it like it is.

  5. I better darn well be one of those "huge a**holes" you are talking about. If not, after I return from iceland for my cold weather training, and after I bust out 1230, and i could do more if i wanted to, on 12.3, me and Scandinavian champ Bjorn Von Schmeckleschlong are coming to kick your arse!



  6. Budding is an ahole.

  7. I think the bigger problem for CFHQ is that people like myself who won't every make it to the games and won't cheat…but I pay my $20 to see how I compare to the rest of the world…won't bother doing it again because so many people are cheating, including people and gyms I know. It's not even a real representation of how I compare across the board. So for the 59,940 people who won't make it…waste of $.

  8. Alright NakedXFitter, usually I am with you but on this one I think you are missing the forest for the trees...

    You stated the biggest problem right up front:

    "let's be honest: it's all about The Games"

    Is crossfit about bringing fitness to (as you say) the 99.9%? Or is it a professional sporting organization for the .1%? There are really obvious reasons why the NBA does not (and should not) trademark and control the sport of basketball. Likewise for any other respectable sport.

    Is HQ selling a fitness product or an entertainment product? If HQ really cares about fitness then it should get back to supporting the affiliates and designing functional training protocols. Fix the cert machine and raise the quality of the product offered to the average customer.

    A worldwide open competition does nothing to improve the training that the average crossfitter receives. It is a marketing boondoggle for an organization that is now driven by the entertainment media products.

    Secondly, with regard to the credibility of the games - clean up all the incestuous relationships! The majority of the top athletes are sponsored by the same corporation that sponsors HQ. How do we think Reebok (and therefore HQ) would feel if everyone on the podium was sponsored by Rogue?

    Froning is having his workouts judged by Castro - THE GUY WHO CHOOSES THE FUCKING WORKOUTS! Now I'm not saying that Rich's scores are inflated, and I'm not saying that the WODs are intentionally fixed...I'm just saying its a fishy situation and eventually it will get ugly, even if those relationships are entirely innocent to date.

    You wouldn't trust David Stern to referee the NBA finals, and that is a competition for which the parameters of the competition are fixed. HQ has the power to swing the entire competition based on the workouts they choose. The people choosing the WODs should have absolutely no access to the individual athletes and no knowledge of their individual strengths and weaknesses.

  9. Lame conspiracy theory. HQ has only noble intentions. It's like saying If Reebok wanted someone tall to win the games, they'd tell HQ to program a bunch of wods with height-biased tasks, like wall balls and rowing. Oh...wait...

  10. How does CF or ReeBok, or whoever, actually choose the events and their order? As long as there isn't transparency, the Games will be a joke.

  11. If anyone thinks that the potential for "fixing" the games with exercise selection for the purpose of promoting HQ isn't prevelant, then they are naive.