How We Would Fix The System (OPINION)

May 24, 2019 by and
This Greg Glassman quote lined the staircase underneath the coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center at the 2018 CrossFit Games.
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Background – Sean Woodland and Tommy Marquez, are the creators and hosts of the Talking Elite Fitness Podcast. They’ve covered the CrossFit Games and the broader CrossFit community as analysts, hosts, play by play announcers, color commentators, writers, and producers for the past nine seasons.

Broad sweeping changes are almost always met with some sort of backlash. The changes in the 2019 CrossFit Games season (and presumably beyond), were no exception. Every stage of the competition and every division was on the receiving end of large scale adjustments that significantly altered the course of action going forward.

As media personnel within the sport, the burning question we’ve gotten constantly is, “how could this format have been better?” Now that we’re seven months into the season, through the Open, and 12 of the 15 sanctioned events, it’s clear that adjustments are needed in the future to make the system sustainable in the Open, Sanctionals, and the Games.

But what if you had control, like, complete control? How would you build a better system assuming we can’t just Hulk Snap our way towards reversing all the original changes in the first place?

In our latest episode of Talking Elite Fitness, we answered that question. Each of us had slightly different takes on how we would run the season, but both in our opinion add value in ways that could greatly benefit the sport going forward. We’ve laid each of our systems out for you below.

Sean’s Season Changes

  • 2020 Open / Team Series
    • Redraw the Regional lines for a total of 10

      • 4 in U.S./Canada (North, South, East,
      • 1 in Mexico/South America (Latin
      • 2 in Europe (Europe West, Europe
      • 1 in Africa/Middle East
      • 1 in Asia
      • 1 in Australasia
    • Top 40 men and women and top 10 teams out of the Open/Team Series in each Region advance to their Regional Qualifier and qualify to participate in the CrossFit Games Grand Prix.
  • 2020 Sanctionals
    • Sanctionals are grouped according to their
      corresponding Region.

      • Examples:
        • Australasia (Australian CrossFit Championship, Down Under CrossFit Championship)
        • East (MACC, New Jersey, Wodapalooza)
        • Africa/Middle East (Dubai CrossFit Championship, Egypt, Fittest in Cape Town)
    • One Sanctional in each Region hosts the Regional Qualifier with the location rotating each year.
      • Example:
        • Top 40 men and women and top 10 teams in the East compete at the MACC one year, Wodapalooza the next and New Jersey after that
          • Top 3 men and women and winning team automatically advance to the CrossFit Games
    • Remaining Sanctionals comprise the CrossFit Games Grand Prix
      • Top 40 men and women and top 10 teams out of every Region in the Open/Team Series are qualified to participate in any Grand Prix events
      • Grand Prix events can determine their fields by any means of their choosing, but athletes must come from the qualifying pool from the Open.
      • Athletes receive points based on their overall finishes at the Grand Prix Events (100 points for a win, 94 for second, 88 for third, etc.)
      • Athletes who have already qualified to the Games via a Regional Qualifier can still participate in Grand Prix events, but they cannot earn points in the overall standings.
      • At the end of the Grand Prix season, the top 10 men and women and the top 5 teams in the points standings advance to the CrossFit Games.
  • 2020 CrossFit Games
    • 40 men, 40 women and 15 teams compete for the right to be called Fittest on Earth

Tommy’s Season Changes

  • 2019 Games
    • Top 10 Men and Women Get Automatic Sanctioned Event Qualifier Bye – “2020 Pro Card” – and if any athlete declares for an event and then withdraws, loss of card and exemption, and athlete gets only one more entry into an event (exceptions determined by event, and reason should be provided in a reasonable timeframe)
    • Declaration of intent to compete should be standardized amongst events and HQ based on timeframe
    • Make the seeding of athletes actually matter at the Games, and higher seeds will receive byes, and/or a reasonable advantage earned through competition
    • Podium Teams get their Pro Card with similar benefits
    • Team Rosters going forward in the season must include the 4 athletes from the Team Series to receive pro card benefits
  • 2020 Open/Team Series
    • Open stil determines Games’ seeding for all athletes, with Games seeding actually having an impact, encourages Open participation
    • Erase the Open as a direct qualifier for athletes in the top 20 worldwide
    • The top 30 National Champions Worldwide earn a spot at the Games – keeping a mix of international countries involved and creating a clear line for developing countries to shoot for each season.
    • Every National Champion will be required to compete in at least one sanctioned event prior to being granted entry to the Games
    • Top 200 Worldwide in the Open earn “Sanctioned Status” earning them a pass through 3 sanctioned event qualifiers, and requiring them to declare intent to events subject to the events time window stated above.
    • If any Sanctioned Status athlete/team for any reason, commits to and then withdraws from an event, for any reason, that pass is lost. You’ve got 3, so there’s leeway.
    • From the Team Series, the Top 40 Teams get “Sanctioned Status”
    • Videos of every workout, must be provided for review in order to earn National Champion spot, or sanctioned status
    • National Champion spots will be backfilled based on the leaderboard. Example: if 30th place Nat’l Champ gets penalized and the new champion placed lower than the 31st place country (prior to the penalty), then 31st place will get the backfill
    • The rest of the world can get to sanctioned events through their online qualifiers.
  • 2020 Sanctionals
    • Half the elite field comes from invites (Pro Card, Sanctioned Status), the rest from qualifiers, including other divisions and teams as needed by the event
    • The field size, programming, and all other logistics are handled by the event as usual.
    • Each Sanctional will send one man, one woman, and one team to Games, spots will be backfilled to the highest placing athlete or team that does not already have a spot to the Games.
    • A point system is in place that determines who gets the 6 wild card invites (2 each division), points are accrued over the season through placement at sanctioned events. Points earned at an event will be based on placement, and will follow a 100-0 points table adjusted for the number of athletes in the field.
  • 2020 Games
    • 62 Men, 62 Women, and 32 Teams will compete at the CrossFit Games for the title of Fittest on earth
    • After day one of the Competition, the field will be cut to 40 men/women, and 20 Teams, and point scale will be adjusted to match field size. Will always remain 100-0

Note: We both had very different takes on a potential new system, but agreed after our podcast that there were some elements in both that could be adopted across both platforms. Both of these systems are Version 1.0 so feel free to poke holes, offer suggestions, or provide feedback on what you like or don’t like!

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