An Open Letter to Everyone Doing the Open Without “Doing” The Open (OPINION)

October 25, 2019 by
Photo courtesy of CrossFit, Inc.
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I’ll start out by throwing all my perceived biases out into the open: I love CrossFit, since I started back in 2011 I’ve participated in the Open, I’ve worked for HQ and several sanctioned events, and I’m generally a pretty opinionated lady. I totally respect other people’s decisions when it comes to what kind of physical activities they participate in, and how much they decide to push or scale their efforts. And I generally like everyone. 

But I’ve been frustrated this Fall, because I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I’m not signing up for the Open this year.”  Typically, it’s followed up by a list of reasons why the changes to this past season have left them personally victimized, unable to cope with the new landscape, and reeling from the PTSD-like effects of the most recent Spring Open. Oh yeah, and it’s usually wrapped with a casual, “I’m doing the workouts, I just won’t actually sign up for the Open.”

I can’t eye-roll hard enough. 

Look, there are plenty of good reasons out there to refrain from actually committing to the open. Maybe you’re unable to make the time commitment necessary to get the workouts done. Maybe you can’t meet any of the requirements for the RX or Scaled divisions, maybe you’re injured. Maybe you’re on the next one-way mission to Mars. 

Regardless, this opinion piece isn’t about the many worthwhile reasons to stay off the leaderboard this year. This is about refuting the argument that the changes to the structure of the CrossFit Games and its season has a direct bearing on how and why we, as the general population, should approach registering for the Open. 

So here’s what I’ve heard:

  • “I can’t believe Regionals are gone. That was my ticket to Games.” Oh, have you not heard? Although the exact number could vary because of invites, backfills, verficiations, etc. there are more individual spots available through the Open to earn a spot to compete at the next stage of competition (Sanctionals) this year, than there were Regionals spots available in 2018. So if Games was your goal, and you were using the Open to try to get to Regionals to then qualify for the finals…. This Fall’s Open should be your main focus for your best shot.  
  • “I can’t believe Regionals are gone. That was my main goal.” The disparity between first and 40th place at regionals was always astounding. You had to be an incredible athlete to qualify for regionals. And a superhuman athlete to make it to the podium and follow through to Games. For that reason, I understand that for a lot of individual athletes Regionals was the “Fitness Mecca” of sorts. And if it seems as though the Sanctionals field runs deeper than previous Regionals ones – the dream of qualifying may feel farther away than ever. But if that’s the case, then the introduction of several non-elite divisions across Sanctioned events around the world should be a cause for celebration! Not an excuse to forego the Open. Big events like Wodapalooza, Granite Games, and so many more have opened up divisions for intermediate athletes, scaled athletes, adaptive athletes, masters athletes, and more to make the competition scene more inclusive than ever. SO if your goal was to make it to Regionals “just to make it to Regionals,” and you weren’t eyeing the podium as a reasonable or attainable goal, sign up for an intermediate division and strive for a different kind of greatness. P.S. – 13 Sanctionals are using the Open as qualifiers right now. 
  • “I don’t want to give CrossFit my $20.” Why? Because this year has been different? Confusing? Full of change? Because we’re still trying to figure out the best way to make our competitive training into a sport? Look, the changes that we’ve seen have affected me personally in a lot of the work that I do as a sideline reporter, and has affected a lot of my friends who have lost jobs, etc. And that definitely makes me feel some kinda way. But at the end of the day, I want CrossFit to thrive. Because I love this training methodology, I love this community, I love the athletes who are making careers out of this sport, and I love the athletes who show up to take my classes at my local affiliate. The work we do changes peoples’ lives. It helps them get healthy, live longer, make friends, and feel good. The money we pay to participate in the Open helps keep that dream alive in so many different ways. Funding CrossFit operations, events, health initiatives, and more. I’m not saying we haven’t had a rough go at things while we try to figure all of this out. What I am saying is, I don’t want this thing to die. I want to support it. So here, here’s my $20. What about yours?
  • “My box is hosting an intramural Open instead.” I LOVE the idea of an intramural Open. My best and favorite Open experiences have come from intramural competitions at my local box. Team spirit adds horsepower, it’s science. But I don’t understand why the ideas of the CrossFit Open and an Intramural Open are mutually exclusive. The same community-building principles that make an intramural Open so successful apply to the Open as a whole. Participation matters. Support matters. Even friendly competition matters, whether it’s you vs. someone else or you vs. you. All of that applies to the Open regardless of your athletic end-goals. Just because you aren’t trying to make it to Games doesn’t make the official Open a less worthwhile experience. And signing up for the Open doesn’t render an intramural competition at your box less valuable. Do both! 
  • “I’m still not recovered from the last Open.” Yes you are. That was 8 months ago. You train 3+ times a week. Just stop it. 
  • “I’m not [strong/fast/big/small/insert fitness-related adjective here] enough.” Okay, this reasoning isn’t specific to this year’s Open. This is one of those statements I hear every year. But I wanted to include it here just to reiterate how much the Open is for everyone. The season is for everyone. CrossFit is for everyone. We get into the weeds on all of this stuff because we love this sport and we like to nerd out on how it operates and how it’s growing and evolving. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But let’s not allow the chatter to deter people from the beauty of what we’re doing here. You are enough. Right now. Not in a year, not once you lose the weight, not when you get stronger. You are enough right now to achieve all of your goals. Never forget that. 

Now, keep in mind that my opinions here are reserved for individual athletes only. Circumstances around how teams prepare and qualify for Games are looking very different these days, and that’s worth mentioning. From what constitutes as a “team” vs. a “roster,” to new rules around athletes competing as individuals AND on teams  – that landscape is looking rockier than the Himalayas these days. That’s yet another op-ed for a different day. But when it comes to individual athletes and the decision to participate in this new spooky-season Open based solely on the changes made to this past year…. the answer is, at least to me, pretty clear. 

Sign up for the Open. 

Before you tell me I’ve drank the Kool-aid because I’ve done freelance work for HQ and I’ve conducted sideline interviews with athletes at Sanctioned events, let me just say that yes, I’ve done this type of work for a while now. And I absolutely love it. But I also spent a big part of my career as a journalist, I work full-time in marketing, and I spend my free time in a local affiliate coaching classes and helping new members get acclimated to the box. I’m a member of this community, just like anyone else, with opinions that are all my own. I know there are plenty of people out there who will disagree with this. People who have sworn off the Open forever. And that’s fine. I’m willing to hear those folks out. But I’ll probably have the same response to all of them:

If you’re a CrossFitter, which means you always/somewhat/once in a while/periodically attend CrossFit classes or participate in CrossFit training… sign up for the Open. There’s no downside to participating in a worldwide celebration of fitness that helps us establish the pathway to showcasing the Fittest on Earth while getting healthier ourselves and becoming more connected to the community around us… regardless of how the season is structured. 

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