Dave Castro On The Games Future: “The Sky Is The Limit”
Ten days ago current CrossFit Inc. CEO Dave Castro joined the Talking Elite Fitness podcast for an interview where he opened up to share some of his thoughts on a variety of things including the current climate within the CrossFit community and the changes that CrossFit Inc. was going through as a result of the ownership change. In the latter half of the podcast, Castro touched upon some of the protocol being put into place for the 2020 Games, as well as the future of the sport and some potential changes that the season format could see going forward under the new regime.
This year’s Games include a COVID-19 plan being developed by the CrossFit Games medical team and includes guidance by the General Manager of the CrossFit Games Justin Bergh. The plan includes testing athletes prior to arrival and being exposed to staff and other athletes as well as testing throughout the competition.
- The athlete hotel will be a “clean area,” and athletes will be transported accordingly to and from the competition at the Ranch in Aromas each day for their events with proper social distancing guidelines being maintained as well.
Castro also revealed that on a zoom call earlier in the week with the invited athletes that there wouldn’t be any cuts during the competition. The field of 30 men, and 30 women has already been drastically cut down due to the pandemic restrictions.
- Castro: “On a call with the athletes, I told them there was going to be no cuts, because I really want them to feel the entirety of the weekend, and the pain.”
- Castro also added that the decision for no cuts wasn’t fully set in stone due to him still finishing the process of programming the Games for the new location in Aromas, but that he was leaning more towards having no cuts.
Regarding the current season structure Castro revealed that he wasn’t a fan of the way the season was currently laid out and that some improvements could be made — lamenting the innumerable yet confusing ways that people could qualify, and the seemingly diluted fitness level of those deemed Games athletes as a result.
- Castro: “Going forward I think we’d clean it up and make it more relatable, understandable, clean, clean for fans, clean for athletes…how many different ways could athletes get to the Games? Too many.”
- “We’re testing to find the fittest man and woman alive and we test work capacity across broad time and modal domains, and we should select people by the best work capacity across broad time and modal domains. And it should be really hard, and it should be really exclusive.”
- He acknowledged some good additives from the Sanctional system, and noted that some discussions were needed on how to best utilize what he saw were positives from the old and current systems to find some sort of hybrid that would best suit the sport moving forward.
Castro later confirmed sentiments about Roza and his interests in re-establishing the Games presence in the media and exposing the sport to a wider audience through all available platforms including documentaries, network broadcasts, and live streaming. When questioned about it, he expressed excitement about Roza’s interest in the sport and confirmed that having the CrossFit Games back on the television could be a possibility in the near future.
Castro also teased some exciting new possibilities for future iterations of the sport for athletes and members of the community regardless of fitness level, as well as providing some interesting new perspective on why some immediate shifts — such as moving the Open back to its original time frame at the front of the calendar year – makes sense.
- Having the Open in February means the sport provides a greater value to the affiliate system at the participatory level. With the new year, there is a renewed motivation and fervor for health and training, and a broad-scale event like the Open gives affiliate members incentive for training.
- “The Open isn’t about the Games athletes, the Open is about the community, and that’s what we have to get back and that’s what we have to remind the world of. The Open is about the affiliates, not the .001%, but everyone else.”
- There would also be more competition opportunities, which includes events for both the elite athletes of the sport as well as athletes of all fitness levels and age groups. Castro explicitly included a “tournament,” and “off-season,” competition opportunities as well in his description which paints a broader more diverse sport that could potentially include efforts from both sanctioned and non-sanctioned events.
- A possible ranking system could be included in this, with Castro revealing that the Open could effectively be used to give an athlete a ranking each year that would dictate what divisions they could compete at various events throughout the year, and each year would incentivize athletes to participate in the Open as well.
The sport is in need of a boost following declining participatory numbers in each of the past two seasons, the looming potential economic issues at the affiliate level from the recent pandemic. A fresh take on the sport, mixed with some of the known elements from the past that helped grow the sport could help get things back on track.