Opportunity For All, Eric Roza’s New Approach For The Sport

November 13, 2020 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit LLC (instagram.com/crossfit/)

During Eric Roza’s interview on the Talking Elite Fitness podcast Wednesday, there was a common theme amongst the host of developments and potential concepts laid out by CrossFit LLC’s new owner and CEO.

The future of the sport of fitness will include more opportunity for everyone. 

Included in the mix were some interesting ideas and much needed new avenues for athletes, sponsors, and fans to increase engagement in the sport beyond the scope of the current CrossFit Games seasson system and its predecessor.

More divisions, more ways to compete: One of the long-awaited additions to the CrossFit Games season was the inclusion of an adaptive athlete division, which Roza officially confirmed was on its way starting with the 2021 Open along with some potential new filters.

  • Roza: “We are really psyched to say and I don’t think we announced this yet, but we are doing the work so that we are able to have separate adaptive athlete categories in the Open….I’m just getting educated on this there are a lot of different categories of adaptive athletes and so I can’t say we’re going to nail it the first time around but we’re going to make steps in the right direction”
  • The old college try: While discussing the increasing number of affiliates tied to colleges and universities around the globe, Roza teased the idea of having some divisions or filters for students, and a potential filter for athletes to list their alma mater during the open to connect with fellow alumni. 

When the sport was at its peak in 2018 participation in the Open was at an all-time high. Inclusivity has always been the spirit of the Open, and the adaptive athlete divisions have been a long time coming, but this expanded scope of thinking with regards to competitive options is absolutely necessary for the sport to grow and evolve to meet global demands.

  • Roza also detailed new potential competition stages, both in-season and off-season that could help bolster participation and competitive fervor in the community, such as a regional specific competition for national champions to compete against each other, or adding an additional step to narrow the global field down after the Open. 
  • “We’re thinking how can more people who want to do this for the competitive aspect, push forward even if they’re not at the most elite levels,” Roza said.

With regards to events and sponsors Roza specifically addressed the terminology of calling Sanctionals “event partners,” and referring to sponsors as “partners,” with the distinction being CrossFit taking a more proactive role in supporting both groups with a mutual exchange of value beyond just money which includes increased opportunity for involvement.

  • For event partners, Roza explicitly stated that HQ providing support in the form of higher quality media, infrastructure, and leveraging sponsorship partners to help events would better support their long-term success and impact on the sport.
  • For the future of sponsors, Roza revealed that “it is likely but not certain that we will have a title sponsor for the Games in 2021 and beyond,” in addition to opening the door for multiple, competing brands to have an official seat at the table simultaneously within the ecosystem. 
  • Roza: “I think it is possible that the title sponsor will be a footwear company but it may not be, others have expressed interest, and I also think it’s very likely that we will have one or more strategic footwear partnerships, independent of whether those are title sponsors.”

This is huge: The 2020 CrossFit Games signaled the end of a decade-long sponsorship deal between CrossFIt and Reebok, and while Reebok has had a significant part of the growth of the sport, over the past decade the reach and influence of the CrossFit brand has created a e-commerce platform healthy enough to support more brands. A prime example of this is the emergence of companies like WIT Fitness, that successfully collaborate with all the top brands in the space.

  • CrossFit is not a monolithic brand and a broadened perspective on partners at all levels is something Roza believes will pay huge dividends across the board.

“I think great partners will bring more money into the sport, bring more credibility into the sport, and create new opportunities, not just for CrossFit itself and the pro athletes who make their living with this competing, but also for affiliates and gym members and folks who become CrossFit coaches and so on, will all benefit from the partnerships that we drive.”

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