CrossFit Games

Help Wanted: Crafting Classifications for the CrossFit Games Adaptive Divisions

December 7, 2020 by
Photo credit: Alec Zirkenbach
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CrossFit is adding adaptive divisions to the 2021 CrossFit Open and CrossFit Games. While CrossFit is providing the same infrastructure as the “able-bodied” divisions to facilitate the competition, another team of adaptive athletes and trainers are working behind the scenes to ensure fair competition and they need help from the community.

Explain this, please: The first step in establishing a fair competition for numerous and various adaptive athletes is the creation of sport classification. 

  • Classification is the basis for creating a fair competition that will ultimately distinguish the top athlete (“Fittest in the World”) and not the “least disabled athlete.” 
  • Classification makes competition fair by determining which athletes are eligible to compete and how athletes are grouped together for competition. 
  • As of now, a classification system does not exist for the sport of CrossFit or functional fitness in general.

One big thing: The Adaptive Training Academy (ATA) has been charged with establishing athlete classification and is asking for community input in writing the classification system for CrossFit competitions. 

The details: There will be two open forum virtual conferences coming up in the next two weeks and anyone knowledgeable or experienced in the adaptive CrossFit community is welcome to provide insight and guidance. Forum dates and times:

  • Wednesday, December 9th, 8-9 AM PT
  • Thursday, December 17th, 9-10 AM PT
  • Register for the open forum

Photo credit: Bryson Buehrer

CrossFit competition vs. Paralympic competition: What makes classification for the sport of CrossFit far more difficult than paralympic sports is that CrossFit doesn’t have a specific (and not exhaustive) set of necessary skills like most sports do. CrossFit could be affectionately considered ‘the sport of anything and everything’, and that makes classification more challenging.

  • Paralympic sport classification is conducted through a three-step “Athlete Evaluation” that comprises procedures for the assessment of athletes, and then the determination of a Sport Class and Sport Class Status. 
  1. An athlete must have an underlying health condition that leads to a permanent “Eligible Impairment.” There are 10 “Eligible Impairments” for paralympic classification (ex: impaired muscle power, short stature).
  2. Athletes must meet the “Minimum Impairment Criteria” for a sport. Each Paralympic sport has a different set of “Minimum Impairment Criteria” whereas CrossFit will have one set of “Minimum Impairment Criteria.”
  3. A classification panel assesses which “Sport Class” the athlete belongs in. There are some sports that only have one “Sport Class,” like para powerlifting, but there are some that have up to 50 “Sport Classes” due to the complexity of the sport. CrossFit will initially have eight (8) “Sport Classes,” but will likely expand as more adaptive athletes participate in competitions.

The bottom line: If you are interested in helping craft the classifications within the new Adaptive Divisions of the CrossFit Open and Games, join the discussion and register to attend the two community forums.

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