Return of the Super Teams in 2023?
Something initially lost in the shuffle of the announced changes from CrossFit regarding the 2023 season was the qualification process for teams. Based on what was initially released, it appears the strict eligibility requirements for the team division that were put in place prior to the 2021 season have been dramatically altered allowing the return of the “Super Teams”.
There’s not much in terms of details but the latest edition of CrossFit’snewsletter “The Hopper”, states:
- “Anyone can join an affiliate’s team as long as each athlete performs all the Open tests at the affiliate’s physical location.”
The details: Based on just that statement and without any further information until the official 2023 rulebook is released in November, it appears that anyone can be placed on a team as long as they follow the following criteria:
- Only CrossFit affiliates in good standing may register a team.
- To verify an athlete’s eligibility, teams must be able to provide video evidence of each team member performing all the Open tests at their team’s affiliate.
- Teams that qualify for the Quarterfinals will be required to designate six athletes (three men/three women) for their competitive roster for the remainder of the season.
Why it matters: The term “Super Teams” was made popular during the 2018 season with the formation of the Don’t Stop team which included past individual athletes Travis Williams, Jordan Cook, Sheila Barden and Rachel Garibay. Then 2019 saw an explosion of Super Teams formed and competing at the Games. The 2020 season doubled-down and featured even more “Super Teams” before the team competition was canceled at the Games due to the global pandemic.
- There was some backlash from the community regarding that the team championship, the Affiliate Cup, was no longer about the affiliates and the community.
- CrossFit answered with the implementation of stricter rules and criteria for the 2021 season to essentially eliminate the Super Teams.
- General Manager of Sport for CrossFit Justin Bergh alluded to simplifying the eligibility requirements for the team division during the latest episode of Games Central after a 2022 season that saw a number of teams disqualified due to misinterpretation of the rules for team eligibility.
- Some of those requirements consisted of living within 100 miles of the affiliate, keeping training logs and records to show the athletes were dedicating a certain amount of time training at the affiliate, ie: being an “active member”.
- With what has been released, athletes competing on a team need to simply participate at the affiliate they are associated with for the Open and corresponding qualifying stages of the Games season. There are no distance requirements or “active member” requirements.
- Dex Hopkins has made two appearances at the Games on a team, appearing at the 2015 and 2017 Games with his affiliate team CrossFit Maximus before qualifying for the Games in 2020 with the ROMWOD MeatSquad “Super Team”. When asked about the changes he stated, “I think the return to the wild Wild West takes a lot of the weird advantages off the table. Not everyone can give people a salary job or etc. to come be on their team. So this ‘levels’ the playing field, so to speak.
- “I like the Open in that affiliate clause,” said Hopkins. “Again, love the moves to drive people to the affiliate again. But, I definitely see it as a positive. No holds barred, “You vs. me and the revolution.”
- Christian Harris, who was a teammate of Hopkins on that ROMWOD MeatSquad “Super Team” and also a two-times Games qualifier on a team, had a different opinion on the rule changes.
- “A bit frustrating in the sense that I’ve been doing my due diligence to scout talent, etc. to have ‘affiliate teams’ in accordance with previous years rules,” said Harris. “It would be nice to see some level of consistency from year to year.”
- “Just when you think you have things figured out, they keep you guessing,” said Harris. “I’ll wait until November when the official rule book comes out.”
The bottom line: With the supposed retirement of Rich Froning from team competition after this past year’s Games, the team division is without their true superstar and bankable team in CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. This past year’s CrossFit Reykjavik team also brought attention to the division due to the star power surrounding it. The division needs new contenders and stars to keep interest, the “Super Teams” bring that element to the division.