“Better for Everyone,” and a Smart Business Decision: Coaches and Athletes React to 2024 Season Changes
“I think it’s a very good thing for the athletes and the sport in general” is how Underdogs Athletics coach Justin Cotler reacted to the news released on Tuesday that age group and adaptive athletes will no longer be included at the CrossFit Games.
2008 CrossFit Games champion and NCFIT owner Jason Khalipa said the same: “This will be good for the athletes and good for the sport. It will create opportunities to allow each division to reach its potential.”
Remind me: The first part of the 2024 season will be the same for age group divisions, but their end-of-season championship will now be the Legends Championship (Masters) and Pit Teen Throwdown (Teens). Meanwhile, the entire adaptive season will be hosted by the WheelWOD Games moving forward. This, of course, means, the CrossFit Games will feature only individual and team athletes.
What they’re saying: Giving the age group and adaptive athletes their own competition will go a long way in finally being able to focus the attention they deserve, say Cotler, Khalipa and seven-time Games athlete Kari Pearce.
- “We have seen in the last several years that the age group and adaptive divisions have been a bit of a side show at the Games. CrossFit simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to do every division justice. I think having dedicated competitions where the age groups and adaptive athletes can be the sole focus will be huge for them,” Cotler said.
- “The CrossFit Games were trying to be everything for everyone at the World Championships. And I think that for the adaptive (divisions) and the age group (divisions) to really truly reach their potential in terms of exposure, they need to have their own championship. They need to have their own time to shine. Otherwise, at times the individuals get most of the attention, and these other divisions don’t. And they deserve to receive the same amount of attention,” Khalipa offered.
- “For the masters, teens and adaptive (athletes) hopefully it allows them to get the attention they deserve by having a separate competition. They are all inspirational in their own way and I know there are many incredible stories amongst each group,” Pearce said.
Finally, long-time CrossFit Games coach and the owner of CrossFit New England pointed out it’s just a smart business decision on CrossFit LLC’s part.
- “While there is incredible passion for age groups and adaptive athletes, they are logistically challenging, essentially requiring two to three times the number of judges, volunteers and length of the venue rental at the Games without the additional partnership or ticket revenue to support it,” Bergeron explained.
- “So from a business perspective, especially with CrossFit retaining the registration fees from the Open, Quarterfinals and Semifinals this makes a lot of sense. And this is a compliment, not a knock. Finding ways to be more profitable is a good thing for those who love our sport as it brings greater opportunity for CrossFit to create more magic for the athletes and fans.”
One big thing: Michele Letendre, a six-time Games athlete and Pat Vellner’s long-time coach, thinks, if done with care, the change also has the potential to be especially valuable to help protect and groom teen athletes for long-term success.
- “I think this can lead to a more organized way of growing athletes into the sport, hopefully creating standards in training youth and avoiding burnout,” Letendre said.
The big picture: With age group and adaptive athletes no longer in the picture at the Games, CrossFit will also now be free to focus entirely on the individuals and teams. Cotler, Letendre and Pearce hope this will lead to an even better experience for the athletes, and ultimately help professionalize the sport.
- “The fact that the Games will solely focus on individuals and teams allows for a much more professional product and more storytelling opportunities for media and spectators,” Cotler said.
- “I’m excited to see if this allows some consistency in the schedule since things have been constantly changing from an athlete’s perspective. Plus maybe there is a potential for more flexibility with things like location,” Pearce said.
“For individuals and teams it’ll free up resources and help in correcting major issues such as media exposure, staff shortages and possible scheduling. It just makes sense,” Letendre said.