Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 30, 2015 — A crossroads

For much of this week, blogs and at least one Reddit thread were abuzz about the results of the World Crossfit Games in Los Angeles.

But the focus was not on the winners. Instead, the focus was on the major injuries that were suffered by the competitors not only at the finals, but even the preliminary regional events held around the country.

Crossfit is a type of fitness training that is not for the faint of heart or the weak of spirit. It is practiced in facilities around the country and around the world, and combines calisthenics, weightlifting, and agility and speed training. 

Many swear by its results. At least four people I got to know through field hockey are hardcore practitioners. All four were selected to represent the U.S. at some point in their field hockey careers.

Crossfit participants have turned their love of tough exercise into a competitive sport. Herein is the problem. As time has gone on, the exercises have gotten tougher, and the nature of the events are not revealed to the competitors until just before the start of each individual event.

That’s a little like turning the Olympic shotput into a game of bocce or into a free throw shooting contest five minutes before the event starts.

This kind of system, based on the kind of unpredictability you might find in current reality TV, makes a farce of then concept of “competition.” 

The beauty of many sports and games is that they are timeless. Baseball is predicated on throwing a five-ounce ball from a distance of 60 feet, six inches, and four bases 90 feet apart. It has been that way basically since the days of Alexander Cartwright. 

The football gridiron is still 120 yards long and 54 yards wide after more than a century. Outdoor lacrosse uses a goal that remains six feet tall and six feet wide.

Basketball’s target is still a circle 30 centimeters wide and ten feet off the ground. Only the goal is made out of nylon cord attached to a metal hoop instead of being a peach basket.

There have been a number of extreme athletic competitions over the years which have tested the limits of human beings. There was the Eliminator round of the American Gladiators, the obstacle course on American Ninja Warrior, and the various obstacle courses on the show Wipeout. For the most part, contestants knew the obstacles beforehand and knew what they were getting into.

Crossfit, however, is a series of moving targets set by organizers with little or no oversight by any governing body.

And it’s led to some of the dangerous injuries and heat-related illnesses of last weekend.


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