The CrossFit Games As Athletic Competition: A Strongman’s Perspective

Author’s note: This article is based on the CrossFit Games as an athletic competition, not a methodology of training.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

I spent the past four days enthralled by the Reebok CrossFit Games. In 12 years the sport has grown from a backyard contest thrown on a ranch to a spectacle of strength, speed, and endurance. When you watch the Games, you are seeing the future; a glimpse of sports and how they are presented. Powerlifting, strongman, and weightlifting should pay attention or else get left behind.

The Broadcast

I have had the pleasure of competing at strongman as a pro and, later, broadcasting the event on pay per view live streams at the biggest events the sport has. From a production angle, the contest was free all weekend and it pulled in huge numbers of viewers. The broadcast was first rate with great graphics, well spoken, knowledgeable announcers, endless camera angles, and very few breaks in the action.

Being a live stream, I was able to watch the Games in HD wherever I was. On Sunday, I watched the second to last event with my phone on the bar of the Sea Shack Restaurant, using their WIFi. I didn’t have to ask anyone to change the station or find it on my channel guide. At times, my feed was showing 60,000 concurrent viewers. As of Monday morning, the finals had over two million views on the Facebook rebroadcast. Having a major sporting event available wherever you are is necessary today to grow your fans. Making it easy to watch is even better. The quality this year was a home run and well worth the cost to the sponsors.

The Events

Gone were any “goofy” events that seemed nonsensical. Everything was a challenge of endurance or strength or a great match of the two.

The events flowed incredibly well and there was little pause taken to reset the equipment and keep the action flowing. This added a complete feel of major sporting event and professionalism that is necessary for eyes to stay tuned in. They were also exciting and fast paced. While the first two days featured running, swimming, and biking, there was some great head to head action on some of the heats and it was surprising to see Toomey and Fraser do so well on those.

The Athletes

Much respect to these finely tuned biomechanical machines. The favorites showed up in shape and ready to impress. Watching the snatch and power cleans, I felt as if I was in the warm up room at international weightlifting event. The techniques were clean and executed with precision. There were no cringe worthy moments due to poor execution and that makes a great impression to the specialists of those disciplines.

The volume of work performed over four days was absolutely amazing, a true testament to how well prepared these people are for virtually anything. The eventual winners have  both competed in weightlifting at an elite level, and that is a nod to how much full body strength that type of training will develop. While Fraser walked away with his win (proving he is literally in a league of his own), Toomey had a hard fought battle against women who can out-lift, run, and jump almost every man on the face of the Earth. People love to see the incredible, and it was there all weekend.

I may sound like I am in love with CrossFit (or the Games more specifically), but I am actually beyond impressed. In a decade, a new sport has been born, evolved and shown us what potential there is for human strength and endurance. The contests are now exciting and most importantly marketed correctly. I believe there is a lesson here for all promoters and athletes that illustrates one important characteristic; quality. There is no other sport in this category that looks as good as this one, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Featured image: @tiaclair1 on Instagram

Michael Gill

Michael Gill

Weight training is in the blood of BarBend contributor Mike Gill. Learning how to lift as part of his conditioning for Jr. High School wrestling fueled a passion that has lasted now for 35 years. He has a background in all weight disciplines and has competed in Bodybuilding, Powerlifting and Weightlifting eventually finding his niche and turning professional in the sport of Strongman. Retired from competition, he now focuses on coaching and applying events from the most versatile weight discipline to other sports. His vast knowledge of Strongman has been highlighted in his work as a color commentator for live broadcasts of the Arnold World Championships, National Amateur Championships, World’s Strongest Man Over 40 and World’s Strongest Woman.Not limiting himself to just working with weights, Mike has used his decades of discipline to work as a life coach and speaker. Additionally he can often be seen in New York City as a stand up comic.He can be reached for coaching at Michaelgill100 [at], @prostrongman on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, and on Facebook.

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