More Questions Than Answers With Rumored CrossFit Games Changes

Bethany Shadburne during the Marathon Row at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.
Bethany Shadburne during the Marathon Row at the 2018 CrossFit Games. Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

By now you have likely heard about the rumored changes to the CrossFit Games. I say rumored as there has not yet been an official statement by CrossFit detailing the changes.

For those who haven’t heard yet, Greg Glassman has been reported as leaking the structure of the CrossFit Games going forward.

According to Glassman, Regionals will no longer exist. To qualify for the CrossFit Games, an athlete could qualify directly from the CrossFit Open or through one of 16 CrossFit-sanctioned events. Some have rumored that these sanctioned events would include competitions like Wodapalooza, Dubai Fitness Championship, etc. What is interesting, however, is that we are hearing that CrossFit HQ has not reached out to the organizers of these existing competitions.

So it is unclear if Glassman is thinking they would create 16 new competitions to facilitate this vision. If it really costs $1 million to run the Latin America Regional, it seems unlikely CrossFit would want to run 16 of those rather than the current nine regional competitions. If the broadcasting cost is the concern, adding seven more events does not help contain costs.

What’s crazy about qualifying via the Open is that one male, one female and one team would qualify in EVERY country that has at least one CrossFit affiliate. There are 195 countries in the world today. Add on qualifiers from the 16 other events and you have 211 athletes trekking to Madison to compete during one week in August. Oh, and the Open would be moved to October, just two months after the previous Games.

All of this speculation raises some serious questions. Let’s take a look at a few of them…

How could an event handle over 200 competitors in each division?

Some believe that the Games could be like a golf tournament where there is a cut (or cuts) throughout the week to dwindle the competition down to a manageable number. Sounds interesting in theory, but what events are before the cut that are fair and make sense? And if you are a fringe athlete, would you want to spend thousands of dollars knowing you will be cut after one event or a after a day?

With that many athletes in a division, it would be impossible to run any of the events inside the Coliseum. With 10 lanes, there would be over 20 heats for each division. Coordinating that many athletes and running an interesting competition seems unlikely.

Who is in charge of the CrossFit-sanctioned competitions?

Remember the OC Throwdown? Remember the high jump event that injured a lot of athletes? Or what about when athletes pulled a car and ran over an athlete at the Sac Town Throwdown (video below)?

Leaving a qualifying event with ramifications of qualifying for the CrossFit Games in the hands of the current event teams could lead to more outrageous (and unsafe) events.

So does CrossFit take over the programming? It is hard to believe that those in charge of the Dubai Fitness Championship want to hand over control to Dave Castro or someone else at CrossFit HQ.

There are a ton of logistical questions that having this type of qualification create. The PGA Tour and NASCAR are highly involved in each of the events. Don’t expect CrossFit to sit back and just accept whatever the 16 qualifying competitions want to do.

Just one athlete from each country?

Mat Fraser likely qualifies. However, the Open is a wildcard and is not always a guarantee to finish in 1st place. What happens if Noah Ohlsen crushes it again and Fraser takes 2nd? Does he now have to travel around the country (or world) to earn his ticket to Madison?

The cost of doing that is very cost prohibitive to many athletes. Only two athletes earn more than $100,000 at the CrossFit Games each year. Dropping thousands of dollars chasing a qualifying spot for a minimal payout at the Games does not sound appealing.

The same conundrum holds true for Canada, Iceland and Australia. In Canada, any guesses which male won the Open? Fikowski? Vellner? Nope and nope. It was Alex Vigneault. In this scenario those guys are now traveling to Minnesota or Miami to attempt to qualify.

What about drug testing?

This is a very valid concern. With the massive number of athletes getting caught at Regionals this year, drug testing has to be a high priority for the sport going forward. Spreading out the competitions over the course of 10 months and adding seven more qualifying events makes that task even more difficult.

Right now the regional/international off-season competitions like Wodapalooza and Dubia Fitness Championship do not drug test. CrossFit HQ did visit these competitions and conduct their own drug testing, but it is unlikely the existing competitions have a budget to drug test their athletes.

And let’s not get started about the Open. It would be impossible to drug test the top athletes in every country during the Open. Again, if costs are the concern, this would not reduce expenses to CrossFit.


There are so many more questions that remain to be asked. We could spend hours coming up with ideas of how all of this might work, but it probably makes more sense to sit back and wait for the official announcement from CrossFit HQ. While it sounds like changes are definitely coming, we still really don’t know what’s really going to happen or how it is all going to work.

We are not ready to say that the rumored changes are false, but we are approaching these with skepticism until they are officially announced by CrossFit HQ. Until then it is fun to speculate, but we are not going to waste a ton of time on it.

Oh, and did you know there is not an affiliate in Tuvalu yet? For a $3,000 annual affiliate fee, you could compete against all 9,893 other Tuvaluans for a spot at the CrossFit Games!