Madison, Wisconsin is about to be overtaken with a mass of sweaty, heaving bodies – and it has nothing to do with all that beer and cheese. With the CrossFit Games moving to its new location from Carson, California, there’s an injection of adrenaline to the Sport of Fitness, and it’s addicting. You don’t have to be a CrossFit prophet to get into the Games – you just need an electronic device and a spark of interest.
Here are the five types of people who should tune in to the CrossFit Games this year. Catch the them live August 3-6 on CBS and CBS Sports, the CrossFit Games website, and Facebook Live.
The everyday CrossFit athlete
CrossFit puts spectators much closer to their idols than most other sports. For how many other sports broadcast on national television can you say, “Hey, I competed against her!”? Let’s ignore the fact that tens of thousands of people placed between you and Katrin Davidsdottir – minor detail. If you participated in the CrossFit Open, you performed the same workout as the 40 athletes on the screen – and now you get to watch the best of the best in your sport duke it out for the title. How freaking cool is that? And, though it may be a snowball’s chance in hell, there is a possibility it could be you out there one day.
Early August marks the beginning of the fall sports frenzy for many parents. These water bottle warriors need a good warm-up, and the CrossFit Games is a great outlet. Most CrossFit athletes, even at the games level, don’t have a huge coaching staff or millions of dollars in sponsorships behind them. They got to Madison by their own grit, mettle and the support of their families. Many are former high school athletes or gymnasts who stumbled into CrossFit and/or weight training – and relied on their parents to get them to every competition. Some athletes can’t even escape family on the competition floor – look for former Games champion Ben Smith and his rookie younger brother Alec Smith. (And check out their dad pulling 600 pounds from the floor.)
The fantasy sports fanatic
If somehow you can’t get excited about the competition, how about a competition about the competition? That’s right, thanks to Reebok, this year you can set up a fantasy CrossFit Games bracket. Pick your top 10 men and women and your top five teams. A perfect bracket lands you $1 million. A really good bracket lands you some “consolation” prizes – like one year’s supply of groceries from Whole Foods Paycheck and a home gym. Can’t win if you don’t play!
The reality TV junkie
The CrossFit Games are different from other sport championships in that the athletes sometimes walk onto the floor not knowing their next challenge. Bachelor fans – think of it like the group date reveal: Where are they going? What are they going to do? Who’s going to get in a fight? (Most likely with a judge – it’s happened!) Plus, in recent years, the TV production has spiced things up with some athlete back stories and personal interviews. Need more? Check out Road to the Games on YouTube or a good deep dive. By the end of it, you’ll feel like you’ve met some swolemates. And you’ll probably have your heart broken. But isn’t that what it’s all about?
The beauty of CrossFit is the functional aspect of the sport that we don’t see in many other fitness regimens. Jumping, throwing, skipping, swinging from bars – all movements most of us tucked neatly into our “childhood” days and hadn’t touched until we walked into a box one day. Especially with the obstacle course announced this year, what’s not to love for a kid? They can watch real people doing “kid stuff” – and probably laugh as maniacally as Dave Castro as they fall from ropes, slide across finish lines and attempt to flip something called a “pig.” Plus, they’re on social media all day anyway – some inspirational fitness is probably a healthier dose of screen time than most anything else they can find.
Decide to watch the games? Follow me on Twitter @AudCarson for snark, color commentary and to watch my hopes and dreams get smashed in 140 characters or less.