Here We Go Again: T-Nation and CrossFit Clickbait

I just saw this posted on Thursday through my Facebook feed:

CrossFitters Aren't Athletes

The author's first mistake is to basically say that his definition as a philosophy major was this: "In college, I majored in Philosophy, and our roundtable definition of a sport was similar [to the Oxford dictionary]."

The issue I have here is the presumption that we should respect his relatively arbitrary characteristics of sport because he majored in philosophy. I took philosophy 101, as many college fish are wont to do, and it was the worst. 

He continues to say that most would agree that sport carries all of the following:

• Competition
• Athletic or physical prowess
• Entertainment value to participants and onlookers

Joy Sheppard - Figure Competitor
Okay, so far so good. I can agree with these parameters.

But then his application of the parameters dismisses bodybuidling as a sport on the basis that the competitors don't compare physical exertion or athletic prowess. Now, I'm not a bodybuilder, but I'd say that you're looking at the direct result of some serious physical exertion. They aren't doing their bicep curls on stage at that moment, but have you ever stood completely flexed, smiling, and doing such posing under lights and scrutiny yourself? Doubt it. It's HARD. I've not done it myself, but I do know a few people that have, and they work their assess off on that stage to present their hard work.

He goes on to explain that since CrossFit fits these parameters it most definitely is a sport. I agree. Okay, so if you train in a sport, then you're an athlete, right? Maybe you have to compete.

No, this guys goes on to explain why that just isn't the case.

Jon Anderson - Pro Strongman and Pro IFFB Bodybuilder

His bottom line reasoning:

"Bottom line, if you have a day-job but go to CrossFit, powerlifting or Olympic lifting meets on weekends and don't make a significant portion of your income from it, you have no business calling yourself an athlete."

What that means:

  • If you compete, even at a national or international level, but don't make money at it, you are not an athlete. 
  • If you are an amateur in any sport, and therefore by definition don't make money at it (Olympians, people), you are not an athlete. 
  • If you have a full time job that pays for your participation in competition, you are not an athlete. 
So this philosophy major, who is not an athlete, has decided unilaterally that unless you're a fucking PRO ATHLETE in a sport that has that level of sponsorship and income, you are not an athlete. 

Sorry, Kendrick Farris, three time Olympian, looks like you're not an athlete, you're just a weekend warrior because you coach and host seminars and don't make most of your income directly through training and competing. 
Courtney Walker - CrossFit Regionals Games Competitor
Sorry, Courtney Walker, you're not an athlete either. With no sponsorships, and only a modicum of income through NPGL game play, you're just an ex-athlete gymnast from UCLA. 

By this guy's logic, you're either a pro athlete or you not an athlete at all. No room for amateurs and n00bs here.

My qualifications for really being able to call yourself an athlete?

  • Compete in a sport with the intention of progressing. 
  • Train in a sport with the intention of competing.
  • And…. that's about it. 
For more on my thoughts about CrossFit and who is or isn't an athlete, you can read a previous blog of mine here