Semifinal Prize Scholarship Announcement Highlights Conversation About CrossFit As A Professional Sport

Courtesy of CrossFit LLC.

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Earlier this week, just days before the inaugural semi-final events, CrossFit announced his semi-final handbag on Instagram. As promised, payments were uniform across all continents. However, much to the disappointment of athletes and fans around the world, overall they were shockingly low.

A great thing: Despite the strides CrossFit athletes have made in recent years in professionalizing the sport of fitness, the CrossFit Games have yet to match this growth with the cash prize these athletes need to make a living from the sport. And, despite the new CEO of CrossFit, Eric Roza’s commitment to growing the ecosystem so athletes can make a professional living, at this point it appears the Sanctionals seasons offered more lucrative opportunities.

Call me back: Compared to previous seasons, the semi-final payouts are not indicative of the sport’s progress and compare more to the era of regionals that ended in 2018, where payouts for top players have remained well in the game. the four-digit range.

  • In 2018, Regionals payouts were exactly the same as Semi-Finals payouts this year for individual athletes.
  • For team athletes, prices have gone from 3k, 2.5k, 2k, 1.5k and 1k to the 2018 regional ones.
  • Compared to Sanctionals of the 2019 and 2020 season, it’s just a drop in the bucket
  • In 2020, Rogue, the Dubai CrossFit Championship and Loud & Live events, set up $ 2,178,860. Including:
    • Wodapalooza CrossFit Festival: Total scholarship of $ 399,860.
    • West Coast Classic: Total scholarship of $ 323,500.
    • Granite games: Total scholarship of $ 250,000.
    • Madrid CrossFit Championship: Total scholarship of $ 260,000.
    • CrossFit Maya Classic: $ 51,500 in total scholarship.
    • Snape Invitation: Total scholarship of $ 375,000.
    • Dubai CrossFit Championship: A total of $ 519,000 in scholarship.
    • For a total of: $ 2,178,860.
  • Comparatively, CrossFit set up a scholarship of $ 400,000 over 10 semi-finals, divided into $ 40,000 allocated to each semi-final.
  • For those who keep track, that’s more than five times less than the previous sanctioning season.

What they say : The announcement of the CrossFit Games semi-finals scholarship was not well received by athletes, semi-final organizers and other prominent figures in the sport.

  • A Sanctional director who wishes to remain anonymous commented. “It’s demoralizing. During Sanctional season, at least the athletes were allowed to choose opportunities where they had the potential to make a lot of money. Now you are limiting earning potential, increasing athlete spending, and reducing purses. “
  • Patrick Vellner: “I think that restricting the ability of athletes to win through cash prizes and creating visibility for themselves and their partners is bad for the ecosystem.
  • “Taking away the incentives and opportunities for athletes to compete is not beneficial to anyone. The past two years have been full of instability, ”continued Vellner.
  • “Personally, I prefer to have more control over my year, but this is not the only variable to take into account. he concluded.
  • Snorri Baron, manager of several renowned athletes, including Sara Sigmundsdottir: “For athletes who have yet to gain the fame, commercialization and sponsorship income of the Dottirs, Toomey’s, Ohlsen’s and Vellner’s of this world – being a full-time ‘pro’ CrossFit athlete is a tough climb.”
  • “Especially now that we are emerging from an extended period of confinement, canceled events and much less exposure. They all have to pay competition fees and then they have to cover all competition related costs; travel, accommodation, nutrition, etc. », He continued.
  • “On top of that, they have to push their limits in training to prepare to compete. To be able to grow like that, very few of them can actually have a 100% job beside it, ”added Baron.
  • “In short; most of these athletes are broke and have simply done their best to acclimatize to it because they love the sport and also because they have the hope that one day there will be greater opportunities awaiting them within it, ”he said. he concludes.

To note: In August 2020, during Eric Roza’s first town hall, the new CEO of CrossFit indicated that he would like more athletes to be able to make a better living as professional CrossFit athletes.

  • “Can you imagine how many more athletes will make a living, and make a very good living off CrossFit, if we have 1 billion viewers in the world? he concluded.

CrossFit’s take on the matter: When asked to comment, CrossFit Director of Communications Andrew Weistein responded:

  • “The past year has been brutal for everyone, including athletes and organizers, with closures, event cancellations and loss of revenue from almost all sources due to the pandemic. ”
  • Although half of this year’s semi-finals were forced to take place virtually, this year’s semi-finals scholarship will be equal to the old Regionals scholarship, and we hope to increase it considerably in the future as our sport returns to normal and growth.
  • While the sport of CrossFit succeeds, it will support a robust and sustainable ecosystem that finances the livelihoods of more full-time athletes through official season events, partner events and licensed events around the world .

The difficult math: In the end, the payments from the semi-finals are barely enough to cover the hotel, travel, and other expenses incurred by the athletes to participate in these events, let alone give them a payment lasting enough to allow them to earn a living from this sport. .

  • When an individual athlete takes part in a semi-final event, they will have paid CrossFit $ 320 in registration fees only.
  • When a team takes part in a semi-final event, they will have already paid $ 620 to CrossFit in registration fees alone.
  • Indeed, in North America and Europe, teams qualifying for fifth place will have spent 62% of their prize in CrossFit registration fees, giving their team a final payout of $ 95 per person ($ 76 per person if you include the coach).

Where is the PFAA? : The lack of fair payouts in the semi-finals makes many people wonder where the Professional Fitness Athletes’ Association stands in all of this. After all, they were meant to be a beacon of support in trying to push forward the idea that athletes should be able to train and compete as their full-time job in the sport of fitness.

  • Games athlete Travis Williams expressed frustration with PFAA on the Instagram post, “I just want to congratulate the Athletes Union. You killed it. You have CrossFit to pay off at all levels as well. Great job guys. Really glad it’s all right now… alot of people m ‘sent a message saying it was CrossFits’ fault. All they did was listen to people complain and do what they asked. Apparently that’s what the athlete organization think we are worth.
  • According to Fikowski, the PFAA had no involvement in decisions on semi-final payouts.
  • “We tried to be involved, but we were kept at bay. Their commitment to us was to “create a bigger pie” and increase the athlete middle class, “said Fikowski.
  • According to Fikowski, “The goal should be a growing economy. Trying to expand the ecosystem and infect new sponsors and money every year.
  • “Our reaction to this announcement is probably the same as that of all the athletes when they first read it. It is disappointing that the cash prize opportunities have been significantly greater over the Sanctionals’ two seasons, ”said Fikowski.
  • “There were verbal commitments to match or increase this income opportunity in this new semi-final format, and it’s frustrating that it didn’t happen, ”he concluded.
  • “Obviously, our job is always to defend the athletes and their wants and needs and we would be happy to be invited to any conversation that allows us to do this more effectively, ”PFAA member Patrick Vellner added to Fikowski’s comments.

The bottom line: If the CrossFit Games are to create an ecosystem in which athletes can make a living, full time as professional athletes, there is still a lot of work to be done. Sanctionals organizers have offered lucrative scholarships, well beyond those offered in this season’s semi-finals.

Go further:
CrossFit CEO Eric Roza presents a daring program in the First Town Hall.
Payments for the semi-finals must be uniform, according to the organizers.
Fewer earning opportunities in the new season, say Games athletes.

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Sara R. Cicero