In football it’s the scream-filled, helmet-slap-laden sack dance on a second down play when the team trails by four touchdowns.
In baseball it’s the bat-flipping, chest-beating homerun celebration the lands in seats already emptied by a lopsided score
In basketball it’s the Jordan-esque jump and fist pump after a last second shot that ends the first quarter drawing your team within 8.
Sports are emotional and with that emotion there comes a time and a place for the sack dance, homerun salute, and buzzer-beating celebration. But too often in mainstream sports the celebration trumps the play, the act usurps the game, the individual overshadows the team. Unfortunately our Sports Center attention span reinforces athletes’ shameless acts of self-promotion at the expense of what makes sports great: the games.
But fortunately for us, fans of the Crossfit Games, our athletes are not ruled by egocentrism. Instead they are driven by one of the foundational values of Crossfit: community.
The second event of the 2014 Crossfit Games, the men’s 1 rep max overhead squat, illustrated all that is right with Crossfit. Little known Emmanuel Maldonado earned some of the biggest cheers of the night. The reason? After failing on his first two attempts, Maldonado was able to grit out his final lift of 295… good for 39th place. They weren’t cheering for his weight; they were cheering for his perseverance.
During the second heat, Tommy Hackenbruck and Matt Fraser were going back and forth, each pushing the other to higher weights overhead. After Hackenbruck set the bar with a successful 376-pound overhead, Matt Fraser successfully lifted 377 pounds to win the event. Hackenbruck’s response? An authentic smile and some applause for his opponent.
But maybe the highlight of the event was seeing what happens when an athletes comes face-to-face with failure. After winning the first event, Jordan Troyan failed on all three of his overhead squat attempts. As a result he was the only athlete not to post a score in the event. Once the heat was complete his fellow competitors came over to console him. Why? Because they’ve all been there before…
The cynics will say Crossfit is too new, too young, that it’s still in its infancy. Its athletes haven’t had time to be tainted by greed and shameless self-promotion.
Others will claim that Crossfit’s media machine dupes us; it shields us from what athletes really think and how they really feel.
Still others will say that we’ve drunk the Kool-Aid; we’re blinded from the truth by our cult-like addiction to functional fitness.
To all the naysayers I respond the same way: You must not Crossfit.