Switching Gears From Athlete to Fan

So you didn’t qualify for Regionals. Here’s why that shouldn’t matter.
By Jamie Toland, CF-L1 ,

Most of the athletes in the CrossFit community will not be competing at Regionals in May. This year, as we all know, even fewer of us will be given that opportunity. With the number of Regionals being reduced to just eight locations and the number of athletes who qualify cut down to 40 men, women and teams, your best chance to get to Regionals is to start buying tickets.

But the switch from the Open to the Regionals is more than just extra training for the second cut of CrossFit’s elite. For the majority of us, it becomes about switching gears from participant to fan.

And that’s not entirely bad.

As a writer for CrossFit Media and other companies that deal with athlete relations, I appreciate the common bond that arises from completing all five of the Open workouts. I also like the fact that I did the same workouts as all the people who are competing at the Games. Regardless of your opinion on the difficulty of this year’s Open workouts, the opportunity to do the same work as the athletes you look up to is unlike anything in professional sports.

But not at the Regional level.

Making the switch to spectator is very difficult for a majority of the community. I’ve heard guys in the stands at Regionals talking about how it should have been them out there, that they would have gotten this time or that result if they had just gotten a shot. People complain that it’s all political and how HQ (who has very little to do with the actual programming, by the way) sets everything up so that their favorite individuals and teams are the ones to advance.

Instead of the jealousy and misguided envy, I would recommend that people appreciate the experience as a whole. I was able to complete these workouts, at 40, and only had to scale one. When I go about my regular day and I look around the places I shop, eat and work, I remind myself that I get up at 4:30 most mornings to put in the work that other people wouldn’t even take the energy to read about, let alone try. Because of those efforts, I was able to be a part of the Open, which builds into the Regionals and then the Games. Being a part of it is what matters.

For me, doing the Open is the gift. Watching Regionals is just an extension of that experience. If you haven’t been to a Regional event, you’re missing out. I know you’ve seen some great athletes at your box or at local competitions. I know you can watch the excellent coverage online and on television. But until you see some of the best, most athletically gifted and hardworking athletes compete, scrap and fight for their shot at the big time live, you are selling the experience of the CrossFit Games season short.

Because when it’s all said and done and the top five athletes and teams are standing on the podium at the end of May, you’ll always have something in common. Everyone started out by doing 15.1.

What have been your Regional experiences? What is it like for you to switch from Open athlete to Regional fan?

Stay on the Grind.

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