From the moment I stepped foot onto the grounds of the StubHub Center in Carson, California, I was in awe of all the possibilities ahead of me.
I was employed as an assistant in the live video media department for the Masters division and team events. My job, in essence, was to provide the CrossFit Media graphics department, director and producer with all the information needed for them to tell the story of what the people at home were seeing or, more important, were going to see while watching the Games on ESPN. This wasn’t something I had years of experience doing (the video production side), but I do know about CrossFit and the Games, and it became an awesome job very quickly.
JTol at The 2014 Games
Because I was working on the Masters events from Tuesday to Thursday, I had to watch every single second of their competition. If you haven’t watched the amazing Masters competitions before, you’re really missing the full CrossFit Games experience. Every division — which ranged from age 40 to 60 and older — featured amazing tales of strength and grace as the athletes battled it out for thousands of dollars in the hot California sun.
The message I took from this experience is that age truly is just a number. Instead of throwing in the towel and succumbing to the excuse that they’re too old and giving up on their health and fitness, these inspirational athletes demonstrated that fitness is a lifelong commitment.
Our crew was also charged with covering all the team events for the weekend. Is it easier to compete and complete the events as a team? After seeing the events CrossFit put these athletes through, I would definitely say no. Pulling and pushing a 1,000-pound sled, doing squats and cleans in unison with a more than 400-pound Rogue worm, not to mention all the sprints, muscle-ups and burpees, left me with the impression that I didn’t want any part of those workouts no matter how many people I have on my team.
During the week, I had some pretty decent access to most areas. When I wasn’t working (mostly during the evening and during the men’s and women’s events), I got to watch some of the Games live. Our coverage is excellent, but just like any other type of competition, it’s incredible when you see it live. Being just a few feet from these athletes, watching them do things most humans on the planet couldn’t dream of doing, and witnessing the joy of not only competing but also the genuine love the athletes, their families and friends have for this community is something television can never truly capture.
Access to the athletes is amazing at the Games. I’ve never been to the Super Bowl, but it’s safe to assume that most of the NFL players don’t walk around and stop in the vendor tents, sit with their fans, take pictures, talk to them about their training and sign autographs. In my two years working with athletes in CrossFit, I’ve never run into one who has been anything but humble and friendly. The egos in CrossFit are not what they are in other sports.
Most athletes aren’t full-time professionals (in terms of money made for being an athlete) and rely on sponsorships and running and operating their own box in order to pay for things like trips to California to participate in the CrossFit Games. Many also rely on fan support. Before the Games, individual competitors and teams created fundraisers on social media to raise money to help defer the cost of the trip. I’d say that not a lot of NBA or MLB players have to take this route to make their trips to games during their season.
This past week was one of the most incredible and transformative. Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, declared that with the Games, he was trying to create the “Woodstock of fitness.” While the growth of the Games has far surpassed anyone’s expectations of 2007’s dusty competition on a dusty family ranch in Aromas, California, the core of the community is still the thing that drives its success.
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Stay on the Grind.
Jamie Toland (JTol) Twitter @JTolgrinder