By: Emily Beers
250-plus CrossFit athletes, fans, spectators and organizers participated in an online survey to determine what separates good throwdowns from great ones, and to expose the most common pet peeves.
While Part 1 of this series revealed the number one thing CrossFit athletes value about the throwdowns they attend is programming (they want well-balanced programming that tests the fundamental skills they work on in the gym each day) what do the spectators value most?
Survey says: SEATING!
Fans and spectators revealed their biggest concern is adequate seating.
There’s nothing worse than going to a competition and finding yourself standing and looking at the back of people’s heads, instead of watching your family members and friends work their butts off, fans explained.
“If my ass has to stand and battle other superfans to get a glimpse of my friends, or my hubby competing: Uh oh,” said Bradleah Dahlman, who has attended many CrossFit competitions and local throwdowns in her seven years of being involved in the sport.
Fans urge organizers to rent good bleachers. Although they’re not cheap to rent, it’s the cost of doing business, spectators say, and will go a long way in ensuring your competition lives to see another year.
2. WHO THE F IS WINNING?
Fans voted it was either “moderately important” or “very important” for workouts to be programmed in a way that makes it clear to them who is in the lead at all times.
Ladders that knock athletes out when they fail, or sprint chippers with an obvious start and finish line, are great for this, they say. 30-minute AMRAPs of burpees, double unders and deadlifts, on the other hand, are not.
The CrossFit Games and Regionals events started doing this a number of years ago. Fans said they noticed right away, and appreciate this feature. In events, such as the 2014 Regional legless rope climb event and the 2015 Regional row, chest-to-bar pull-up, handstand push-up event, athletes had to move a black foam pylon called a “round marker” as they progressed through the event to keep spectators in-the-know about who was in the lead. Other times, lanes are well-marked with rep numbers to keep spectators informed where each athlete is in relation to the rest of the heat.
Fans were also asked to rank the types of events they find most entertaining to the least entertaining. The results showed the following:
“Sprint events” and “max lifts” were tied as the two most crowd-pleasing, exciting events to watch, with “high-skilled gymnastics” events coming in third. “Team events” ranked fourth. Less exciting for fans were “long grinders, such as 30-minutes AMRAPS,” and at the bottom of the list, spectators said they usually don’t appreciate “obscure events with never-seen-before skills and movements,” nor do they appreciate events where they have to “watch athletes fail” over and over.
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF A LEADERBOARD
Like the athletes’ survey, which showed athletes appreciate competitions that boast live leaderboards to keep them up-to-date with how an event is unfolding, fans also enjoy following the competition via an online scoreboard.
Superfan Leah Ternan explained: “I enjoy events where you can tell who is in the lead, and I like to follow a leaderboard,” she said.
Fans said they appreciate competitions with various vendors.
Dahlman explained it gives spectators something to do between events, and makes it more likely they’ll stick around until the last event of the day.
“You are not going to sit and watch the whole thing without stretching your legs, and girls especially need to shop,” Dalhman said, adding that coffee and snack vendors also add to the spectators’ experience.
Although finding a professional-sounding announcer, who speaks clearly and entertains the crowd, can be difficult to find, if you do find one, hang on to him or her. Spectators agree an announcer can bring a competition to a whole new level.
“It’s such a hard job, but when you have a good one, it’s awesome. They keep you in the loop, mention team names, and give the fans a chance to cheer and represent,” Dahlman said.
Competition details aside, most fans interviewed said they always enjoy watching CrossFit athletes compete, as it’s difficult not to be inspired by the athleticism and work ethic on the floor.
“This may sound totally hokey, but the main reason I go to CrossFit competitions, local events or Regionals and the CrossFit Games, is because of the community. Supporting it and being part of it,” Ternan said. “It’s exciting and inspiring to watch friends work so hard at something so challenging. I love seeing the camaraderie during the competition, too, when early finishers support and encourage the athletes still competing in an event … it makes me tear up.”
She added: “I also like when I can drink beer.”