Why there is no Adaptive Division at the CrossFit Games…yet!

 In Adaptive Athlete, Amputees, Blind, Body & Soul, Brain Injury, Cognitive Adaptations, CrossFit, Diabetes, Fitness, Mind, Mobility, Prosthetics, Social Welfare, Spinal Cord Injuries, veterans
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So, there are so many people out there asking CrossFit HQ, Greg Glassman, Dave Castro and The CrossFit Games, ‘Why isn’t there a Division for Adaptive Athletes?!? Why are you not making an effort to give US a place when you give even Teen and Master athletes a chance for glory?!? WHY don’t you care about us enough to create one, BUT — — USE Adaptive Athletes on social media to get attention?!? Why? Why? Why?”

Let us back it up several steps here to the meat and potatoes of it all, before we get caught up in asking those types of questions. Take it on back to what we like to call ‘The Process’, and it sucks but hey someone has to do it!

May we ask you some questions first. We want you to answer them to the best of your ability before we move on to the big question at hand in the bold title above.

1)    What is an Adaptive Division in the sport of CrossFit?

2)    How many competitions have been held for Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit?

3)    How many competitions have been held for Adaptive Athletes where all Athletes were completely satisfied with the judging methods?

4)    What is the proper way to judge Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit? Is that widely known and accepted?

5)    What are the methods of determining Scaled & RX Divisions for Adaptive Athletes? And, how many athletes so far fit into those categories?

6)    How many competitions for Adaptive Athletes have had awards in the form of Cash/Valuables?

7)    What is the population of Elite Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit for each Adaptation?

8)    Should all Adaptive Athletes do the same workouts?

9)    What are functional and non-functional moves of Adaptive Athletes across the board? Who is doing it RIGHT and not just throwing a bar up to throw a bar up?


How many of those could you answer? Don’t worry, it shouldn’t be many, if any at all, because truth be told there are no concise answers out there at the current time. There are many more questions, like the ones above, that have yet to be answered because the work to find them has yet to be put in.

The reason that there are now Teen & Masters Divisions in the sport of CrossFit is because the POPULATION is there and it has taken years for this population to get to the point of being at the Games. The population grew largely because of the following reason: more people that fit into those Divisions began ‘Crossfitting’. CrossFit posted about these athlete types and got people involved till there was a large enough pool to pick from and set standards for on an international scale.

People must see to believe these days, it is that way of the future and of social media in general. Now, there is a thin line which can be general or personal when it comes to being posted on social media. An example is: Some individuals rightly feel used when they receive a pair of shoes from a company, put them on, take a picture and send it to the company. Then the company gets thousands of likes, positive marketing and sales, while the athlete only got a pair of shoes.

Then there are the companies and foundations that post about us for the good of the community. We have to see that this is the beginning of the bigger picture. The Adaptive Athletes that are out there now are setting the tone for the rest of us that follow and ground work has to be laid. We all have to work to get people out of their homes, working out, in the community and proudly showing their faces to the world. We can’t just post videos thinking people will find us, we have to be proactive and go to rehabilitation facilities, physical therapy centers, schools, other foundations and organizations to have our voice be heard. We have to network, work together and build a community of at least a few thousand Adaptive Athletes and with a very well planned out Division System that parallels the Paralympics, which we have already begun creating for the community HERE , it is then that a true competitive floor can be created for Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit.

Lets answer some of those questions above! Some numbers are skipped because they are answered inside other answers below!

Since the largest communities in CrossFit are Limb Different Athletes and Wheelchair Athletes with Spinal Cord Injuries, we will use those athletes as our examples for the purpose of our questions.

Answer to 1)    What is an Adaptive Division in the sport of CrossFit?

An Adaptive Division can be a variety of things, but most importantly it needs to be conveyed which TYPE of Division it is. As you can see, from the link we just shared, there are a few choices but the truest form of an Adaptive Division Competition are athletes competing in the same Adaptive Sub-Class. An example of this would be a Wheelchair User with a Level T11 Injury against another Wheelchair User with a Level T11 Injury.

The next level of competition, if there are no Level T11 Injury Athletes, would be a Level T1-T12 Injury Athlete against another Level T1-T12 Injury Athlete. And this is at both the Athletes discretion and knowledge that the Level T11 Injury Athlete has a greater advantage with his limb and core use over the an Athlete with a Level T1-T10 Injury and so on.

Another example is a Lower Leg Difference Athlete (Below the Knee/ BK) against another Lower Leg Difference Athlete. Though the truest form of Lower Limb competition would be if the difference was at the same area of the leg (ie right below the knee, mid calf, right above ankle). The ability to put pressure and have correct form can differ greatly even if it is just an few extra or a few less inches. It can get confusing we know! But that’s why we have worked hard to start the process of understanding and we welcome all input from the community so we can grow and show the CrossFit games that it is easy to figure out!

Many of you out there have seen Adaptive Divisions as everyone doing the same workouts together. This is called Exhibition Style and is mainly for educational purposes because not all movements are functional for all athletes and the modifiers/variations are so significantly different that there is no true way of scoring these athletes together as a whole. These exhibitions are so great and so needed in order for more people to become aware of all the possibilities out there and that it is growing in the sport of CrossFit, but athletes should be told that it is an Exhibition prior to signing up.

Also, like reviewed above for example, not all wheelchair athletes are the same. Some use wheelchairs because they have Spinal Cord Injuries, others because of Cerebral Palsy and others because of leg amputations/differences. These athletes are all DRASTICALLY different and should not be grouped together, except for the above mentioned ‘Exhibition Style’. Someone with a Spinal Cord Injury usually has limited core movement while an individual with leg amputations/differences usually has complete use of their core for one example.

Answer to 2)    How many competitions have been held for Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit?

Again, what are we talking about when we mean ‘Adaptive Competition”? There have been a handful of competitions but they have all fallen into different versions of the Adaptive Divisions you can see in our link HERE. There has not been universal bunch of competitions held for Adaptive Athletes in which all Athletes have agreed have been fair as of yet. Looking forward to that though!

Answer to 5)    What are the methods of determining Scaled & RX for Adaptive Athletes? And, how many athletes so far fit into those categories?

Ok, how many Michael Mills, Kevin Ogar’s, Mike Gallardo’s, Derek Weida’s, Zack Ruhl’s, Cindy Ouellet’s,  Stephanie Hammerman’s , Logan Aldridge’s do you know? Are those the Athletes that we base these RX Divisions off of because they are, so far, some of the strongest Adaptive Athletes out there in the sport of CrossFit? Who do THEY compete against? Are there at least 10-20+ Athletes like each of them for them to compete against equally? What is equally? What is the Scaled Division and who are those athletes? SO many questions unanswered.

If we were given a Division in the Games…who qualifies and how do they qualify? When does the Scaling/Modifications/Variations reasonably end? What workouts would they do that are functional for them all and challenge them at The Games’ level? These need to be answered.

Answer to 6)    How many Competitions for Adaptive Athletes have had awards in the form of Cash/Valubles?

None that we know of. When money comes in and it gets REAL out there on the competition floor, then we will all see how much work we need to put into this, and not seeing cash rewards yet is a BIG sign as to why we are not ready to be in the Games yet…where there are Millions of dollars at stake as well as the reputation of an entire global sport.

When cash rewards begin to flow for your event, you better be sure that your Athletes know what they signed up for and ALL agree that they may be competing at their own risk and others may have advantages over the other.

Let’s say we have Leg Difference Athlete against Leg Difference Athlete. It is a competition that doesn’t specify if it is an Upper Leg Difference Competition or a Lower Leg Difference Competition…Just Leg Difference Competition. As an athlete you must ask the event hosts, “What kind of Leg Difference Athletes are competing in this event?” If it is ANY Leg Difference then you must be aware that it is likely you will have both advantages and disadvantages over athletes attending and be ok with that if someone beats you. In the same, the other athletes attending must be ok with you being their competition if you have advantages and win.

Monetary awards are hard to provide with such a small community in which athletes with similar Adaptations cannot always travel and attend the very few Adaptive Competitions that have been held thus far. Growing the population is what is most important right now as well as getting more competitions going globally by those that are asking for CrossFit to host a competition for them. We must provide to receive!

Answer to 8)    Should all Adaptive Athletes do the same workouts?

No. No. No. How does a wheelchair user modify a squat when they have no use of their legs? How about a dead lift with an Upper Arm Difference Athlete? Many times we see Upper Arm Difference Athletes with a band wrapped around their nub in some way and activating more of their upper back, traps, shoulders and triceps to try and hold the band in place rather than worry about the TRUE form of the dead lift. Is it functional? Or are we just doing it to do it! Where does that line draw itself?

There are a bunch of athletes out there that are trying to do movements that were NOT made for the mobility level or functionality of their bodies and it is not corrected but rather applauded. This is a problem that stems from our language! Individuals do not want to feel bad for the Adaptive Athlete and show that with thoughts and posts of ‘At least they are trying! Good for them for getting it up there!’ Oh man that’s so much weight he threw up’ while the athletes form is HORRENDOUS and any other Athletes would be called out immediately.

Hey we all don’t want to look like the A-hole who puts down the ‘disabled’ guy because at least he is trying, but that is the mentality that is ruining the chances of CrossFit taking on Adaptive Athletes at the CrossFit Games. It is NOT a put down…it is correcting bad form and helping the athlete. Adaptive Athletes are like any other athlete and when a move isn’t functional and it is blasted to thousands and millions of viewers, then the Adaptive Athletes we are trying to bring into the sport will see that: 1) Form means nothing & 2) They just want me to get it up there! This will result in giving the sport of CrossFit a bad name because of the injuries incurred from lack of proper form or others thinking that this sport isn’t serious because form is not a concern…That is not what we want guys! Let’s do this right!

So much to think about right! You will be excited to hear that, other than I AM ADAPTIVE providing a clearer way for Adaptive Competitions to be held and understood properly, we are about to release ‘The Superhuman Series’ which is the first attempt to create appropriate Division Classifications for Adaptive Athletes in the sport of CrossFit.  It will be held by Throwdowns.com and will have a different competition for 11 Different Adaptation Classes. The competitions will be geared towards the abilities and challenges of each Adaptation instead of having all athletes complete the same workout across the board, which we have already pointed out is not functional for everyone. This will be a step in the right direction in grabbing the attention of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, Dave Castro & The CrossFit Games to show them that we are putting in the work and creating a global population they can work with cohesively and easily.

After reading this, do you think that we are ready to be at the CrossFit Games just yet? Heck, they are trying their best! They have a 1-day crash course for continuing education on Adaptive Athletics. They had an Exhibition & Seminar for Adaptive Athletes at the 2015 CrossFit Games and even made an Adaptive badge for the Open this 2016 year! I would say they are making a significant effort, just like they do for everyone else out there like the elderly, the over weight, kids and every single person in-between. I AM ADAPTIVE has been very blessed to be welcomed so warmly into the CrossFit community and though it is just one of over 40 sports we represent athletes in, it is a very very new sport that we as a community have to create OURSELVES and put in the work to get people involved. Unfortunately, many non-profits and organizations don’t like to work with others and that makes it very hard to progress our community. This must change in order to grow!

Nothing in this world is free so lets figure this out and start asking ourselves the questions that will get us the end results! We have to take it slow before we can run/roll/crutch/crawl and no better population or community knows that better than us. So lets do what we do best and work together to make our futures come to fruition that much quicker! We hope this offers some light on a sensitive subject!

I AM ADAPTIVE is here to ‘Redefine Greatness’ and be a vessel for information to get to the masses. We want to stand up for those who feel they are alone and be a voice that the world has no choice but to listen to. I AM ADAPTIVE is here to progress and unify a community that is already so separated and we can only do that with your support! Help us continue to Educate, Socialize & Mobilize the Adaptive & Veteran Communities by Supporting us below!

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IAA Founders with some of the amazing athletes at Wodapalooza 2016