ESPN Failed Journalism 101

Had ESPN listened to Kevin Ogar more closely, they would have avoided one of these major errors.

Had ESPN listened to Kevin Ogar more closely, they would have avoided one of these major errors.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” tried to produce a show on injuries in CrossFit. They failed. Instead, they covered injuries outside of CrossFit, but tried to present them as CrossFit injuries. The result is a confused, misleading mess.

First, ESPN discussed Brad Hawley, who fell from a bar and hurt himself. Unfortunately for ESPN’s journalistic reputation, this accident did not happen at a CrossFit gym. It happened at an IronTribe Fitness location.

Kevin Ogar injured himself at an unlicensed fitness competition. It was not a CrossFit competition. ESPN’s reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada knows this because Kevin Ogar told him so in an interview. Yet Fainaru-Wada chose to ignore this fact and wrote that the OC Throwdown was a “CrossFit event,” nonetheless.

And that wasn’t ESPN’s only mistake with Ogar. Before consenting to the interview, Ogar “had numerous conversations where I told them the only way I would talk to them is if it was showing how much the community did for me and how CrossFit saved my life.” Clearly, ESPN did not fulfill their promise to Ogar.

After seeing the piece, Ogar wrote that he was, “Not super happy with the way they wrote it up after promising me repeatedly it was going to be a positive piece on the power of the CrossFit Community.”

ESPN is talking about CrossFit lacking quality control. But CrossFit does control who can teach CrossFit and hold CrossFit competitions. ESPN disregarded ALL of those measures in this piece.

It makes no more sense to focus on Hawley’s injury in a CrossFit piece than it does to focus on a BMW crash when discussing the risks of driving a Mercedes Benz.

Outside the Lines says that there is no published data on CrossFit. This is also false. Paul Hak’s study on CrossFit was admittedly flawed, but it did find that CrossFit survey responders had an injury rate similar to or less than triathlons, running, weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and “general fitness training.”

ESPN either failed to do basic journalistic research, or for some reason chose to ignore these relevant findings. Either way, they failed basic standards of journalism.

As for Rachel Crass’s statement that “if you can’t do 4 repetitions in a row properly, you have no business doing 30,” this reiterates CrossFit’s guidelines rather than contradicting them. Crass should just have admitted that she agrees with CrossFit’s policy to develop mechanics and consistency prior to adding intensity.

When you remove all of ESPN’s errors, there’s very little left. The only responsible option that remains is for ESPN is to pull the show and either amend or delete its associated articles.


    • Russ Greene

      IronTribe was no longer affiliated with CrossFit then. They had already been de-affiliated and started a competing brand – Iron Tribe Fitness.

  1. Matt

    Russ, they asked to interview HQ (Dave/coach) but they declined. Why?

    You say they should pull the plug on the show, should they pull the plug on the Games coverage, too?

  2. L. Castro

    Crossfit is one of the best things that ever happened in my sportive life. But just like the UFC in the early 90s, it will have to go through a transformation to adapt to mass practitioners, there is no doubt about it. Regardless of where the accidents have taken place, crossfit is becoming a wide spread practice (garages, home, general gyms) and the fact these accidents have not happened within a licensed box should not exclude Crossfit management to look at it carefully. I have witnessed the exact same accidents in our Box right next to me, and luckily our rubbered made floor kind of softened the fall to the toe to bar and in the case of Olgar’s accident the bar didnt fall to my mate’s spine, however we see that sort of fall quite regularly in the box. Perhaps we shouldn’t see this article as a criticism, but as a heads up to make us get better. Remember: when the UFC started with no rules and no protection, it was nothing compared to today’s exposure.

    • C Javier Hernandez

      I love crossfit and it has also made a huge difference in my life, but this is the argument i would like to see. Kudos Mrs. Castro, this is the most intelligent comment I have seen. Could not agree more. I will continue my crossfit but it would be nice to see a better effort to make it safer.

  3. Char

    I think the thing to remember about ANY exercise program is SAFETY. It doesn’t matter what or where it happens…it could be running, aerobics, at a women’s 30 minute workout place, at your local YMCA, or at a CrossFit box. Me, my husband, and our 18 year old daughters CrossFit at a box with Coaches who truly care about safety. If they were irresponsible Coaches, I wouldn’t go and sure wouldn’t let my kids go.
    About 18 months ago, I developed plantar fasciitis from running on a treadmill at a local gym. After multiple visits to an orthopedic surgeon, shots, physical therapy, etc, he told me to stop running or have surgery. Worst injury I’ve ever had! At that time, I switched to CrossFit. And yes, I tweaked my bicep earlier this year doing pullups at the box…but big deal! All I’m saying is that injuries can happen anywhere and at any time.
    I’d rather work out and get a few minor injuries along the way than do no exercise at all! I figure sitting on the couch every night after work is much worse for my health!!!!

  4. The most interesting thing is, perhaps even in the picture in this article (which may or may not have been intended by the article’s author), in this photo it clearly shows CrossFit’s commitment to ensuring everyone’s safety from athletes to participants to staff to spectators. In the photo, please notice the two red shirts behind Kevin Ogar seated in the chair; those two individuals are team members of the medical staff (one of which is myself) that were at that Southwest Regional Games event, as well as the many others. CrossFit has a very deep commitment to safety, and any inference or statement to the contrary is just false or a misrepresentation of facts. I know this to be true because I spent the weekend of that Regional Games event detailing and charting every medically relevant incident that occured.

    • James Hunter

      Except that event had nothing to do with Crossfit apparently. You can’t on one hand have the author say “this wasn’t anything to do with us” and then say “this shows how much Croasfit cares.

      • Russ Greene


        Ogar did not get hurt at a CrossFit event, but the CrossFit community and CrossFit inc. did rally behind Ogar to support him in his recovery. There is no contradiction here.

      • peterhoffman

        Russ, if you’ll entertain the notion that even though it was not a CrossFit event, Ogar was, in fact – working out in the way that CrossFit wants to lay claim to. He was doing CrossFit. Not at a CrossFit gym, but that doesn’t change the intent. Which was to compete in CrossFit in a way that wouldn’t irritate HQ’s IP dept. The contradiction lies in the fact that CrossFit claims no association to Ogar’s actions until it is doing things that attempt to generate positive PR. The argument is fine technically, but it just really disregards people’s ability to look between the lines, and when they do they know Ogar was doing crossfit (lowercase intentional). I love CrossFit and have done it for three years without any notable injury, but I just wish you guys would chill out and see that some of the criticism out there holds water. It does, and the CrossFit brand would do itself a lot of favors to check its ego once in awhile.

    • Brian B

      I think it is great that you were there providing medical coverage for the Regional. But how many boxes have medical coverage day in and day out? I recently called a couple boxes and I was told they have chiropractors that go in occasionally to adjust people and apply K-Tape. Other than that there is no medical coverage. If Crossfit is similar in injury rates to other sports like gymnastics why not hire an Athletic Trainer or PT to help out? I love Crossfit just think that there are some safety changes that can be made

      • CrossFit injury rates are not similar to those of gymnastics. Where did you get that idea? The only survey data available indicates CrossFit injury rates are indentical or less than general adult fitness training. Do you expect to see trained medical staff standing by in 24 hour fitness?

      • Here is what you basically just said: “I agree the data shows CrossFit is no more risky than normal fitness training but I have a special knowledge that overrules this evidence.” That’s a pretty weak argument.

        It’s also worth pointing out that CrossFit is suing the NSCA for publishing fabricated data, not just data we dislike. This blog has the details if you care to read more.

      • Brian B

        I am not going to respond to that because you are putting words in my mouth…Again why wouldn’t boxes hire an Athletic Trainer to help out…I enjoy watching Crossfit and it has inspired me to do more oly lifting. I just feel that Crossfit is more than just an exercise program it is more like a sport (especially at the higher levels). If professional, semi-pro, colliegiate, high school and even some (not all) recreational sports hire Athletic Trainers to help reduce injury (whatever the rate may be) why can’t a box?

      • You said that CrossFit injury rates are above that of general fitness training. The available data show the opposite. You ignored that.

        Now you’re failing to distinguish between a tiny fraction of CrossFit athletes who treat it as a sport and the majority of our community that doesn’t. I know of gyms that have athletic trainers, sports psychologists, and physical therapists. They also have Games-level athletes. To imply this should be the standard for all is silly.

      • Brian B

        I want to make it clear that I am not attacking Crossfit HQ or any box. I just think Crossfit has a great opportunity to change people’s lives through exercise and relationships. Another way they can help make people’s lives better is by providing some sort of medical coverage and Athletic Trainers are the perfect fit for this.

      • Brian B

        I did not say that “CrossFit injury rates are above that of general fitness training” as you claim. I said that “you and I both know that CrossFit is different than 24 hour fitness. It is more intense.”..Again you are changing my words.

        Why can’t all of the members receive services of Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists and Sports Psychologist? Do just the “game-level” athletes deserve them? I would imagine that if you asked some boxes and members if they would like to have medical personnel on staff they would say yes. I know that I would.

        Again I ask why can’t all boxes have them? It would not be that hard for a box to hire one and even have that Athletic Trainer be a coach who is level 1 certified or higher.

        I also know of Athletic Trainers that volunteer at boxes, but as an Athletic Trainer, and enjoyer of Crossfit, I would like to see more boxes with medical coverage. I think it could help Crossfit as a whole and each member/athlete.

      • Games-level athletes are not the only ones the “deserve” access to PT’s or other such medical care or attention, but going as hard as they do on a day-to-day basis, many of them (who more often than not own the affiliate they train in) keep a PT on staff. But for HQ to require affiliate owners to have a PT or medical services on-site would make it a huge barrier to entry to affiliate. That’s a massive cost to the affiliate owner who, more than likely, is a middle class person trying to run a small business. If clients do their homework, they will shop around for a good coach with a great deal of knowledge and experience, and not need Kelly Starrett watching their every move in the gym. It’s a crazy notion to have medical staff on call or in the gym all the hours it’s open, and largely not necessary. How many gyms (24 hour fitness, Golds, CrossFit Affiliate, MMA gym, etc.) have medical services on site all day? I would argue very, very few.

  5. iwcpkevin

    Of course, the source of the problem is that people/media are conflating “CrossFit, Inc” with CrossFit type workouts and competition.

    How does CrossFit, Inc intend to combat this? There are competitions every weekend that are run by affiliates. It’s hard for anyone to understand that these are somehow not “CrossFit” competitions.

    • Russ Greene

      We do it the same way we stop non-CrossFit gyms from offering CrossFit classes. We educate first, then warn, then act. And we correct the press when they get this wrong. It’s working.

      • CJ

        I think everyone who’s seen the video of Mr. Ogar’s lift will acknowledge that it was a 1-in-a-million incident, and that’s part of the problem. Copyright protection is important, but all this hair-splitting over what ‘counts’ as Crossfit or not closes the walls around you when something likes happens at a CF affiliate and it makes as much noise in the press (it will- it’s only a matter of time). You’d be wiser to point out the obvious (someone who falls off a pullup bar needs to cut their reps short and put some chalk on), not specifying how it doesn’t count as a “Crossfit injury.” The next time a freak accident happens, people are going to link back to these articles with claws pointed- “Why, Russell, do the specifics matter now? You can’t back out of THIS one.”

      • Russ Greene

        The point of this article was not to debunk the fact that injuries occur in CrossFit, as they do in all exercise programs.

        Rather, my goal was to show the inaccuracies in ESPN’s content regarding CrossFit. For that reason I concentrated on the disprovable factual errors that they made, and have not yet corrected.

  6. The video is misleading and forgets to clarify one point that’s critical to all of this and that’s “Personal responsibility for one’s safety”. It was Hawley’s desire AND decision, to go unbroken that put him in harm’s way. People are injured more often walking down stairs than in CrossFit. Should we ban stairs from any building? (Oh wait, we need those in case elevators fail). “Go to failure” has never been taught in my CrossFit gym, rather it’s finding the “red-line” and hovering below that, as well as finding one’s max-SUSTAINABLE-pace. My coaches encourage us to “push through”, but never at the risk of form or injury. You can’t get shows “pulled”, but it’s the word-of-mouth education and the community that offsets these schlock stories. I know few who watch these stories and are radically challenged, but it gives those of us in each community a place to show the naysayers wrong.

  7. Derek Kneadler

    Russ Greene, I love the article and have been reading your stuff for a long time, as I have been also following Russell Berger too(we both served at 1st Ranger Battalion). I thought this might be a good opportunity to share some experience, I’m hoping this makes sense as to why I’m sharing here, because while I agree this ESPN ep seems to fail I do think there is room to improve on quality control or at least talk about (mainly the Competition side).

    Very valid points that ESPN failed to investigate or they just ignored. That being said I do like seeing outside journalism get involved with CrossFit and more importantly the Sport side, it’s good to get unbiased media, this just seems to be bad journalism. I would love to see more outside voices, specifically in the Sport side. Here is why in my humble opinion.

    I have tired to share my injury that I suffered at Southwest Regionals this year in order improve the Sport, like any Sport does, it learns and evolves. I tore my ACL and other stuff on the Legless Rope climbs. I came off the rope at I think about normal height(6-7feet)everyone else was jumping from, but my foot landed in the very end of the rope. There was about 1-2 feet of rope on the ground, I saw this before the event as it was odd and made mental note. Well my ankle rolled and my knee went a direction it should not go and “pop”.

    The reason I emailed my story to someone very high up at HQ was to just let them know, as I know I was not the ONLY person to tear their ACL on the rope event. One person is freak accident, but at least two?? Why were the ropes so long when HQ knew people were jumping off? My other reason for sharing was their was absolutely zero medical staff to help me. I hobbled over to the medical tent and I was handed a 2-3 page form saying that CF wasn’t responsible and a small “emergency ice pack” the ones that you break and they get cold. I asked for someone to help me and nobody was trained, no PT or Ortho. High School football games have PTs and Orthopedic Surgeon there in case of life threatening injury, clearly mine wasn’t, but what if it had been! That was my main reason for brining this up to HQ. I was told to see the Rock Tape guys and see if they could fix me up, I looked at my buddy and we decided to seek medical help elsewhere.

    So I think that is a very valid point on where CF could learn to do more in the future and improve
    My email got me no response. I was disappointed. I love CrossFit and it has given me a lot.
    I only wish to help it succeed as the more it does, the more we all do.

    Derek Kneadler

    • JD

      A female athlete also broke her foot in the NorCal region on this event. I do believe HQ improved safety on that event, though, as The Games had thick crash mats at the bottom of the ropes and ‘controlled descent’ as a requirement.

    • Derek,
      I’m posting Dave Castro’s response to your comment here. I wasn’t there, but he was:

      “I personally walked over to see how you were doing, I saw you in a medical area with at least 5 medical people around you. I asked them what you were doing and I was told you were signing a waiver that said you were good and wanted to be released to do your own thing. I then asked you if you were good and you said yes.
      You were also handed an ice pack once you finished the event over the fence.
      There was Paramedics, EMT’s, PT staff, RN’s, and an athletic trainer all on the medical team at your regional.” – Dave Castro

      • Derek kneadler

        Russell, thank you for the response. The bottom line is I was told to see the Rock Tape guys, the medical person at the Regional Event said to go see the Rock Tape guys. I know that you and Dave don’t know me personally, but I am a man of good character and I am not a liar. Once again, I will repeat this, the highest medical staff I saw there told me to go to the Rock Tape guys.

        Thank you,

      • peterhoffman

        The attempt to clear this up via a he said/she said response on social media is really telling. One of your best representatives trying to tell the organization that it has some kinks to work out, and does so in a really civil and constructive way, and the response is basically a social media post saying “Our guy says otherwise, so there.”

        I can only hope that there was an attempt to reach out to Derek privately and find some kind of agreeable conclusion, which would seem to be the right thing to do.

      • Russ Greene

        Derek has spoken to Russell and other members of CrossFit HQ privately as well. His points about improvements, however intended, only have merit to the extent that they correspond to reality. This is why it’s essential that we ascertain not just his version of events, or anyone else’s but what actually happened.

  8. I obviously love ESPN because of all the entertainment it brings. Slightly disappointing about the piece, though. Makes me wonder about how much stuff they leave off other episodes of OTL. However, I really doubt this will have much effect. I don’t think it’ll persuade anyone against CrossFit who’s already in it. And people on the fringe will make their own decision to test it for themselves.

    As a CrossFit gym owner, I am not the slightest bit concerned.

  9. mattspringer226

    “…actions of those imitating our methodology […] undermines the very quality-control systems we have in place.”

    Let’s assume these non-sanciton event organizers, who ‘imitate CrossFit methodology’, are perhaps affiliate owners — or at the very least train other’s in the methodology, thereby having attended a L1. Why, then, does your team seemingly stand behind one and not the other? What makes event programming damnified in this case when event organizers and affiliate personnel are wearing the same hat? The knowledge base of physiology and stress response is not changing from one arena to the other.

    Related to non-sanctioned event quality control, can you speak to a time in the future where such events will be review by HQ? Such a review process would qualify all areas of a competitive event. Obtaining such approval would assist folks, like myself, which events are expected to be conducted professionally with safety measures in place.

    TLDR; I am simply trying to wrap my head around how CF ‘properly licenses’ individuals with affiliation to train General Joe and Jane, day-in-and-out, but will not do so for an event. Why does one uphold intellectual property and quality but the other does not?


  10. G Fryer

    And you are surprised because… ? The main stream media has been doing this to anyone with with whom they disagree for at least the last 20 years — that means gun owners, libertarians, conservatives, religious groups…. Anything positive is not mentioned, and negative news is highlighted. We all know bad news sells. It’s ironic that Crossfit builds discipline and camaraderie despite the fact that, as a country, we no longer seem to value honesty and integrity. This degradation has been a long time coming… It won’t change anytime soon. I wish it weren’t so.

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  12. Matt,
    Our entire system of educational offerings, as well as our affiliate business model, are based around the idea of licensing trainers who will teach CrossFit to clients to improve their health and fitness. Organizing and hosting fitness competitons is a completely different activity, and if you’ve done both you should recognize this. We don’t condemn or disallow affiliates from hosting or participaing in events like this, but while these events may be inspired by the CrossFit methodology (as are the Games) they are not CrossFit. No more than a game of pick-up football in the park represents the NFL.

    • TK


      You can try and speak logic to those that don’t understand. The people criticizing crossfit just don’t get it. I have watched numerous LA Fitness “trainers” teach bad technique setting people up for injury, yet they don’t speak up because it’s their gym and there “qualified” trainers are legit.

    • Ian J

      “No more than a game of pick-up football in the park represents the NFL.”

      That’s a seemingly apt analogy, but consider this point. A high school game of football isn’t the NFL, either, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a large backlash over the safety of both high school and pro football for similar reasons (concussions). So while the NFL can’t control what happens in high schools, nor should they be responsible for it…the underlying game– Football– is dangerous.

      There’s a few issues in play though that make the analogy a little more challenging, though. For starters, CrossFit the brand, invented CrossFit the sport/exercise/methodology, etc. NFL didn’t invent football. NBA didn’t invent basketball. So there’s an added layer of association that CrossFit the brand will have for the foreseeable future with CrossFit the sport/exercise/methodology that sports like the NFL doesn’t have to contend with.

      The fact that CrossFit the brand also has affiliates that encourage amateur athletes to join, which then put on events where injuries occur further murkies the water. Although affiliates are independently owned and operated, as long as they pay yearly fees to use the CrossFit brand name, most reasonable people are going to say, “Well, we understand that Crossfit HQ has no control over these events, but they are implicitly involved because they accept the yearly fees from these people, accept the money for certifications from these people…so they might not be legally liable for an injury at an affiliate, but as long as they’re taking money from affiliates, there’s a connection there.”

      If CrossFit the brand was serious about separating themselves from anything that occurs at these subsidiary events or affiliates, they would sever all ties of affiliation with them– like the NPGL has done. As long as there is even the slightest sense of affiliation, CrossFit the brand will seem somewhat disingenuous by saying, “Well, these events happen at non-sanctioned events, so…not our problem!” Yeah, it’s not your problem…but it is, because CrossFit the brand and CrossFit the sport continue to be linked by ties of affiliation/money/certification. CrossFit is unique in the sense that it offers certifications, accepts affiliation fees, hosts yearly competitions, and allows affiliates to host their own competitions that use the methodology.

      So, it might not seem “fair,” but it’s the bed that CrossFit has made for itself given its business model.

      A further issue is that CrossFit the brand will AGGRESSIVELY pursue those who they believe misuse their intellectual property and trademarks…but CrossFit doesn’t publicly shame the OC Throwdown, for example, despite the fact that it’s literally a carbon copy of the Crossfit Games in structure, the competitors have huge overlap, and the people who run it are all CrossFit certified and most of them coach or own their own affiliates. That implies that CrossFit the brand implicitly accepts the affiliation with events like the OC Throwdown. If they truly weren’t affiliated w/something like the OC Throwdown, CrossFit the brand would be doing the public shaming thing they do with places that rip off CrossFit IP, or considering legal action for defamation or something along those lines. But they aren’t. So people assume CrossFit the brand accepts the association with the OC Throwdown.

    • Jordan

      So when you say CrossFit you are referring to CrossFit the company not a training methodology. That’s like data coming out about football injuries and the NFL saying “those were pickup games of football not NFL sanctioned games” the fact still stands that those were injuries that occurred WHILE PLAYING FOOTBALL.

      • Russ Greene

        The sport is fitness, not CrossFit. CrossFit is a specific brand of training.

        So to your point.

        NFL:Football::CrossFit Inc. : Fitness

      • Jordan

        Fitness isn’t a sport. Soccer is a sport. Basketball is a sport. And now because of the Games, CrossFit is a sport.

        Are you saying that people who are not hurt in a “CrossFit sanctioned event” do not count as CrossFit injuries? The person doing Fran at a local CrossFit gym doesn’t count as an injury? Or do they have to have a licensed CrossFit coach for it to be CrossFit? Or do they have to be wearing a Reebok shirt?

      • Jordan you have it backwards. CrossFit is a brand and a trademark. CrossFit doesn’t own the methodology, movements, or workouts we identify it with any more than the NFL owns football. Just because you start a pick-up game of football in the part doesn’t mean you are playing in an NFL event.

      • Ryan

        Out of curiosity, what term should ESPN and other critics of the methodology use, since you aren’t happy with them using CrossFit? It’s my opinion that it is a badge of honor to be the main term people use for a methodology that is changing peoples lives, even if some are getting injured and those injuries end up in the press. Most incidents wouldn’t make it past a personal blog or a single tweet if you would just leave em be. People get hurt, some people whine about it and spend the rest of their life sitting on their behind in front of the tv.

        On a personal note, I got Rhabdo, spent five days in the hospital. I was doing CrossFit, do I blame it for what happened? No. Although I do think more education is needed for trainers and clients, I did not listen to my body and I knew I was pushing too hard. I recovered and now I’m back and have tried to pull back a bit, so far so good.

      • Landon

        I will say, Russ – you walk a very fine line the way you characterize what CrossFit is. CrossFit is actually the WODs that have been created and performed every day all over the world – don’t skirt around that fact. No intelligent person competing in a local competition will distinguish that competition as being something other than a CrossFit competition. You’ve disallowed affiliates from using the name CrossFit in their competitions – but that’s what they are. I do them all the time, by the way.

      • You’re conflating the methodology of CV, FM, performed at HI with CrossFit. All CrossFit is CVFMHI but not all CVFMHI is CrossFit. Your view has two logical conclusions- CrossFit owns this methodology and anyone who ever uses burpees and thrusters owe us a royalty check, or CrossFit is a generic term that no one owns. The first is silly and the second has been knocked out by several major legal battles and the fact that CrossFit is a federally registered trademark.

    • mattspringer226

      Russell, thanks for the reply.

      I have done both — business/event organization — and can appreciate the disparities between the two, particularly in logistics. However, programming between both entities are not widely separated in knowledge. All responders to this thread have likely reviewed competition programming with concern for the safety of its competitors. What if, whomever programmed these events, continues from that weekend to program for their affiliate? Why wouldn’t HQ therefore be concerned for the ongoing quality and safety of affiliate members?

      Based on your original comment of folks “imitating our methodology”, I still understand this as ‘imitation’ as happening under multiple scenarios — including affiliated, L1 individuals programming local events. I hope your organization takes responsibility to lead the industry in QC/QA of these issues.

      Which brings me back to the root of my original inquiry….

      Can you comment on a day when independent entities can file for licensing to call themselves an official ‘CrossFit’ competition? This brings consumers awareness to multiple fronts and benefits all involved.

    • Nick

      The same methodology? No. It’s the same. It’s the same because the games just had Grace in their competition and a smaller show I was at a couple months ago had Grace in it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t HQ make these particular “named” workouts up? So if another show is using the workout, by it’s name, then it’s not just the same methodology, it’s the same. Unfortunately for you guys your company is named after your sport. Crossfitters call what they’re doing “crossfit”. Mma fighters don’t say “I do UFC”. You’re always arguing semantics. Smaller competitions are still crossfit, they’re just not Crossfit. Stop alienating your customers.

      • Nick, you’re operating on a definition of CrossFit that’s incorrect. CrossFit doesn’t own functional movements or rep-schemes. We don’t have a patent on 30 clean and jerks done as quickly as possible. Can we call “Grace” our trademark description of this? I think so, but we don’t actually own the methodology Greg Glassman defined any more than Newton owned the laws of Gravity. CrossFit is a Brand. This means that all CrossFit is CVFM done at HI, but not all CVFM done at HI is CrossFit.

        Your analogy is actually correct, CrossFit is like the UFC, a private brand that licenses competitions to use the name “UFC.” Anyone can compete in “fitness competitions” as that its he generic sport we are talking about, but only CrossFit can choose who gets to call a competition a “CrossFit competition.” You are right that we are talking about semantics right now, that’s key to correcting the common ignorance of how to use our brand name that you are displaying.

      • Russ, what you’re facing here is a communications dilemma. You and I have both been doing CrossFit for years, and I’ve even had the pleasure of working out right along side you. Heck, I started in 2005 when there were only 11 gyms in the US. When I started, CVFM at HI was not a popular way to exercise, and to my knowledge there were no competitions for such. Because of this I never thought of CVFM at HI as a sport. Then CrossFit came along and popularized the methodology and started having competitions. This is where CVFM at HI evolved into the sport we know and love today. The problem, in my opinion, is that CrossFit did a very poor job of attempting to differentiate the brand from the sport at the beginning and well into it’s rise to popularity (2008 and on).

        My friends and I did “CrossFit” independently up until a couple years ago. We mostly followed main site and then began to follow some affiliates. If someone asked me what I was doing or how I was staying in shape, my answer was undoubtedly “CrossFit” because laymen still don’t view CVFM at HI as sport. They view CrossFit as the sport because HQ failed to communicate the difference in its infancy. They may be incorrect referring to CF as a sport, but they do so because that’s what has been communicated to them up until the last couple of years. And now you’re fighting an uphill battle trying to make that distinction (though I do believe it needs to be made).

        The NFL is actually a good example of how CrossFit could have branded themselves to make that distinction clear. NFL contains the name of the sport in the brand. The same goes for all the top professional sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, PGA, etc). CrossFit did not choose to call themselves the National Constantly Varied Functional Movement at High Intensity League (NCVFMHIL – what a mouthful!) but instead chose a brand that doesn’t explain what the actual sport is. That breeds confusion and miscommunication, and thus why you’ve had to correct almost every other person in this thread, including those that are doing CrossFit at affiliates like me.

      • mat1683

        Russ, what you’re facing here is a communications dilemma. You and I have both been doing CrossFit for years, and I’ve even had the pleasure of working out right along side you. Heck, I started in 2005 when there were only 11 gyms in the US. When I started, CVFM at HI was not a popular way to exercise, and to my knowledge there were no competitions for such. Because of this I never thought of CVFM at HI as a sport. Then CrossFit came along and popularized the methodology and started having competitions. This is where CVFM at HI evolved into the sport we know and love today. The problem, in my opinion, is that CrossFit did a very poor job of attempting to differentiate the brand from the sport at the beginning and well into it’s rise to popularity (2008 and on).

        My friends and I did “CrossFit” independently up until a couple years ago. We mostly followed main site and then began to follow some affiliates. If someone asked me what I was doing or how I was staying in shape, my answer was undoubtedly “CrossFit” because laymen still don’t view CVFM at HI as sport. They view CrossFit as the sport because HQ failed to communicate the difference in its infancy. They may be incorrect referring to CF as a sport, but they do so because that’s what has been communicated to them up until the last couple of years. And now you’re fighting an uphill battle trying to make that distinction (though I do believe it needs to be made).

        The NFL is actually a good example of how CrossFit could have branded themselves to make that distinction clear. NFL contains the name of the sport in the brand. The same goes for all the top professional sports (NBA, MLB, NFL, PGA, etc). CrossFit did not choose to call themselves the National Constantly Varied Functional Movement at High Intensity League (NCVFMHIL – what a mouthful!) but instead chose a brand that doesn’t explain what the actual sport is. That breeds confusion and miscommunication, and thus why you’ve had to correct almost every other person in this thread, including those that are doing CrossFit at affiliates like me.

      • You’re right, this is a common confusion, but I think it has resulted from the massive and rapid growth of CrossFit. In some ways we are playing catch-up in educating people who have only learned of CrossFit through word of mouth or inaccurate press like this ESPN article.

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  15. ” They had already been de-affiliated and started a competing brand – Iron Tribe Fitness.”

    Could you please clarify if they were de-affilated for being dangerous. Or was it about money ?

    • ITF wrote us a letter stating their intention to deaffiliate so they could pursue a franchise business model that we would not allow. They are now a direct competitor to CrossFit and as such obviously cannot offer CrossFit training.

  16. Matt

    To whom it concerns: I personally implemented Crossfit into my classes at a certain training center and had no injuries related to exercise/Crossfit. I did have one guy vault a wall and break his leg but that was on a obstacle course. I used main page Crossfit for 2 years with a average of 125-250 students a week. You do the math. ESPN ranks up there with the main stream media, made up or fictitious news to fit their ideology or beliefs. If I want the truth I go find it myself for I know it will not come from TV. Anyone can get hurt anytime doing anything. With the research I have done and the experience I have, the most injury prone is jogging/running. Why as some will ask? (To much running,or to fast, or to far, to soon.) That goes for anything that includes exercise. It seems that a little personal responsibility in this world would do a lot of good. I use Crossfit to this day and have been since 2001. I have trained thousands ranging in age from 4-60 years old. Am I a great trainer? I don’t know. However, no trainer can keep everyone they work with from ever getting injured if they will not listen to you. Even then it can still happen. I was in a situation above in which I had extreme control over the classes I taught so this played a huge factor in no injury rates. It is definitely different in the civilian world. Just my two cents. This isn’t the first or last time ESPN will do something like this.

    • Because it never should have been approved. I delete comments that imply a level of ignorance that would make our response a waste of time. You can try again, but as soon as you started talking about lawsuits it became clear to me you have not read anything written by us about that subject.

    • Brian B

      I agree… There are two sides to every lawsuit and a discussion involves both sides. One of my comments was deleted as well. I believe it was because I mentioned that Crossfit was in a lawsuit with the NSCA for publishing incorrect data (according to the suit). I didn’t know that was ignorant

      • As with Tristan, your comment shouldn’t have been approved. It was my mistake for approving a group of comments and then checking them after. You wrote “There was other research done by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning and Crossfit didn’t like the results and are suing them.” That’s all I needed to see to know that you are either profoundly ignorant of the lawsuit you are trying to talk about or biased to the point that responding to you would be a waste of time.

      • Brian B

        Russell, We do not know the exact injury rates of Crossfit. For arguments sake, we will say there is no valuable data on it. But what I can tell you as a medical professional, I have seen injuries that resulted from Crossfit. People do get hurt and need medical attention. A reason why it gets a lot of attention is because of the growing popularity of Crossfit and some (not all) of the injuries are catastrophic. What my point has been from the beginning is Boxes should hire Athletic Trainers or other medical professionals to help treat these members.

      • Brian, you’re still discounting published academic data that says that CrossFit has injury rates similar to general fitness training. When I bring this up you simply ignore me and continue to insinuate that CrossFit is riskier than these activities. You’ve given no argument or evidence to support a rejection of the Hak survey data, and therefore your argument for having “medical staff” on site in affiliates should apply equally to any fitness center in the world, which we would both recognize as silly and unnecessary.

      • Brian B

        Admittedly I do not know about the survey data. I do not know how the research was done, where it was published or anything about it. That is why I do not want to comment on it.

        One thing you are saying is that my post was removed because “That’s all I needed to see to know that you are either profoundly ignorant of the lawsuit you are trying to talk about or biased to the point that responding to you would be a waste of time.” (according to you). Somehow I am biased when I have nothing riding on this lawsuit but you (your employer) is the plaintiff in the suit. To me that makes you incredibly biased.

        Also you do not criticize other people who post on this article when they provide false data when it is in your favor. Jonathan Cragle said “People are injured more often walking down stairs than in CrossFit”. But I did not see you jump up and say that is incorrect. You can’t shut down some people and not others who “give incorrect data”.

        You are also telling me that it is “silly” to have medical coverage at boxes. Can you tell me at what point does Crossfit offer medical coverage? According to Derek “their was absolutely zero medical staff to help me”. This was at the Southwest Regional when he tore his ACL. According to him there was another participant who also tore their ACL.

        You also said that some boxes have Athletic Trainers. That is great. But why can’t more boxes get them? That has been my point the whole time. All I have gotten back is you putting words in my mouth and telling me it’s silly. I just it could help the increase the safety (even if the injury numbers are low according to some data).

        You should be very happy right now. The Games just concluded and crowned two great champions. It is the highlight of Crossfit and puts them in the public eye.

        I enjoy Crossfit and think that they do great things. Way more positive than negative. But you being so defensive is not a good look.

      • If you think it’s “defensive” of me to correct ESPN’s public errors, and then yours, then we must have a different understanding of what that word means. I’m also not deleting comments for people having opinions or stating facts I disagree with. I’m deleted your comment about our lawsuit because claiming we are suing the NSCA because we didn’t like the results of a study they published shows an incredible ignorance of the facts of the case and I don’t have time to deal with that type of insincerity.

  17. Nate

    Coming from ESPN, I’m not surprised. Their coverage of the games was horrific, by the way. Mainstream media is always looking for someone or something to blame – that seems to sell really well for some reason. How about people start accepting responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming others when things go wrong? CF is the most complete, comprehensive, and effective fitness program. Ever. Period. It does however require physical activity, and that means there is a chance for injury (gasp). If you get hurt, that is your fault, not CF’s. Based on frequency of injuries, basketball is the most dangerous sport out there. How many ankles get rolled coming down on someone else’s foot after a rebound? That doesn’t mean you blame the NBA or the sport of basketball. It’s a shame that in spite of all the positivity and great things that CF has given to so many people, it has to come under attack from these hack journalists who are just looking to push their mass negative media.

  18. It’s a big argument of CrossFit vs. crossfit. HQ (rightfully) is trying to defend their trademarked name. I think it’s a battle they’re going to lose. Doing intense exercise for time is now crossfit, HQ should almost rebrand themselves somehow to differentiate. I have no idea how this would be done, or how much money it could cost them.

    But as a rebuttal to your NFL example, you don’t see kids going outside and saying “I’m going to go play NFL” they say they are playing football. So you can’t call all football injuries, NFL injuries. That is just not true for CrossFit, if I do an at home exercise against my friend…we call it crossfit, which is the same name as the corporate entity. It’s unfortunate for HQ, but that is just how it is.

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  20. Jesse Keen

    The Russells –

    I watched the piece and I tried to do so ‘objectively’. It was difficult with having my own strong opinions. I agreed greatly at the ‘general’ statement that the antagonists are motivated by “jealousy.” I have often communicated that very sentiment on blogs and comments before. However, reading your blog made me lose a little respect for the approach. I think that you sound as if you have something to fear. It seems to stoop towards the bravado that the anti-Crossfit people claim that HQ has. ESPN became what they became for a reason. By not acknowledging that, in this example, you failed to recognize the big fish in the room, when they said quite directly, they think of Crossfit as “rogue”. I think that the piece was quite consistent with coverage they have on numerous sports. There is no utopian village that has a Crossfit box, the world of Crossfit now exists with the rest of the sporting world. With that, unfortunately, comes worldly problems. Crossfit has grown for a reason and some of what they said is the perception, if not true, but that really doesn’t matter, because you are intelligent enough to know that “perception is reality” and unfortunately in this example you ‘failed’ to recognize that. Hopefully you are as critical of yourself and as of Crossfit as ESPN, as a Crossfit supporter, I need the sport to follow its creed and be prepared for the challenges in this real world of ‘constantly varied’ and ever changing.

    • I agree that this piece is consistent with the coverage they have done of other sports, but our argument is not that ESPN is being unfair to us, or we deserve some special privilege as a business partner with ESPN. Our complaint is against the factual inaccuracies they have published about CrossFit. If that’s what you mean by “consistent” and they get their facts wrong enough, and regularly enough that you think we ought to have known better, then I won’t argue with you. I’m not an expert in ESPN’s journalistic history. If you are suggesting we should roll over and allow ESPN to publish this type of yellow journalism without challenging them, I think you are wrong. Especially if your only argument is that they are the “big fish in the room.”

  21. I think the football analogy is a little simplistic but makes the point. I guess the issue is that since CrossFit has become so large and well known as a brand, many things related to functional fitness are assumed to CrossFit or part of CrossFit. When a CrossFit affiliate hosts an event, it is assumed it is a CrossFit event since it is hosted by a CrossFit affiliate. Maybe the only way to have that not happen is for boxes not to use “CrossFit” in their name but I do not see that happening.

    Russ, does HQ provide direction on how an affiliate should present/market an event that it holds since any event not put on by HQ is not a CrossFit event?

    To the point made above about having medical coverage/athletic trainers at a box…I don’t know of many, if any, regular gyms to provide this. I would think the contract you sign releases the gym from any liabiltiy for injury unless it’s due to equipment failure and a person should carry their own insurance, though I know that’s not always the case (ie, Kevin Ogar). Providing this kind of coverage is an added expense for a gym and also a legal issue I would think.

  22. brandon

    While not a licensed CrossFit competition, the throwdown was a competition in the model of the CrossFit games. Their point may be technically incorrect because this was not a CrossFit competition but they (incorrectly) were referring to crossfit (lower case C) competitions.

    • Ryan

      Agreed, ESPN is using the global CrossFit term for the style of workout, while the dispute HQ has is that is wasn’t a CFHQ sanctioned event. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a CF style event ran by leaders/box owners in the local CF community who knew what they were doing. Why can’t they just point out that Ogar was a well rounded athlete with a history of weightlifting and something went horribly wrong just like in can in many different ways, instead of trying to say that since it wasn’t sanctioned, it wasn’t CrossFit.

      In regards to the toes to bar not being at an affiliate, well the exact same thing happened during the regionals event so let’s not get carried away. Accidents happen, own up to em, don’t cover them up. Learn from them and then go out and teach about it to try and keep it from happening again.

      • Jordan

        I agree wholeheartedly Ryan. People including the media refer to Crossfit as a game/method/sport, not a company/corporation. Trying to separate the two is ridiculous. What is also ridiculous is that circuit training existed long before the term “CrossFit” was coined so in actuality CrossFit injuries are just weight training generic fitness injuries.

  23. Matt D

    Your first mistake was assuming that the producers intent was pure journalism. ESPN is in the entertainment business and they’re making content they know people will watch and discuss. Same as you guys.

  24. Landon

    Been doing CrossFit for almost 8 years – never seen anyone in the multiple classes I’ve participated in at many different boxes get hurt. I’ve injured myself a couple of times in that span. Most injured people had injuries caused by other activities prior to starting CrossFit. If it was true that injuries are so prevalent then lots of people would be getting hurt in classes everyday, all day – that ain’t happenin’. This injury topic is WAY over blown.

  25. Please don’t flame me here but this is what I think about all of this.
    People have freedom of choice of what they want to do in life. Whether it be taking supplements to medication to the way you workout. I am new to crossfit (3 months). I choose to do it. But I also have done my research. I went to several Boxes in my area and could go to one 5 minutes from my house, but after watching and doing my research I chose to go to one 20 minutes form my house, I didn’t think the first option was a good fit for me because of the lack of trainers and also a personal reason. I do know that both are approved affiliates but the one I am choosing to go to seems better structured and safer. At my age the last thing I want are more injuries. I am 42 years old and have been in a gym for over a decade and have had back issues and elbow issues by working out in my local gym with and without a trainer. Now that my form has been corrected I feel stronger and more confident in the lifts i am doing. I have had several people tell me not to do crossfit because I would get injured. I have actually been injured mountain biking. But I choose to mountain bike and I choose to do crossfit. I see a huge difference between the local global gym over crossfit. To start crossfit (at my box) has multiple trainers on the floor during class, correcting form, and scaling workouts to each individual to prevent injury. I could go to my local gym and decide I want to try and deadlift 500 pounds and hurt myself. My box wouldnt allow that and they have a huge emphasis on safety being the number one goal for all their members. I really think it comes down to each individual doing research and knowing their limitations. For me I could try and go all out and keep up with the 22 year old in my class but you need to know your limitations. I think there are so many things that could be viewed as unsafe that you could be doing. I chose to go to a box that has mandatory foundation classes and safety measures in place, I could have chose the other box that just throws you into overhead squats on your first day. I think that those boxes will only hurt themselves in the long run by losing members. Unfortunately it is those boxes that have helped give crossfit the reputation. I know I went to one of these boxes for a week before I stopped and then did my research, I almost didn’t go back to crossfit but kept an open mind and looked at several other boxes before settling in at the one I am at now.

  26. Jeff P

    I agree with CrossFit Inc’s position to put the responsibility of injury on the person. Ultimately, each of us has a choice in what movements we perform for exercise. We must be accountable for our own safety, but as in everything carrying risk, there will be winners and losers. Trust your gut (self-preservation), or inform yourself before making a decision. People in general put too much faith in trainers and ask too few questions. I had a major injury performing a “crossfit-style” (for lack of a better word – functional just doesn’t sound right) movement at a high level in an unofficial competition, and I blame myself. Of course there was an element of “freak accident”, but I accepted the risk when I performed the movement.

    That said, with CrossFit Inc’s migration to mainstream fitness, they have greater attention of major media outlets and the general public. I’m not an expert, but I’d like to see CrossFit Inc mature their PR attitude, just slightly. I’ve been around long enough to get Castro’s comment “Approaching this with traditional methods of journalism will be what prevents this from happening. Nothing we do is traditional, nor should be your approach on covering us properly”. But is that the right response to give, really? I mean doesn’t anyone who’s devoted their life to anything think the same way?

    I like the libertarian, fitness counter-culture mindset, but maybe it’s time to trim back the perceived obnoxiousness to the public. It was fun before, but now there is more risk of it being spun by big media to damage CF Inc’s reputation. My opinion is that it’s too late to correct the course on this topic, even if they win the lawsuits. The unfortunate reality of our society is that eventually CF will have to acknowledge the public’s perception of their injury rates, regardless of the truth.

  27. Bolivar

    I just hope HQ and Kevin Ogar sue the hell out of ESPN. THOSE damn reporters do nothing but gossip worse than eight grade school girls. Funny how they want all of the coverage for the games and try to destroy it at the same time. Crossfit helps people feel better about themselves, not like these GLOBO gyms that have hundreds of members running around like chickens with no heads doing absolutely nothing to improve their health.

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  29. I made myself a promise that I would not engage in debate about CrossFit on the internet because it is generally pointless. People are going to have their opinions, and getting myself upset over the ignorance of others is a losing proposition for me. However, because I was IN this piece (jerking) and there when filming took place, I feel I must respond to this. In addition, Mike Burgener, along with CrossFit, has changed my life in so many positive ways that by staying silent, I feel I am complicit in perpetuating the one-sided reporting of this piece and hanging a man whom I love dearly out to dry – a man for whom INTEGRITY is EVERYTHING! Clearly, Mark Fainaru Wada and ESPN could learn a thing or two about integrity from Mike Burgener.
    This is yellow journalism at its worst, and frankly, I am shocked that an award-winning journalist like Mark Fainaru Wada would stoop to such low levels to create a sensational piece of garbage that I would expect of a publication like The National Enquirer.
    First, at no time was it ever disclosed to me, or to my knowledge, anyone else involved, that this piece would be a smear campaign against CrossFit. When ESPN contacted Coach Burgener, and he in turn contacted me, the piece was being pitched as a promotional piece for the CrossFit Games. As such, it, naturally it was assumed by all parties present that it would be a positive piece on CrossFit. Second, I emailed Mark Fainaru Wada after the piece and specifically thanked him for doing a segment on Coach Mike Burgener stating that this man has definitely changed my life for the better, along with thousands of others. Mark responded that the piece was on CrossFit, not Coach Burgener, but that he “was confident Coach Burgener will be prominently displayed.” I’m not sure what Mark Fainaru Wada considers “prominent,” but I would disagree that taking a few words out of context and twisting them to fit his agenda is not the kind of prominent, nor honest, journalistic portrayal that most people would appreciate. Mr. Fainaru Wada had an opportunity right there to at the very least, garner an opinion from the “other” side of the coin, and at the very most, disclose what this piece truly would be about. Again, this lie by omission brings his journalistic ethics into question.
    I do not know Kevin Ogar at all, but from what I understand he is a unique person in that he accepted responsibility for his own injury and has since tried to turn it into a positive for both himself and others. I am willing to speculate he does not appreciate his accident being exploited for ESPN’s less-than-upfront motives.
    This was a completely unbalanced, biased, and dishonest piece and I am horrified that ESPN would release a piece that is so clearly piece-mealed from fiction, half-truth and done in such a narrow scope. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I would never have participated in filming for this piece if I knew the slant it would take. Imagine my surprise when I saw this this morning. And I would never presume to speak for Mike Burgener, but knowing him as well as I do, I think it is safe to say he would never have agreed to this either. So, congratulations Mark Fainaru Wada, you lied to the most honest man on the planet in order to make a tabloid piece on a sport we all love, and you exploited a parapalegic to make your poorly supported point about a fictitious injury rate in CrossFit. You are clearly a real man.

    • Landon

      HQ really needs to reconsider their relationship with ESPN. What annoys me about the video about Rich winning the Games is the lack of background the reporter has on CrossFit such that he mischaracterized it and minimized it in the process. According to him Rich is now going to do “group competitions.” The inaccuracies that are constant about Crossfit in the media do a disservice to non-CrossFitters ’cause it mischaracterizes it and scares them off. The video streaming of the Games on ESPN 3 was an abomination – that’s enough as far as I’m concerned to tell ESPN to go screw themselves.

    • Kristine

      If you watched the piece, it ended with Hawley saying that CrossFit saved his life and that he still enjoys CrossFit. He is just asking for more oversight. As Burgener said, it is not possible for him to be at 9,000 different affiliates. And, I would assume that you would agree that no single person could learn as much as Burgener knows about Olympic Weightlifting in one weekend seminar. No one is questioning the benefits of CrossFit. What is being questioned is whether it is safe to allow someone with one weekend of training (that includes no anatomy and physiology requirements), to train casual gym goers or first-time weightlifters Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics movements. Hawley finished the piece by saying the programming just needs to be tweaked for the sake of safety. Requiring additional onramp classes for clients, requiring additional training for coaches to teach more intensive classes, or having a way that clients can lodge complaints to HQ about irresponsible coaching would all be ways that could help improve the safety. I’m sure that I will be shunned for writing anything that suggests that CrossFit could be improved- just like Hawley, and Derek Kneadler- but like them, I actually am a fan of the the training techniques, the community and have attended four CrossFit Regionals and 2 CrossFit Games. If you listen, you will see that the community is trying to help, not hurt.

      • Kristine, the problem with your comment is you were asking some reasonable questions, which I would happily respond to, as I don’t agree with your conclusions. Then you capped everything off with a comment about us “shunning” Hawley and Kneadler. I can’t get past that part because it seems like a baseless jab at us. Could please explain what you are talking about?

      • Kristine

        Russ, You’re right, I was misused the word, “shunning”. I just couldn’t get past where you had two athletes- Hawley and Kneadler, both who participated in the sport and who love it, comment here and mentioned in the article and you denied one’s participation and love of the sport, and denied any responsibility for the injuries at Regionals. From watching the Games, it looks like you did take proper precautions to fix this at the Games (requiring a controlled descent from the rope and providing a soft mat for landing) and that would be all you had to respond to Derek with. Shunning was not the correct word and I am sorry, but I don’t know if you realize how mean your response sounded to someone who is genuinely passionate about the sport and community. An apology and an explanation of new action being taken would show that you are a stand up guy building a fitness brand that is meant to help people live better, healthy lives- a brand people can get behind. A mean response can make people think CrossFit is a brand of bullies. Just as my words gave you the wrong impression of me, your words can make people think you are not the health-focused, family oriented, value-driven person representing a brand with similar values (which I believe you are).

      • We didn’t deny Hawley was participating in a sport, but CrossFit is not a sport. You are operating on an inaccurate, generic definition of CrossFit that we are correcting in this post. If ESPN wanted to find cases of injury in affiliates, they could have. What happened to Hawley was not something that couldn’t have happened in a CrossFit affiliate, but it didn’t. Saying it was a CrossFit injury was just bad reporting. Kneadler has presented a version of events that directly contradicts a number of witnesses to his injury, including the medical staff on site and the director of the CrossFit Games, who checked on him. It sounds as if he told everyone he was fine, so they let him go and simply recommendation he tape his leg. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t fine, but our medics don’t have x-ray vision. In both of these instances, we are simply working to discern truth from fiction, not “bully” people. Please give me a specific example of where that occurred and I will gladly apologize.

      • Derek kneadler

        Russell, I am very saddened to read this comment about me, especially from a another Ranger, you are calling me a liar?
        “Kneadler has presented a version of events that directly contradicts a number of witnesses to his injury, including the medical staff on site and the director of the CrossFit Games, who checked on him. It sounds as if he told everyone he was fine, so they let him go and simply recommendation he tape his leg. It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t fine, but our medics don’t have x-ray vision. In both of these instances, we are simply working to discern truth from fiction, not “bully” people.”

        I am NOT blaming anyone, but myself. I choose to compete and jump off rope. Go back and watch the video, I also took screen shot of the moment my foot landing on the end of the rope, the black piece being right under my foot, my ankle rolled and my knee popped. My intentions were to give this info to someone that could use it, hence my “private” email. I didn’t need anyone too tell me for sure my knee was damaged, I know that is impossible until MRI. Do you not realize that my ACL could have been only partially torn?? What if it had and I listened to the stellar advice to go to the Rock Tape guys and continue on!!! What medical professional would ever advise that?

        I did tell Dave I was fine, because I was (I wasn’t drying) and like you saw in my email I didn’t feel the need to bother him with my injury.

        I shared my story in a private email to HELP. My intentions are only to make things better, if my info was not helpful, fine. But now my integrity and honesty is being questioned.

        Russell if you know anyone still in Battalion or leaders that were in 2B, call them and mention my name and ask about my reputation. I did everything by the book and I always take responsibility for my actions. I spend hours each day on rehab( and will for next 9months) taking responsibility for my choice to compete and jump off the rope.

        Rangers Lead The Way!

      • I don’t think you are lying about anything. I don’t doubt that there were ropes trailing on the ground or that you were really injured. I hope that you recover fully and I hope that if there was anything about that setup that could be improved, it is next time. I only felt the need to respond to you because you said that there were “zero medical personnel” at Regionals to help you after your injury, and this comment directly contradicts what Dave Castro has to say about him checking on you at the event. This contradiction, and my experience with the Regionals leads me to think your recollection is wrong, or there was a misunderstanding you aren’t aware of. That’s all I’m suggesting. Putting out a public claim like that is something I have to deal with publicly, whether I want to or not.

      • Derek kneadler

        You are correct, I said “zero” medical staff and that is wrong and gave people the wrong idea. I said that because in my opinion it might as well been zero, the athletic trainer clearly was well out of her element and completely wrong to ever tell anyone to get taped up and continue on after saying it might be an ACL.

        I used my words poorly in my comment on your blog, I apologize for that.

        I really don’t want to take up anymore of your time or anyone’s else’s. Again, I should have been more clear in my comment, that’s my fault and I see what you mean by that, thanks.

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  31. Nick

    I cannot believe they let you guys (the Russells) do this. This is the second time a link on my Facebook page has brought me to this blog, both times my comment was not approved , and both times I have read through all of the comments to see the same damn thing….the Russells absolutely refusing to see anybody else’s point besides their own. Just awful.

    • Nick, your previous comment was a one-line insult. We approve comments that disagree with us, but aren’t going to approve comments that are just knee-jerk emotional reactions. If you want a place where you can call us names without having to intelligently reflect on our posts, go start your own blog.

  32. Eric

    Crossfit is intense which is why so many of us love it, but injuries do happen with intense activities. In many movements it can take just one rep with poor form and you can be hurt; if you do 20 deadlifts with perfect form under coach’s supervision then if you round your back on the 21st and injure yourself is it Crossfit’s fault? Is it your coach’s fault? I think at some level you need to take some personal responsibility and say “I messed up that last rep and hurt myself”.

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  34. Nick

    If you’re saying crossfit is like the UFC, well then we’ll go with that. the UFC has to stand by the fact that MMA injuries are counted whether they happen in the UFC or at a small show in Philly I was at last week so the same should go for crossfit. The OC throwdown/smaller fitness competitions and the crossfit games are both the sport of fitness (which sounds ridiculous btw; you’re further discrediting your “sport” by saying this) and they judge/test fitness in the same exact way (sometimes using the same exact “named” workouts) so crossfit must, in turn, be lumped in with these shows when injuries happen. Does dana white get pissed that the UFC is lumped in when somebody gets paralyzed in a local show? Yes. Is it fair? Not to him. Is it reasonable to lump them together? Absolutely. And I would go even further and say that smaller crossfit/fitness competitions are run more competently than small Mma shows so you guys actually have less to piss and moan about.

    Let’s go one step further tho. You’re calling it the sport of fitness and that’s just untrue. Ironman competitions are fitness, but they’re distinguished as ironman so their injuries can’t be lumped in with crossfit. Same with marathon running, swimming, adventure racing, whatever. So what distinguishes your sport? Fitness is not a sport! The term fitness has been around forever as has never been defined as a sport. You can’t just change the definition of the word. Football since it’s inception is a sport, same with basketball, hockey, and so on. Crossfit must distinguish it’s sport from fitness and anything else. Then they can have their company name, their sport name is clearly defined, and smaller shows can use this sport name (but not the term crossfit) and everybody will be happy. Until this happens you’re going to be arguing a lost cause. It’s not ignorance on everybody’s behalf who is arguing this, it is ignorance that crossfit changed the definition of a word to use as they please.

    • 1. You’ve extended the analogy I used past it’s intended use. The UFC comparison was aimed specifically at the CrossFit Games. Comparing UFC to CrossFit broadly is a mistake, as one is a company that defined and teaches a fitness methodology and the other runs events and sells apparel.

      2. You are right that CrossFit has defined fitness in a way that no one else has. We have made the definition measurable, and meaningful enough to make competing to see who is fittest a sport. Based on this definition, none of the other sports or sporting events you mentioned are intended to be tests of fitness, or would even serve as acceptable tests of fitness. You can call the sport of competitive fitness whatever you want. CrossFit certainly started it, but not all of it is CrossFit.

      • Nick

        You understand that powerlifting is a sport correct? Your understand that Olympic weightlifting is a sport correct? You understand that gymnastics is a sport? So how come they all also coincide with fitness yet they have their own names…their competitive sport names if you will. Your sport (and I will not call it crossfit) does not have this because fitness is not defined as a sport and never will be. Your company made 1 of 2 huge mistakes. 1.) crossfit should have been synonymous with the sport of the same name or 2) crossfit as a company should have named the sport. Now you guys are left floundering without a real name for the sport.

        You have made your point; crossfit is a company not a sport, however you have not and cannot say they are competing in “fitness”. First of all, it is too broad, secondly, there are levels of fitness not included in crossfit, and third…fitness is not a sport.

  35. Joshua Trahan

    I am alone in my backyard it is 5:00 am and I am trying to knock out a workout before my family wakes up. I am not Level 1 ceritifed and my backyard isn’t an affiliate. I look online at On Crossfit’s website there is a workout posted. I do the workout exactly as it is posted. Am I doing Crossfit or am I doing fitness?

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  37. Shane

    Russel, Maybe I get the “new” desire to make a distinction between CrossFit the company (Brand) and the workout that people do under their direction. But, don’t you think that maybe the confusion comes from any of the thousands of the “What is CrossFit” pages on affiliate’s Web sites, or even ironically on CrossFit’s own Web Site where CrossFit themselves states that “CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). CrossFit is also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together.”

    On the same page, they declare “Education is a big part of CrossFit. When you start, you are not expected to have the knowledge you need. CrossFit is an education about movement, fitness, nutrition and community. ”

    And even more “CrossFit is an evidence-based fitness program. Meaningful statements about safety, efficacy and efficiency — the three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program”

    “In implementation, CrossFit is, quite simply, the “sport of fitness.”

    I can continue to browse around the site and fine statements like “For the person who endeavors to take on CrossFit without the guidance of a certified CrossFit trainer, we recommend three distinct approaches, depending on your fitness experience and available facilities:”


    Is it really that hard to see that CrossFit the company has laid the groundwork for a decade as to what people are “doing” as they jump on this train? They’re doing “CrossFit” you state it yourself endlessly.

    If you really are trying to “rebrand” to protect the word, company, brand name CrossFit — you probably really ought to start with your own Web site. Making explicit distinctions to how doing CVFMHI the CrossFit way is successful. Right now, you’re basically telling the world that they should be doing “CrossFit” the “CrossFit” way.

    So, why would we call it anything different?

    • Shane,
      Sadly, what you are witnessing is our attempt to educate people on what should be obvious. None of the definitions of CrossFit you have mentioned are incorrect. The CrossFit methodology is as you have stated, and it is also the basis of our success. It is the lifebood of the community and what we educate trainers on every weekend around the world.

      What we are trying to communicate in this post is that CrossFit is also a business, and therefore a brand. Again, this seems obvious, but there are many who seem to resent or ignore the concept that we own the term CrossFit (which we created), and that this term can be extended or limited in its application by us. If you think that us pointing out that CrossFit is a brand is an attempt to “rebrand,” I’m going to count you among those people who are simply confused about how trademarks and intellectual property work.

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  40. You do realize the OC Throwdown is marketed as a CrossFit event, programmed by CrossFit coaches and hosted by a CrossFit, right? I could see the confusion, especially since the event is promoted through CrossFit channels…
    Just look at their website, I could see how the entire population would be confused.

    • It has not been marketed as a CrossFit even in recent years. All of your other points are correct I think. I don’t recall saying that this should be obvious to anyone who stumbles across their website. I am critical of investigative reporters who don’t ask simple questions about brand and company relationships before publishing critical articles.

      • Russ Greene

        And, Kevin Ogar told the author, Mark Fainaru-Wada, that the OCT was not a CrossFit event before he wrote the article. This is on video.

        Either Mark forgot this crucial point or willfully distorted it to keep Ogar tied to his piece.

        Now that we’ve alerted Mark and he’s failed to edit the piece, we can say for sure that he is knowingly spreading misinformation about CrossFit.

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