Let me start this post by saying that I have never met AJ Moore, but from what little I know about him, he is an INCREDIBLE athlete (and a really cool person).
This past weekend, he became an even bigger “CrossFit Celebrity” when his was no-repped on an incredible 60 or so reps of the “100′s” workout at his CrossFit Games Regional competition. SIXTY Reps were not counted. Many in the CrossFit community are outraged, and there have been several blog posts written about judging at the Regional competitions around the world. There’s this one, specifically about AJ, from the crew at Beyond the Whiteboard, and then there’s this article on judging and the “Sport of CrossFit” in general that I read from the SICFIT Crew.
My own personal take on the whole scenario is this:
There will always, and I emphasize ALWAYS, be situations where people get places they shouldn’t in sports due to blatant cheating or bad officiating. That’s a risk we take when we have the potential for “Human Error” in any task (gladly, if you ask me). Humans, as much as we would like to think, are not perfect.
(For example, some people probably made it to Regionals who shouldn’t have because of this potential pattern, but it happens. I finished in 79th place out of over 1,000 in the Region and only 60 places made it. I could be “bitter”, but instead of making excuses I am just training harder for next year! CrossFit Lisbeth wrote this quick and dirty post the other day, and I agree with her 100000%.)
That being said, I need all of you who care about this topic to CLEARLY READ the standards that were explicitly printed a few weeks ago from CrossFit HQ on the CrossFit Games Website.
At the top of the swing, the kettlebell must be fully inverted (bell over the handle), centered over the feet with the hips and knees fully extended and the arms straight. At the bottom, the wrists must touch the thighs and the bell must pass behind the heels. There is no requirement for flexing the knees.
Those details are VERY specific, and at least in my history of competing in CrossFit events, more detailed than any I have ever heard. (Usually, I’ve heard hips fully extended and ears visible in front of the arms at the top, or something like that.) But you know what? They posted that info online, weeks ago, for the WORLD to see. There were no surprises on game day.
Now I must warn you, the video below (which I copied from the comments sections of the beyondthewhiteboard post) was PAINFUL for me to watch… PAINFUL. At that level of competition, I can only imagine the amount of frustration AJ must have felt when rep after rep was called back. When I read and reread the standards, though…. I have to agree with his JUDGE on this one (maybe aside from a rep or two). The crowd, and others witnessing this were furious, though, and I’ll tell you why I think that was the case. If I was cheering on my friend who had all of these no-reps called, but then I looked over at another competitor who wasn’t being held to the same exact standards, I would be furious, too. For me, that’s where the role of Head Judges and Event Coordinators comes in. Manage the floor as actively as you can, or appoint someone who can, to ensure that those standards are being upheld consistently.
Regardless, some inconsistencies will always exist, and as athletes and fans, we just need to accept that. The year they introduce robotic judging and infrared cameras to ensure standards, there will be outrage in the community because we’re taking the “human touch” out of our sport. Trust me.
I’ll end this post by saying this:
AJ Moore – You had one of the classiest performances I’ve ever seen in CrossFit. When I found myself yelling at the screen watching this video, I realized how emotionally charged we get as athletes cheering for a peer of ours. The sense of family and Community we have in CrossFit is incredible, and as an athlete you’ve got yet another new fan through all of this. Me.
Judges – All I can ask is that Competition Coordinators do their best to properly train judges, and then walk around during the event to ensure consistency across the floor (and I think that many or most CrossFit events do this well). If the judge is truly trying their best to uphold standards based on their understanding of the rules and standards, that is all we can ask for in sport. If a judge needs to be replaced, do it. It’s as simple as that.
Fans – Arguing with or mistreating judges is a complete waste of time. All the time. It only offends and insults, it poisons the sport and accomplishes nothing. If there truly is unfair judging taking place, there are productive means to try and remedy these injustices. Event coordinators are probably a good place to start, and having video evidence of what you think is wrong will surely help so it’s not a he-said she-said scenario. When possible, handle it as diplomatically and respectfully as possible, because when we CrossFitters get emotional and upset, there’s little that can calm us down!
At the end of the day, like the Chyna Cho and Michelle Benedict situations that have also gained popularity throughout CrossFit over the last few weeks, I’m sure that all athletes at that level of competition will step up their game, maintain their class and work even harder so that next year, when Regionals rolls around… It won’t matter what happens with judges. They’ll crush it, and crush it harder than ever.
CrossFit. I love you.