On May 19th, CrossFit North Pasadena will play host to the Battle of the Roses competition for kids and teens ages 10-17. It's quickly becoming my favorite event of the year. I'm constantly blown away by these young athletes, and not just by their athletic performance, but by their spirit and sportsmanship as well.
Competition has developed a negative connotation for some parents. While some kids thrive on competing, others might get discouraged if they don’t win and want to quit. However, this is something that just isn't seen in CrossFit and I’ll tell you why:
The most effective athletes are those that don't focus on being the best, but rather their best. In the words of famed board game designer Reiner Knizia: “The goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning.” At the first Battle for the Roses competition, I watched one girl attempt a handstand push up over and over again. She kept getting close, but just couldn't finish it out. However, she never let this get her down. She was frustrated for sure, but she never quit. She tried attempt after attempt all the way to buzzer. She may have dropped in the standings after that event, but it was still the most inspiring thing I saw that day. Plus, she carried that determination on to the next event and crushed it. Nobody made fun of that athlete. Nobody taunted her or threw it in her face. In fact, the other athletes were cheering hard for her. They wanted it as much as she did.
The most important rule of Ultimate Frisbee is The Spirit of the Game. It asks players to play with integrity and fairness. It encourages "highly competitive play … but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors ... or the basic joy of play." It's a remarkable concept, in part because it should be a part of every sport, but I have only seen it in two others: CrossFit and Curling. (Did you know all rules disputes are settled between the players, even at the Olympics? Involving the referee for anything other than a measurement is extremely rare and frowned upon.) Watch the CrossFit games: the crowd cheers for effort over all else. The athlete who has to use every ounce of their will to get a 200 pound snatch will garner louder applause than the champion who snatched 350 with ease.
No matter how we finish, we all congratulate each other. When 2017 CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she shook hands with all of the other competitors in her group when it was over. She was the only athlete in any weight division, male or female, I saw do that. When CFNP's own teen athlete Ellie competed in the weightlifting nationals in Atlanta, she congratulated a fellow athlete afterwards. The other athlete looked bewildered--that level of sportsmanship was something she never experienced before!
A lot of parents sign their kids up for CrossFit because they hope the improved athletic performance will boost their child’s confidence, but there’s another hidden benefit most don’t consider: character. The amount of respect and spirit these kids develop for each other across age, gender, and ability lines fills me with so much pride for the next generation.
The Battle for the Roses competition will be held on May 19th, 2018 at CrossFit North Pasadena. For more information, workout descriptions, and to register, go to battlefortheroses.wodifyarena.com. Registration closes April 29th.