I tried to watch the NPGL match last night between the New York and Los Angeles teams. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t get interested.
I follow all of the teams on Twitter and a few of them on Facebook. I have watched videos of them marketing themselves by spontaneously breaking into a WOD in Central Park. I have really been curious how the athletes will continue to participate in the NPGL and CrossFit sanctioned activities or if soon one entity will ask that they strictly perform for that said entity. I see some of the athletes are particpating in large national competitions like the Granite Games – how does that interfere with their team practices or matches? What about that some of the athletes live hundreds or thousands of miles from where the team is located? Is that really being a professional? During football or baseball season the players don’t live somewhere other than where their team is located and they certainly don’t participate in other competitive football or baseball competitions or games outside of their league. Could you imagine players in the NFL playing Arena Football, too?
Just doesn’t feel like a pro league. But, hey, it is still only year one, right? This could all change in five or 10 years.
What I think needs to change:
- They need a main lineup that is used 95% of the time. All the rotating makes it seem so much less impressive. What makes the CrossFit Games so impressive is that the same guy that can clean 350# can also walk on his hands for 50 yards or meters at a time. In the NPGL “players” (aka exercisers) are rotating so often it just doesn’t seem as impressive.
- And to dovetail on #1 – what’s the point of a “starting lineup” when you rotate between people so often?
- If #1 is not on the table to change – how about limiting the number of substitutions per inning or round or whatever they are calling each five minute race. Using 10 people (that’s what it feels like) to complete a WOD that typically is completed by one CrossFit athlete takes away a lot of the challenge.
- If the scoreboard is going to show a team in blue and a team in red, don’t let the team represented on the scoreboard by the color blue wear red shirts. God damn that was confusing. For all the thought supposedly put into the fan experience that was a huge whiff.
- And, finally, the biggest thing they need to change is the Grid itself. It is such a limiting factor to what they can test. Rope climbs, handstand pushups, Olympic lifting, bar work, ring work….then what? Sure other sports have a defined playing field, but this isn’t really a sport yet, is it? It feels like that at some point this limited set of movements will be mastered and just cannot be performed faster/better. There has to be a ceiling of sorts, right? If they have 10 people per team they could have one person that can fly through HSPU, strict, deficit, free standing, whatever. In other sports you are directly competing with someone else and they can PREVENT you from doing whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Maybe in the NPGL needs some sort of defensive option? Maybe the other team can shoot their opponents with water guns to make them slip off of bars or loose their balance/concentration with other work? I guess this is why they moved from the Pro Fitness League as it really isn’t testing fitness in any way. It’s which team can perfect the movements limited to the GRID.
Number five is the main reason why I don’t think this is going to catch on, in my opinion. Then again, I don’t like soccer and that is doing pretty well, ain’t it? Maybe this does take off. Maybe this is just the first year and there will be some serious changes and it will get better. I love watching CrossFit competition – local or national. I love watching team competitions more than individual, but I just can’t get into the NPGL. Again, I think the size of the team and the frequent substitutions makes it so much less impressive. Cut the roster to five or six and now maybe we have something I will watch.