Have you ever witnessed a birth? That is what I think about as I watch the NPFL take shape.
There is some uneasiness, excitement, doubt, hope, uncertainty and fear surrounding the formation of this new professional league. Will it tank? Does it cater only to a niche market? Does it have the funding to really come out strong? Will it make a mockery of the functional fitness community and its athletes?
When I initially heard about the NPFL I had a bad taste in my mouth about it. I pictured American Gladiators or American Ninja Warriors. I pictured something seriously awesome being made into a joke of a sport. If you have ever participated in CrossFit, you know that the athletes are no joke. Yes we like to have fun and wear silly stuff but when it comes time to perform, it is not grins and giggles. We’re a competitive bunch by nature and the thought of someone toying with that makes me a little uneasy.
That being said, the caliber of athlete that has thus far been drawn into the league development is impressive. At least on the women’s side. Names like Annie Thorisdottir, Lindsey Valenzuela, Annie Sakamoto and Becky Conzelman and Elizabeth Akinwale have already signed to teams. That is a good start. Draws to the area combines show a good list of names with Kris Clever, Andrea Ager and Becca Voigt representing at LA.
Where are the big names on the men’s side? Laying low at the moment. With the vague response from Rich Froning regarding his upcoming retirement from the CrossFit Games individual competition, the door has been left open for his slide over to the NPFL. Maybe HQ is putting some kind of pressure/incentive on him and others, Jason Khalipa, to keep them quiet until the finale of Open season. It’s pure speculation on my part.
I really think the smart thing to do would be a symbiotic relationship as much as possible between CrossFit HQ and the NPFL. They have opposite seasons. The NPFL is a team competition whereas the CrossFit Open is dominated by the individual competition at least in the media coverage. Sounds like a potential yearlong domination by the functional fitness community to me. Interesting times my friends.
I wish the NPFL much luck and can’t wait to cheer those athletes on.