When the .1 is Worth 1,000,000

TomKat knows both the Open and how to cut a rug!

Next week, the world’s largest fitness competition commences. It’s Open season. I could provide you with a barrage of reasons why you should register, how it’s one of the most rewarding experiences for any CrossFitter. I could outline the benefit of friendly competition, or why, yes, even YOU, are good enough to participate – but, I shan’t. I do, contrastingly, hope to elicit an observable change in your approach. In years’ past, some of you have, undoubtedly, heard my haranguing centered on the Open and the importance of the ‘point 1’. 15.1, like 14.1, 13.1 or any previous year’s .1, is the most valuable workout you will perform during the 2015 open season. It probably won’t be the hardest, longest or shortest, heaviest, skill-rich or most entertaining, but its importance cannot be overestimated. Why? Because of attrition. Attrition, in definitive terms, is a gradual reduction in strength or effectiveness over time. And, for this article’s purposes, the strength and effectiveness of the CrossFit Open is exploited annually, vis a vis the occurrence and sequential forfeit of eligibility from injury, user error, travel, indifference and a host of other reasons.

For my uses, these reasons permit attrition to take root. How? It’s simple, every year, hoards of motivated people acting unitarily, as the strength and effectiveness for the Open, register. History has indeed, through successive years, revealed the pool of participants grows somewhat exponentially. For example’s sake, let’s say 1 million people register in 2015. Let us not reference, less we be indefinitely distracted, how much revenue is generated for HQ via team, judge, and athlete fees. Regardless, of that 1 million person ‘pie’, it’s fair to assume 95% of them will actually submit a to-be-validated score for 15.1. I assume this less-than-whole participation based on what I’ve seen first hand. Yes, it may be anecdotal, but I dare say the trend is universally prevailing. Therefore, we are left with 950 thousand scores and their appropriate points/rankings to be appointed – all before the initial week of the competition concludes.

This leads us directly into the second week. Again, to be fair, let’s assume the same percentage of participation occurs (remembering, of course, that 50 thousand people have already disqualified themselves following 15.1). Enter: week 2, 15.2; currently, we would be left a bolus of 900 thousand participants and subsequent points/rankings. Assuming this generous notion, a weekly participation rate of 95%, by the Open’s culmination, 15.5, a mere 770 thousand contributors remain – a reduction of almost 250 thousand participants. Ipso facto, the strength and effectiveness of the Open, 1 million spritely, optimistic folk, has fallen victim to a war of attrition (a theoretical war, of course). Ultimately, realizing a decline of (roughly) 25% participation and, more importantly for this article, the resulting erosion of previously legitimate scores. Sure. But, what does this really mean for 15.1? In the most simple terms, it means the points from 15.1 are weighted most heavily – by default, more than any weeks to follow. Furthermore, the preciousness of each point you are able to amass within the first workout cannot easily be described. I would even wager that one’s ranking, following the conclusion of week 1, can forecast one’s final placing, save a tens place or two. With a considerable amount of one-time contributors to the pie, the pie will be at its richest. And, inevitably, 180 thousand pieces of that pie will be sullied. Gone to waste. Points that could have served you, instead of Jane and John Doe. Sadly, the weekly wasting of points and rank, through this sort of attrition, continue upon their point-devaluing path throughout the entirety of the Open. It is after all, from those points that we are, by default, ranked. This ranking, as we know, eventually determines the best, but only of those still eligible. Ineligible scores, points, and athletes from previous weeks live to provide a perdition-like reminder of performances past, squandering points and gapping the week’s rank.

I posit it was CrossFit’s founder, Greg Gassman, that once said, “It is our observation that men will die for points…by keeping accurate scores and…defining the rules..we [are rewarded]…data [that] has important value well beyond motivation.” Such would arise a rare-but-worthy case deserving all the eggs and just one basket. Can it spell doom if our 15.1 performance is a flub? Maybe, but I’d reference Hate The Runs’ rise from the lackluster performance ashes of 14.1 to evince a regional berth – another anecdote. Perhaps, .1 can, by some manipulative prose, be as valuable as the 1 million. Perhaps, not. It is my optimistic hope that you are left with a two-fold lesson upon the completion of this petite read. One, whatever the hopper delivers on the eve of 2/26, you are physically and, more importantly, emotionally prepared to ‘die for points’ during your stab(s) at 15.1 – truly, in all the Open workouts. And, two, I implore that you not spoil any pieces of pie for those eyeing the entirety of 5 helpings – don’t be the statistic. Now, with all my love, go register and let us onward to the Open!