Earlier this week, The Rx Review posted an article by Dave Chung on Andrea Ager and the recent “judging mishap” at the 2013 Southern California Regional.
While Chung has written many in-depth and informative articles for a number of websites and magazines, this particular piece contained a number of factual errors and misleading premises, and should not have been published on The Rx Review.
First, let’s get the basics sorted out.
In case you missed the news, Southern California competitor Andrea Ager failed to meet the minimum work requirement on Event 2, the Overhead Squat Complex. She chose to open with the heaviest barbell, loaded to 175 lbs., but couldn’t complete three overhead squats at that weight within the 7-minute time cap.
According to the rules, any competitor who fails to meet the minimum work requirement in an Event will be cut from the competition.
However, later that day, fans saw Ager’s name appear on the Southern California Leaderboard with the score 17.52.
What happened exactly?
CrossFit’s head judge, Adrian Bozman, acknowledged that he had made a verbal mistake at the mandatory athlete briefing at the SoCal Regional earlier that day.
“This was a mistake on my behalf,” Head Judge Adrian Bozman said.
“During the mandatory morning athlete briefing, I incorrectly answered a question by saying that there was no minimum work requirement for Individual Event 2. I made a mistake, clear and simple.”
To rectify the misstatement, CrossFit decided to hold all Southern California individual athletes to rules as outlined by Bozman. Like Bozman said, there would be no minimum work requirement on Event 2 for Southern California athletes.
Those athletes who failed to complete three reps at their chosen opening weight would remain in the competition, and their score would rank below those athletes who got three reps at any weight.
With a score of 17.52, Ager took 31st on Event 2. She and five other Southern California competitors remained in the competition.
The next morning, Ager withdrew from the Regional.
Now that we have the basics sorted, let’s get into Chung’s article.
Chung states that Ager’s decision to withdraw from the SoCal Regional was the “right” one, and that had she have ended up qualifying for the CrossFit Games after the “mishap,” it could have led to some “embarrassment and controversy” for the sport of CrossFit.
Let’s have a look at these claims a bit closer.
First, unless the events would have played out very differently with Ager present, we can conclude that she would not have reached the CrossFit Games. Had Ager decided to remain in the competition, and went on to win the remaining four events, she would have finished in 5th place overall with 43 points — 20 points outside of the top three.
Second, it’s not a mishap, but a misstatement, and one that was rectified by the later ruling. No competitor within the Region was adversely affected by Bozman’s misstatement or the later correction. No competitor who risked a heavy weight and failed would be cut from the competition, and also no competitor who scrupulously followed the rules would be punished by having an athlete who failed to complete the three reps at the opening weight rank ahead of them. With the ruling, CrossFit contained the problem.
Throughout the article, Chung also states that CrossFit handed Ager a “public pass” and gave her a “second life” by making the rule adjustment. The truth is, the rules were slightly adjusted to accommodate for a miscommunication between all athletes, not just one. As the rules were the same for all competitors in the SoCal Region during Event 2, there was no unfair advantage given to any athlete, including Ager.
While it was statistically impossible in the end, had Ager actually qualified for the Games, she would have deserved her spot, as she was competing on a level playing field with every other individual female athlete over the weekend.
At the 2013 SoCal Regional, CrossFit was presented with a situation where it could have stuck to the Rule Book and marked the six athletes with a DNF for Event 2, or remedy the situation and allow an exception for those who were unfortunately misinformed.
I think the majority of athletes and fans at the 2013 SoCal Regional would agree that CrossFit came up with the fairest possible outcome.
Rather than ignoring the error, or punishing the athletes for the mistake, Bozman, along with fellow CrossFit officials, acted swiftly to ensure the best result was achieved for the sport, and its fans and athletes.
CrossFitters around the world will always have differing opinions on the incident, but to say, like Chung did, that it had the potential to cause the sport embarrassment and controversy is far fetched.