Is CrossFit Games coverage sexist?

In short: relatively not.

In longer form, let’s examine some facts in more detail. I hadn’t thought of the coverage as sexist AT ALL (in fact, I was touting its inclusiveness) but others have voiced some issues. Let’s think up some pros and cons. 

1. CrossFit Games gives equal coverage to men and women

Throughout Regionals and the Games, the CrossFit Games website live-streamed and archived equal numbers of events for men and women. The ESPN coverage was also approximately equal. This is unprecedented! For most sports, the only time you can even see female athletes compete at all is during the Olympics. But watch any Update Show, browse any gallery, watch any archived live event, and you’ll see women getting equal screen time and fanfare. Great!

Half marathon row event at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

2. The fittest man and the fittest woman at the CrossFit Games get equal prize money

Rich Froning and Sam Briggs both took home novelty cheques for $275,000. Same with the athletes who placed 2nd through 10th overall, and every athlete who placed top 3 in any event. (Source) Professional athletes getting paid equally? Unique to CrossFit!

3. CrossFit promotes its male and female athletes equally

Leading up to the Games, CrossFit posted interviews (sometimes videos, sometimes articles) on every individual athlete that qualified. It made it easy to familiarize myself with each athlete and cheer all all the harder for them at the Games. Men and women’s videos and articles were of equal quality, so far as I judged. 

More exciting is that the leaderboard on the Games website usually defaults to show women! I posted about it on Facebook and it doesn’t seem that many people share my enthusiasm over this one, but I’ve grown so accustomed to men being the default, not just on sports websites, not just on all websites, but kind of systemically? I mean, even when you fill out any form online and have to choose Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss/Dr, etc., Mr is often selected as the default or at least the top option in the drop down menu. That the leaderboard defaults to women’s standings is, to me, a strong message that women are important in CrossFit and completely belong to the CrossFit community. 

GHD sit-ups at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

 

4. About 50% of the media team are women

The Update Show desk, the interviewers, the commentators… all about 50% women. How often do you see sports media teams be 100% male? Often!

5. Men’s events were the headliner every night

I was a bit disappointed that every night, the final event for the day was the men’s final heat. Clearly the prime headlining hot spot, I would have liked to close with the women one night. Honestly, not a big deal, and on Saturday and Sunday they did men’s heats 1, 2, and 3, then all the women’s heats including the final heat, and then the men’s final heat. I think they were TRYING to balance it, or something. It seemed to be on their minds, at the very least. But still, I guess it wasn’t fully, fully equal. 

Women lining up for the Legless at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

Women lining up for the Legless at the 2013 Games (from games.crossfit.com)

6. Official apparel was slightly disappointing

The Reebok tent sold the official t-shirts for the Games, including the ones with competitors’ names. For the most part they sold women’s names on women’s shirts and men’s names on men’s shirts, but they also sold Froning, Khalipa, and Bridges (all male athletes) names on women’s shirts. I didn’t find any women’s names on men’s shirts and when I asked an employee if there were any, he was like, “No! But you’re not the first person to ask!”

I don’t know, I saw  more than one man sporting garments with Annie Thorisdottir’s signature. I saw a sold out stadium get on their feet to watch entire women’s heats. I bet there were plenty of men who would have bought a jersey with a female athletes name! Or if not plenty, maybe a few? Maybe I’m only disappointed by this because I entered the Reebok tent so hopeful to find a woman’s name on a men’s shirt (I already had this post brewing in my mind). Oh, well. 

7. Teams are coed

In their mid-Update Show ads, CrossFit has been showing one that interviews a few people talking about how great CrossFit is for the ladies. One guy brings up the fact that athletes compete on coed teams. I guess it’s unique, but I don’t really see it has anything distinctly anti-sexist or pro-women. Just kind of cool. But I thought I’d mention it in case others agree that it should count as a pro.

So, in summary, the way the CrossFit Games has treated women is as good as it gets for female athletes. Or really, better than it has ever been. It’s a young sport with a clean slate and I think it has been doing a fantastic, though not flawless, job promoting women in sports. 

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One thought on “Is CrossFit Games coverage sexist?

  1. good post! I agree, crossfit is probably the least sexist sport there is!

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