On Tuesday, CrossFit officially announced the Games invitation they extended to Hunter McIntyre, a professional obstacle course racer. Many CrossFit Games competitors and some people covering the sport from the media side of things really hate the wild card invite. Their biggest argument seems to be that athletes should “earn” their spot through the other qualification methods, which, by the way, have all changed a lot for this season.
First off, what is this wild card invite? For years, the CrossFit Games Rulebook has had a section allowing the company (CrossFit) to invite people of their choosing to compete at the Games without going through the other qualification methods. Here’s the part from the rulebook for the current season (link to PDF).
4.06 – THE GAMES – INVITATION PROCESS FROM AN AT-LARGE BID
CrossFit Inc. reserves the right to invite four individual athletes to compete at the Games. The means by which an athlete can earn one of the
four at-large bids is solely up to CrossFit Inc.’s discretion.
Personally I love the invite. Before I get into why and a key point of the whole thing, let me just point out a few things about Hunter. He’s a great athlete and very fit. Check out this comparison of his 2018 and 2019 Open workouts compared to Brent Fikowski, who has been top four at the Games for the last three years..
Hunter beat Brent in 4/11 scored events over the last two Opens, which is pretty damn good. Overall Hunter placed much higher than a lot of the national championships from the 2019 Open. Some of those national champions have no business stepping up to complete alongside the best of the best. Hunter will actually be competitive in some of the endurance type events, with the potential to grab some wins.
Now on to the real meat of this thing. Games athletes and some media people seem to be missing the whole point of the wild card invite! The invite is for the athlete NOT to earn it through normal qualification methods. I remember an old CrossFit video of Greg Glassman talking about these invites, which I couldn’t find. They were basically created as a way to invite athletes from other sports to compete at the Games and see how they compare to CrossFitters. The idea is to answer the question, “Can an athlete built by another fitness program or sport compete and win the CrossFit Games?” If we forced Hunter McIntyre to earn his invite like the rest of the Games competitors, it doesn’t tell us anything new because at that point we’d consider him a CrossFit Games athlete, when at this point he’s still an obstacle course racer.
I think it’s pretty simple to understand and it’ll create some excitement at the Games. I hope he destroys the field in some of the early workouts. Here are some videos with Hunter if you’d like to learn more.