2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Personifies Continued Growth For Sport And Sponsor Jul 28th 2013, 04:54
Normally, if on a sunny summer Saturday I found myself lounging at the newly-coined StubHub! Center in Carson CA just 20 minutes south of downtown Los Angeles, I'd be attending a Los Angeles Galaxy soccer match…rooting for the likes of U.S. national stars like Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez.
But on this afternoon, the talk in the air isn't of corner kicks, through balls, nutmegs, or headers.
Instead, the talk is of Group Burpees, Naughty Nancies, Clean and Jerks, and Sprint Chippers.
Welcome to the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
Welcome to a sport that continues to grow worldwide.
Welcome to a sponsor that continues to see the fruits of this union.
Since the inaugural CrossFit Games held in Aromas CA in 2007, the games have grown in stature over time…eventually outgrowing "The Ranch" in Aromas and migrating south to Carson's multi-sport complex in 2010. But even at the StubHub! Center, expansion has continued. The 2013 event marks the first time in 4 years that the competitors are using the soccer stadium for individual and team events throughout The Games weekend.
The growth of 'the sport of fitness' has been nothing short of astounding. As my Forbes colleague David Tao recently wrote:
Today CrossFit boasts over 6,000 affiliated gyms worldwide, and its cultivation in regions like Europe, Asia, and the Middle East has helped established a truly global fitness brand.
During the spring of 2013, a total of 138,000 athletes from 118 countries took part in the The Open stage of qualifying…where open workouts were announced via live online broadcasts each week. A total of 779 men and 668 women qualified for individual competition at Regionals, as did 509 teams comprised of 3 men and 3 women each. From the Regionals, 47 individual men, 45 individual women, 43 teams, and 200 Masters athletes were awarded spots at the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games.
In 2007, the inaugural Games in Aromas had a mere 70 athletes.
So what sorts of things do you see at a CrossFit Games:
- I watched Team CrossFit Fort Vancouver win the Squat Burpee competition in 13 minutes 43 seconds. This event entailed 3 rounds of 30 squats with a huge worm shouldered by the team, followed by 30 burpees over the worm;
- I watched 22-year old Amanda Goodman win the women's individual clean and jerk with a winning lift of 235 pounds;
- I watched top male competitors Jason Khalipa and two-time defending champion Rich Froning attempt to chase down but ultimately fall shy of the leading 355-pound clean and jerk mark set by Aja Barto and Lucas Parker.
Apart from the growth in competitors, the attendee growth has expanded as well. The soccer stadium easily hosted 10,000 CrossFit enthusiasts during Saturday's morning session, while the intimate tennis setting was jam-packed for the afternoon sessions.
And there is no question that both sides continue to benefit from this partnership. Chris Froio, Vice President of Fitness and Training at Reebok, verified how fruitful the relationship with CrossFit has been for Reebok. "We've seen double-digit growth in footwear and apparel sales the last few years. Unquestionably, we can tie a significant portion of that growth to our partnership with CrossFit."
Mr. Froio further noted that one of the keys to maintaining brand integrity is to ensure a certain degree of market scarcity. "We simply want to make sure we avoid over-exposure and over-distribution. Keep demand exceeding supply."
In July 2010, well before Reebok or any other major sponsor entered the fray, one of my first posts with Forbes was entitled "The CrossFit Games: An Action Sports Investment Opportunity in the Making".
I'm not surprised by the immense success of this partnership, and only time will tell how long both CrossFit and Reebok can sustain the growth rates realized since the partnership commenced.
Patrick is an Economics Professor at the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University in St Louis, MO, and the Founder/Director of Sportsimpacts. Follow him on Twitter.
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