Sponsorship Not Endorsement

By Greg Glassman

In CrossFit Games, Videos

January 19, 2010

Video Article

“We took $150,000 from a supplement company. Is that a bad thing?” CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman asks.

Supplements fall outside the CrossFit program, but Glassman doesn’t believe that a supplement company can’t advertise at the CrossFit Games. Allowing someone to put up some signs and feature products in the vendor tents certainly doesn’t mean CrossFit endorses those products. Coors Lite is the official beer sponsor of the Super Bowl—but does every player and executive in the NFL drink it?

“It’s like advertising,” Glassman says of Games sponsorship. “They gave me money and I put their banner up. You tell me if it’s good or not. I’m not going to be endorsing Mercedes-Benz or Rolex or Progenex, but I’ll take sponsorship from all of them.”

The CrossFit Games are a monumental undertaking, and funding them is a huge challenge. Instead of passing the costs along to the spectators and athletes, CrossFit HQ has chosen to let sponsors advertise, which will help keep admission and registration costs down, stream the Games live on the Internet for free, and give $25,000 cash to the winners.

Companies who support the Games are also free to make their cases to the CrossFit community about the efficacy and validity of their products and services. CrossFitters, after all, are encouraged to determine what produces the best performances.

“We’ve got nothing to fear, and there’s no ego any of this—but I’m going to get my Games funded,” Glassman asserts.

Video by CrossFit Films by Jordan Gravatt.

5min 41sec

Additional reading: Let the 2009 CrossFit Games Begin by Mike Warkentin, published July 4, 2007.

Free Download


49 Comments on “Sponsorship Not Endorsement”


wrote …

The question I have is, does taking the money from a supplement company in any way preclude other supplement companies from sponsoring at the event. Coors Light is the official beer of the NFL. Implicitly and/or explicitly, the NFL is endorsing Coors Light by allowing it, and not Bud or Miller, to associate its name with the NFL.

As long as any and all companies are free to "sponsor" this event, then yes, it does not seem quite like an endorsement. Still though, CF needs to be smart and make sure that they approve of the companies that are sponsoring them. Because regardless of whether coach comes out and says "CF endorses this company and their products," the act of having them at the games is going to put it out there in a prominent location in the community and people will draw logical conclusions.


wrote …

which company did they accept money from?


wrote …

"and people will draw logical conclusions."

Please explain because I don't see how that's a logical conclusion except for someone who lacks the ability to think logically for themselves. Seeing a progenex banner at the games, to me, has never implied that Coach Glassman thinks Progenex will improve my fitness. The only people with objections, ironically enough, are under the impression that "others" will get the wrong idea. Where are these others? Who themselves has been deceived by this sponsorship?


replied to comment from Joe Mercurio

Joe, you have asked a great question and I'll second it. "The only people with objections, ironically enough, are under the impression that 'others' will get the wrong idea. Where are these others?"


wrote …

Hi Andy,

The line means CrossFit doesn't focus on supplementation as a key part of its program. For example, supplementation is not covered in the nutrition lecture at a Level 1 Cert, and the nutrition part of World Class Fitness in 100 Words doesn't include advice on supplements.

CrossFitters are generally encouraged to fuel their bodies in the way that best promotes health and performance, and if supplements work for you in a measurable, observable and repeatable manner, it may well be in your best interest to use them. Much research into the efficacy of supplements is inconclusive at present, and much testimony is anecdotal.

To quote Coach from the video: "You tell me if it's good or not."

Hope that answers your question.

CrossFit Journal


wrote …

Interesting. I took note that last year Panda Express sponsored the Games, but I did not think of that as an endorsement by CrossFit. But with the supplement industry being so closely linked to the fitness industry, the fact that Progenex is a sponsor of the CrossFit Games does garner more attention. The advertising worked on me - I checked out the Progenex site to see what they offered. Pretty smart move by Progenex to attach its (relatively unknown) name to the fastest growing fitness "craze".

And as far as supplements (and for that matter, mall chinese food), nothing is evil in itself. Everything in moderation :)


wrote …

I think maybe one way to look at this is not as sponsorship or endorsement but rather as advertising.

Crossfit has chosen to allow advertising in order to create a revenue stream to offset the cost of putting on the games, which I'm sure are not cheap to do and I can't think of anywhere else that hosts an event of this size that does not allow advertising of some sort in order to pull in revenue to support the cost of the event.

I went to the games last year as a spectator and since then I can't say I ran out and started devouring orange chicken from Panda Express because somehow I thought that was what Crossfit was telling me to do.


wrote …

Does anyone else have an issue with the fact that if and when like Glassman said the winner of the Crossfit games walks away with 250,000$ that we are going to start having career crossfitters and similarly only crossfit athletes as a profession ? Seems to go against the morals of the whole regimen, arent't you supposed to do the games to prove how fit you are ? As apposed to doing it to get paid. Seems like a load of crap me to me. Stick with the 5000$ they got to cover expenses. I'm sure someone is going to answer back "even though they did it for money the games is supposed to prove the fittest men and women on earth which is still would" just think about that response if that's yours.


wrote …

Keep admission costs down? Really? I understand supply and demand, but charging more to watch a CrossFit Qualifier than people are charged for an NFL football game seems a little unreasonable to me. At least let the individual regional decide how much, or IF they want to charge for admission. If they need the money to help out with the event, or to control the number of folks attending, thats a regional level problem.


replied to comment from Dennis Andrews

So, it sounds like you want us to have a problem with giving a bigger prize, just because it's... a bigger prize. I don't get it. So what if they're competing to get paid? People can compete for a lot of reasons, but it doesn't tend to change the order of the finishers. Please explain why you're so sure a large cash prize and proving who's fittest are mutually exclusive.

Also, it is clearly NOT logical that a banner at the games equals endorsement. But, cognitive laziness is more the rule than the exception.


wrote …

I understand and agree with Coach Glassman's appropriation of funding for the games, but I was curious if some of the product sponsors at the games had quality products that he would endorse? Coach Glassman and Crossfit HQ have made themselves icons to the crossfit community with their training methodology and everyone is using what they are endorsing, the CrossFit training method. As Coach Glassman blindly accepts money from sponsors for funding, I would hate to see community members blindly buying products just because it is associated with CrossFit. If Coach doesn't endorse any of the products and solely is looking for money then OK, thats fine but if he does believe in some of the products I think an effort should be made to distinguish these companies in order to guide community members towards high quality products.

Also, I e-mailed crossfit HQ a while back about this but never heard back, I still think that CrossFit HQ should charge 1$ for games viewing and donate all proceeds toward Operation Phoenix.


wrote …

I think this is a great distinction to make. And from now on if anyone does take the wrong idea from these advertisements, they can be referred to this video. When I saw Panda Express last year I certainly didn't think Crossfit was endorsing them. What I DID think was that Panda Express definitely does not know the audience here very well. What a great increase in revenue, Crossfitters picking up some Panda on the occasional cheat day.

In response to Dennis,
There is nothing more moral about doing the games to prove how fit you are vs. to earn a large cash prize. People all have their own motivations. Actions are the only thing that can be judged on a basis of moral or not. Thoughts and motivations are outside the realm of moral judgment. Some people seem to think that doing something for money is inherently worse than for any other motivation. I would refer these people to this essay demonstrating that money is a symbol of productive achievement and a noble pursuit. http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=1826.


replied to comment from Christopher tucker

You ask a good question. Clearly, there are products that are informally endorsed to varying degrees... The Zone being one of them. Add to that Dynamax and the C2 rower. Heck, just read "The Garage Gym", CFJ 2002, and you've got an enormous list of "recommended" suppliers. In the end, it really boils down to not being thought of as recommending Company X because said company donated 150k to the Games. But Coach is running a bit of a gamble here. I'd say his reasoning is sound: advertisement is not endorsement. But, based on the level of critical thinking we see in some of these discussions around here, I'm not certain a large percentage of the community would see it that way.


wrote …

Bring on the money!

more money=better athletes=pro/olympic athletes

Next time someone tries to claim the crossfit games do not prove the fittest on the planet we can refer them here. Within a few years there will be a tangible incentive for people who get paid to be fit to compete at the games. I'll put my money on Mikko and Tommy and Khalipa anyday.

Chad McKay


wrote …

Joe, I would refer you to look into the Enron scandal and the Ponzi scheme Bernie Madoff ran if you think any pursuit of money is noble and productive. And I dont think it would be unreasonable to apply morality to motivations seeing that they influence your actions.


Aaron Shaffer wrote …

"Supplements fall outside the CrossFit program". Thank you for stating this.

This video is very appropriate. Excellent, clear clarification.


wrote …

I'm with Ashley here... the admission price for the qualifiers is just ridiculous. Especially when you consider HQ brings in $150, 000 per weekend from Level 1 certifications alone.
If they're trying to minimize costs it isn't showing that's for sure.


Jesse Gray wrote …

Real quick Crossfitters, do you know how advertising works? Crossfit does not pick the sponsors, the sponsors pick Crossfit. It's not like coach Glassman picks out companies he likes, calls them up and asks for money. Crossfit is not endorsing Progenex, Progenex is endorsing Crossfit. The company likes Crossfit so much, it put up $150,000 to be associated with them. Now, I will grant you that my knowledge of the ad business is based primarily on the first 3 seasons of Mad Men but there seems to be a pretty clear trend that the advertisers pick the programming and not the other way around. I also understand that because Progenex is a supplement company and therefore, could be viewed as a special case but, there are lots of Crossfit related performance products that advertise in the games and are clearly not endorsed by CFHQ. Does HQ recommend that we run in Vibram 5 finger shoes and only use Gym Boss brand interval timers? Of course not, they are just companies that have a financial interest in showing their products off to Crossfitters, it is up to us whether or not we choose to use them. In fact, there is only one piece of equipment that I have ever heard of HQ giving any kind of specific endorsement to and that is the Concept 2 rower, a product they loved far before they ever got a dime from them.


replied to comment from Dennis Andrews


(This is probably a little bit outside the scope of the thread for those interested more in the topic of sponsorship v. endorsement)

You're absolutely right. I misspoke. Pursuit of money is not a precise enough word and can be broadly interpreted to apply to means of acquiring money that are certainly less than honest. It is noble to make or earn money by productive effort. To pursue money by graft, fraud, or open theft are morally wrong as in the cases of Enron and Bernie Madoff that you mentioned.

As far as motivation as a topic for ethical investigation. I guess I should not be so hasty. Ethics as a branch of philosophy is a means of determining moral action. If there is an "immoral" motivation antecedent to an immoral action, I think you would be justified in calling the motivation immoral. But if a person holds the same motivation but does not follow through with the act or even acts in an opposite or moral fashion, the declaration of the motivation being immoral loses substantial meaning.

At any rate, in this case the action itself of competing in the Crossfit games is, I think, moral, or at worst neutral. So any motivations antecedent to competing in the games would be at worst neutral too.


wrote …


I'm from an ad agency background.

It's a bit of both. Obviously, a Zimmer frame manufacturer won't want to advertise in The Simpsons because their target audience wouldn't be represented efficiently among the viewers. The first approach is normally made by an advertiser to a media owner (and Crossfit Games is a medium for these purposes)

But...a media company or owner has the right not to accept an advertiser & this happens occasionally. The most regular occurence would be if say one brand in a category sponsors or has a heavy presence in a show, they may ask for or pay a premium for no competitors to be able to advertise within the same show (or other medium). SO if COke sponsor Idol, Idol won't take money from Pepsi.

there may also be examples where a media owner for other reasons (normally ethics or for the sake of the integrity of their medium) chooses not to allow an advertiser or a type of advertiser to buy space in their show. One of the radio stations here banned 'erectile disfunction' advertising because too many of their listeners complained. Or...an animal lovers magazine may not allow a fur coat company or a cosmetics company that tests their products on advertising to buy space etc etc

The ultimate point here is that the Glassmans or Crossfit inc owns the Crossfit Games and they have the right to pick and choose who they allow or don't allow to advertise/sponsor the Games or...a WOD or the website.

The torture test for Coach with his theory is this....if McDonalds or Coca Cola or Mars or a Globo Gym or Les Mills etc ask to sponsor the Games in two years time, what does he do then?

Given the strong stance that Crossfit takes on certain subjects, to accept the money from these arguments who are counter our philosophy would be a form of hypocrisy.

And then if (as I hope) the answer comes back from Coach that this would never happen then the relevant question becomes ...how much do we have to agree or disagree with a sponsor to allow them to give us their money.

any thoughts from HQ?


Adam Kruppa wrote …

Is HQ willing to accept to competing companies to 'sponsor'?

If in the future, some other companies jump in on advertising at the games would HQ have both Barry Sears' Zone banner next to Weight Watchers?

I don't know why, but what if NorCal strength and Conditioning wanted to have a banner at the games..will they all get the same opportunity?

Sounds like fluff.


Hmm... Considering you have actual experience in advertising compared to me watching mad men episodes in my adult footed pajamas I'm inclined to think you know more than me on the subject (actually, you comment proved that). I will say though that last year Panda Express sponsored the games. I don't see how that is terribly different than McDonald's sponsoring the games. If McDonald's wanted to promote a "healthy" menu of some kind perhaps they would want to be sponsors and I think they would probably succeed in that effort.
At this point they also have competing businesses as sponsors; Rogue Fitness, Garage Gym and Bigger Stronger Faster are all competing online equipment retailers. I wonder how this will turn out? Perhaps right now they're just not getting enough money to make exclusive product deals.
If you have any more insight into this topic I would love to hear it.



wrote …

"Dude, is that an Oakley watch you've got on?"
"It is, man. Pretty sharp huh?"

"We're just getting ready to head out to San Jose airport on Southwest . . . we've got a little 'ding' thing happening" *DING*

Is the above 'endorsement', or merely 'sponsorship'? ;)

Seriously though, whether CrossFit actually endorses a brand or simply puts its banner up, the end result is that the company makes more money and builds more influence. If that company does something generally destructive (like selling junk food), CrossFit is not exactly making the world a better place by helping them advertise.

It would be good to see CrossFit further raise awareness of its willingness to accept sponsorship money so there is an oversupply of companies keen to advertise. Hopefully that way, CrossFit can be selective about which companies profit from its own success, so the wider effect is a positive, constructive one. This seems much more in line with what CrossFit is all about.


wrote …

I find this video extremely interesting because I started a thread in the forums on this very subject. (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=53873&highlight=progenex) I was told it was crazy to even ask the question -- yet Coach felt the need to address the issue.

Let me be clear: Coach doesn't need to defend taking advertising AT ALL. I also have no axe to grind with Progenex (or Panda Express or Skins or Rogue or any other sponsor).

However, a few points made in this video don't add up.

1) Sponsorship is not endorsement.

Of course it isn't. But it IS an implicit statement that the two companies -- the sponsor and the sponsored -- have similar interests, and find nothing objectionable about being in each other's company. Remember, this is a relationship of choice. As they become associated with one another, they become associates of one another.

I have mentioned my experience of advertising from a journalist's perspective. Nick, above, mentioned his experience working in advertising. We attest that, whether it be real or imagined, there IS a relationship established between the two companies, and that realtionship is PART of what is being bought/sold through the advertising or sponsorship.

Coach says he wouldn't turn down advertising from Skoal tobacco. I'd be shocked were he to do that. Anyone would be absolutely right to find the pairing of an organization promoting elite fitness with an organization promoting a proven major cause of serious illness and death to be an ill-advised move.

Perhaps Purina Puppy Chow would like to sponsor the Games, but that, too, would be a poor choice. Firstly, Coach has written that commercial pet foods are unnatural and inappropriate food sources for animals... But seriously, dog food is not really the kind of image that inspires people to think of "The fittest man and woman on Earth," is it? Or Depends adult diapers. Or any number of other products or services you can imagine.

The advertising you accept is DEFINITELY about the image you wish to project of YOURSELF, just as the platforms that advertisers choose for promoting their products or services is about the image they wish to project for THEMSELVES. There's no point arguing this point.

...Maybe it's totally cool for CrossFit to make supplement companies a part of its image. (Feeling the need to defend this decision tells me that doing so doesn't sit entirely well, at least with part of the community, but no matter.) But to pretend that sponsorship and advertising DO NOT alter CrossFit's image is just silly.

2) The Games need to be funded by advertising and sponsorships; the Games are of extreme importance, therefore, it doesn't matter who pays for the advertising and sponsorships.

I've already made my point that advertising and sponsorship do reflect on the company receiving the money, so I won't repeat that. I'll just say that the second half of the above statement doesn't fly.

The first part is a legitimate business concern -- you have a business activity that creates an expense, and you'd like to cover that expense with revenue. Totally fair. I don't for a minute dispute the legitimacy of accepting advertisement and sponsorship, per se.

However, I would ask: Why are there no advertisements on the mainpage? Or on CrossFit t-shirts? Why is it only the Games that require funding?

More directly: If you believe that advertising and sponsorship have nothing to do with endorsement, and do not in any way distill the brand, then why not use every platform possible to raise revenue from advertisers and sponsors? Considering the reach of the mainpage alone, it would seem possible TODAY to raise the kinds of funds you say you want to award to the winners of the Games.

Whenever someone says they don't like this WOD or that article or whatever, someone says, "Hey, you're getting this for FREE!" or, "Hey, you're getting this for only 25 bucks a year!" and adding, "There's no advertising paying for this stuff!"

And they're right. It's amazing what CrossFit has been able to accomplish while giving things away. But if promoting the fitness revolution requires more funding, why NOT accept advertising on the mainsite, and in the Journal, and on t-shirts and such?


replied to comment from Jesse Gray

Have to agree that having McDonalds as a sponsor isn't really hypocritical. If they want to pay money to try to reach out to the CF audience, that's their call.

IMO, if HQ attempted to vet out the sponsors based on how "positive" or "destructive" they are, HQ would essentially be endorsing specific companies. In that scenario, you really would be able to go to the games, look around, and say, "huh, HQ thinks all these companies are good for the world." I think HQ realizes that's a very dangerous place to be.


replied to comment from Sam Ser

Just posted, but Sam's comment is too big not to respond.

You make a compelling argument and bring up some good points. But, one reason I don't think we'll see advertising on the main page and in CFJ is that Coach, and HQ in general, see these forums as part of a legitimate scientific endeavor. This is particularly true of CFJ. They may believe that advertising in these arenas could potentially undermine the credibility of what's being presented.


replied to comment from Jarrett Smith

Jarrett, they also see the Games as proof of that science, and part of it as well. In a different post, Tony Budding recently outlined CrossFit as the inseparable combination of 1) a definition of fitness, 2) a formula for achieving that fitness and 3) the Games, which are the proving grounds of 1) and 2).

I don't think the Games are considered "less pure" than the other elements of CF.


Nigel Gordijk wrote …

There are health and fitness magazines that carry advertising for bodybuilding supplements, some of them with questionable efficacy. These mags also print features extolling the virtues of using supplements.

In accepting advertising and promotional consideration from third parties, Crossfit will have to ensure that it maintains its integrity when it comes to educating us about healthy eating and nutrition.


wrote …

Coming from both a journalism and advertising background, I have to say that Sam's post is worth reading and considering seriously. He's got it spot on and it's an issue that HQ should pay attention to beyond the release of this video.

As for a larger cash prize affecting the competition--I think the Olympics are the perfect analogue. Amateur athletes have a HUGE uphill battle in the Olympics because they have to compete against sponsored, professional athletes who train and get coached for a living--this was not always the case.

This is not to say the Olympics don't feature many of the most incredible athletes on the planet or that they are less entertaining because it has become a professional event, just that there is a different environment and different vibe surrounding them.

Perhaps crossfit and its competitions actually benefit athletes who have separate occupations--Mikko Salo and Tommy Hackenbruck come to mind--but I doubt that. Once there is a crossfit economy and athletes can get by simply by training and competing, then the stakes change, sponsorship begins to matter more and more, and the Games will change.

Currently there is a certain everyman, grassroots quality to the Games and its qualifiers. I'm skeptical that increasing the cash prize as well as sponsorship etc won't change that. Then again this change is probably unavoidable given crossfit's rapid increase in popularity.


replied to comment from Sam Ser

Trying to understand Coach's/HQ's view on all this, the title, "Sponsorship Not Endorsement," summarizes their message in three words. I know what "sponsorship" is; I know what "endorsement" is; I know what "not" means.

I thank Coach and HQ for both providing their viewpoint on this as well as clarification and intentions of their accepted sponsorship.


wrote …

Right now, some company is considering filming a commercial (if this is not underway already) featuring Mikko, Tanya, Jason Khalipa as solo champions, or some handful of top male and female performers bashing through a group WOD. It will be for that product - Gatorade, Under Armour, whatever - and will feature clips of hardcore training as well as a few bits from the official Games videos.

CrossFit will gladly license those Games clips for a small fee, but more importantly they'll allow the spot to mention CrossFit in its tagline, along the lines of 'Mikko Salo, CrossFit Games Champion 2009.' That way, the ad is technically advocating Mikko and whatever he's using in his training.

The target audience will be intrigued by the hardcore nature of the ad, they'll make the association with the product, but they'll wonder, 'What in the world is CrossFit?' Folks will hit the net to check it out, and with that comes a whole new customer base for certifications and boxes around the country. Coach will not have spent a dime.


wrote …

what DOES happen with that $150,000 per weekend from level I certs? (and extra money from the "specialty" certs?)


Dane Thomas wrote …

When organizers and support staff outnumber the participants and the needs and perceptions of the spectators become more of challenge than those of the competitors, you can be pretty certain that the event in question is more about entertainment than sport.

Understand that I am not saying that there is anything wrong with entertainment and there is definitely nothing wrong with getting paid to give people what they want.

Even so, it seems a bit dissonant for me to hear Coach claim that he would be willing to take money from Skoal tobacco or Jack Daniel's when in 2009 CFHQ turned down former sponsors who are nearly identically aligned with the foundational principles of CF.

I understand the difference between sponsorship and endorsement, but who you do and don't take money from sends a message whether you want it to or not.



replied to comment from Nicholas Kirkland

First, and I am somewhat biased, but I believe that Crossfit should endorse intelligent supplementation. Sure, the supplement industry is full of hype and outright lies, but that does not preclude the fact that certain supplements can and will aid your performance. If you want to be the best Crossfit athlete you can be, you should consider their use. What supplements? Well, things like a protein and carb shake taken after training. Creatine and beta alanine have both been proven over and over to aid performance. Fish oil is an excellent supplement for general health. There are a few others, but you get the point.

Second, corporate sponsorship is a fact of life if you want to have a world class event. The fact a supplement company sponsored the Crossfit games should bother no one. I think it is great that Crossfit was able to attract a sponsor that would give $15,000.



wrote …

Let me chime in with some random, rambling musings.

In previous lives, I have been a TV news director at a commercial TV station and a non-profit executive. The two positions had more in common than you might think. In each case, the idea was to:


The only challenge is to avoid having sponsors (or contributors) influence the content or substance of what you are doing. This common sense threshold test is easily met. It always amused me when my lefty friends assumed corporate advertisers influenced the content of newscasts. In fact, we were able to charge premium rates precisely BECAUSE of our reputation for integrity and independence. We assembled the audience, and then sold access. But content was never for sale.

Finally, a personal anecdote. I spent $100 to buy a pair of skins tights at the CrossFit Games. Why? The coach of my running club (who also owns a running shop) recommended them. And she almost never recommends stuff. So her endorsement counts. Then, I saw several Games competitors wearing skins. Then, I chatted with a senior company exec at the booth. So all the pieces fell into place. I bought the tights, was happy with them, and recommended them to other members of my club. Several of them then also purchased the tights. If there is a downside to this story, I can't see it.


Dale Saran wrote …

Sam's post here is worth considering, but let me start wth a disclaimer, I'm not speaking official company policy here. It's why I'm hesitant to wade in, but this is a fascinating issue. Let me try to answer about four things at once.

Sam, I think you're still a bit new to CF to see why the Mainpage remains clean of advertising. Look at any other site out there and it is ALL about pimping "product". What has attracted people to CF, and remains one of the primary distinctions of CF is that we don't take money from advertisers in order to allow them to target those who come to the Mainpage. We don't sell customer data from the message boards. We don't allow people to spam those who come to our site or otherwise mine the information - although I'm certain we have the data and probably could by the nature of how the internet works. Coach has probably been responsible for vast revenues to companies he has known only passingly and had no agreement with by placing them on the Main Page in the "Friends of CrossFit" section or whatever it says. Could we instead charge some kind of fee/percentage or whatever in order for a company like Concept 2 or whomever to have their link on the Mainpage? Sure, I suppose we could. But Coach put that info there as a way of giving CFers information (again, free of charge) that would help them to do CF. About 3-4 years ago there was a rope supplier who Coach had linked and people complained the ropes were fraying and breaking. Coach posted an article and complaints about it and gave the company a chance to make it right. I don't remember if they did, but their link is no longer there.

I've often wondered how many people have bought kettlebells, or d-balls, or oly lifting shoes, as a result of coming to this site and CF has seen zero revenue for that. Zero. That is, in the advertising and business world - insane. Which brings me to another question/answer - people wonder what happens to the seminar revenue and question how revenue is being spent - do you have any clue, any idea, what it takes to put on something like the Games - all over the world? Travel budget alone for CF would make one's skin crawl - for all of those seminars, trainers, hotels, etc. And again, CF does not pimp product or allow others to do so and it gives away knowledge for FREE. Heck, this "pay" section is the massive sum of US $2 a month. Yet how much do you think it costs to film the content that's on here? Or pay the writers for good content? And pay the editors? And the lawyers? Seriously, only those who have no concept at all of running a business would ask such a question.

Sam, I agree with you to a certain extent, but I also disagree with you. CF had Panda express at the 1st Games. Hardly the poster child for healthy eating that we advocate. Someone else asked about "competitors" to Dr. Sears advertising. We had paleo-kits last year at the Games. Ran out, in fact.

We also had Gatorade at the 1st Games. I'm sure someone sold hot dogs, too. Viking Tactics was there - they sell training with guns. Some people are against that. Some people are against Skoal. And McDonalds. So f'ing what? If someone doesn't like that, they don't have to buy it! No one is compelling anyone to buy a Big Mac at the Games. Or a beer (but we'll sell that, too, I'm sure.) We had Mazda - so what? Maybe Mazda isn't environmentally friendly (I have no idea), but no one is compelling anyone to buy a Mazda. I think, Sam, that if Purina wanted to hawk dog food at the Games, my guess is we'd say, "Sure, go ahead." It might not be the best way for them to spend ad revenue, but that's up to them.

I think we're confusing "target demographic" with "CrossFit brand image". The two are related, as Sam suggests, but not synonymous. The CF "crowd" may, generally, be a "fit" crowd, but that doesn't mean for an advertiser who has a "non-fit" product that there isn't a market to be targeted there, both in terms of income level, education, etc, for their product. We've got a lot of mil types in CF, many of whom dip or chew, I'm sure, so why shouldn't we have Skoal there, notwithstanding what they're selling? YOU (not directed at Sam, personally) may be personally offended and disagree with their "image", but there's some people who aren't. And there's a ton of guys staying awake on patrol in bad places by keeping a dip in their mouth. Bet on it (by the way, I ain't one - can't stand the stuff).

Just some random thoughts.


wrote …

Could Crossfit athletes go pro? Will we get to the point of individual athletes being sponsored? What if Mikko showed up next year wearing a Nokia garb? Or the Wärtsilä logo on his back? Or some other Finnish company.


replied to comment from Dale Saran


I came to the CF site about two years ago, and while that's not as long as many veterans I don't at all think it's too short a time to appreciate the value and the ethos of it. In fact, I LOVE the fact that there's no advertising on either the mainpage or the Journal.

Understand, I wasn't suggesting that there SHOULD be advertising on the site and in the Journal... although I wouldn't fault Coach for taking it; it's his business and he deserves to get out of it what he can. I just thought it strange that the "this costs money so we have to get money from somewhere" argument was applied selectively to the Games, and not to the site or the Journal. Especially in combination with the argument that there is absolutely no relationship whatsoever implied by advertising/sponsoring.

That seems like a contradiction to me, and asking "why not?" in relationship to the site and the Journal was a way of highlighting that contradiction.


replied to comment from Joe Mercurio

"The only people with objections, ironically enough, are under the impression that "others" will get the wrong idea. Where are these others? Who themselves has been deceived by this sponsorship?"

Genius. So the people who don't know about this article and the slightly odd situation where CrossFit is sponsored by products it doesn't endorse should post comments here under an article explaining it?

Your logic's utterly flawed. And as the rest of your argument is based on who can and can't think logically that argument falls down slightly.


wrote …

I feel bigger prizes would draw out more people. Look at people doing iron mans etc for a living many of these people are in it for the money and would not really care about some title but would enter if the prize was big enough.


wrote …

Not sure the issue here.

With respect to the prize money, it is a great sign of the sustainability of the Games. I believe that the more profitable the Games are, the more opportunities there will be for more people to compete in other crossfit type events (i.e. having regional series' similar to Triathlon). Along the same lines, profitability will bring market competition that can only be good for the community.

I also find it amusing all the people who have an issue with Crossfit in general making money on the games, certs, etc. (And, this is coming from someone who has NOT drank all the Kool-Aid)...From a completely selfish perspective, I hope they are making a ton of dough so that I keep getting a variety of sources for workouts for free (.com. CFFB, affiliates, etc.), and a ton of entertaining content for $30 in the journal. At the end of the day, all I care about is that I have knowledgeable and passionate people delivering my daily workout...and, always looking for a better way...nothing more...nothing less. I get that with Crossfit in spades.

Make no mistake, Crossfit is a business that is in business to make money...and there is nothing wrong with that. IMHO they have done things the right way, focusing on delivering "value first" and taking care of their "customer" by focusing on the steak instead of the sizzle. And that's the primary reason for their success. If they continue to grow and be successful, it will only benefit us as the consumer as other businesses (fitness industry or otherwise) will adopt similar models.


wrote …

Coach, your stated goals for the Games are laudable. Keeping service levels at the Games high while keeping costs down for competitors and spectators can be achieved.

By turning to commercial partners, you are following a well-trodden path. When the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, in 1896, Kodak took care of the event guides, in which the competition schedules were printed.

But advertisers, like athletes, have a choice. They will go with what serves them best. That’s why you don't take Nike's money and wear Reebok on the field of play.

And you don’t refer to an advertiser’s product as “that shit”.

When you build it well enough, companies will want to associate with your brand not just to advertise, but to have some of the magic rub off. Think about it: companies associate with the Olympic Games, just for the association. There is no advertising inside the venues. And the model successful; they pay the airfares for athletes to attend.

I’ve been really impressed by the way CrossFit is built on expert advice, the benchmarking of success, constant review and ruthless iteration. Apply the same approach to the Games and you’ll do fine.


(former Head of Communications for the Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee)


wrote …

I work in the nutritional industry. I own a business whereby I accept advertising. I would never, ever, take advertising dollars from a company or product I didn't endorse. Period.


wrote …

I may have skimmed through all the comments too quickly. But I am pretty sure coach said something about spectators being free. Can someone please chime in on the fact that if I want my mom and dad to come to a sectional they have to pay $100? That seems a little insane considering I paid $100 to compete. Now don't get me wrong I am sure putting on an event like this (I competed in a regional qualifier last year) cost an arm and a leg, not to mention the logistical nightmare. But really? charging for spectators?

Last year I paid $90 to compete in the regional qualifiers with free spectating. This year it's $100 for sectional qualifiers and another $50 for any spectators (besides my one freebie of course).



wrote …


I got one free spectator place as part of my $100 sectional.


wrote …

haha! specializing in not specializing to the max! I think Mcd's should offer CrossFit money!


Jeremy Stecker wrote …

#2 No Ego
#3 Have Fun

What was number 1? lol!


wrote …

Well, if the Glassman's want to profit from their hard work I believe they should have every opportunity. Whether that comes from certifications seminars or Games. But it seems that everything that follows money is not necessarily good. Increasing prize money for the games may very well lead some to find less than honest ways to increase their performance. I believe we can all look at professional sports to see this is true. Would that door open for drug improved performance if the prize money is high enough? Maybe so. Would we all be suspect if that happened and it was discovered? Probably.


wrote …

The CEO of Progenex, Darren Meade, has a restraining order on him from an ex-girlfriend, for posing a danger to her safety. The investment group that funds the company is run by another guy, Adam Zuckerman, who has a criminal record for fraud as well as threatening women.

The original founder (Connelly) left and is now involved in serious litigation versus the company. The product is no longer the original one, and there is no science to say it's better than any $5/lb whey protein on the market.

Why, again, would anybody support Progenex, or allow them to be a part of this community?

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