The Banality of Elitism

By Dan Edelman

In Kids

June 18, 2012

PDF Article

Dan Edelman urges parents and grown-ups everywhere to resist the urge to adult-erate youth sports.

As a CrossFit Kids trainer, what do you do with a larval-stage firebreather?

Before answering, remember that this is CrossFit, which, as we know, forges elite fitness. Taking a broader cultural view, this is the U.S. A 10-year-old with a butterfly kip and muscle-ups? Ho-hum. Examples of the ever-more incredible are at our fingertips at all times. We are fast becoming numb to instances of the common executed uncommonly well.

It is within this environment that the CrossFit Kids program unveiled the Teen Challenge, a first-of-its-kind team exhibition involving adolescent CrossFitters, ages 13 to 18, that occurred at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games. In October 2011, Jeff and Mikki Lee Martin followed up with the first Gauntlet competition. CrossFit Kids HQ hopes to see this expand internationally in scope and magnitude. We envision these teen competitions as someday evolving into a full-blown youth sport with recreational and prep-school organization.

Here’s where we need to step carefully.

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6 Comments on “The Banality of Elitism ”


wrote …

This is a brilliant article - very well written, argued and researched. Thank you.


Bob Guere wrote …

I'm glad I came by the Journal today, Dan. Perfectly articulated as always.

"A CrossFit Kids program that becomes preoccupied with
the sporting side of CrossFit will subvert the Martins’ longstanding and meticulously tended culture of pursuing
fitness. If we allow that to happen, the sport of fitness,
despite all its current momentum, can fail."

The most powerful statement in your article, because of it's far-reaching impact. I happen to agree 100%. But looking at the current adult-version of CF, the "sporting" side is where the kids are headed by simple way of attrition.


wrote …

Good to hear from you, Bob. Thanks for reading the article and the kind words. You address an interesting issue. For what it's worth, I believe that if all CrossFit Kids programs stick with the Martins' core mission, CrossFit can not only avoid reproducing the worst aspects of the US sports system but also become a force for improving that system, particularly for youth. Real change will require more buy in from the youth sports establishment, but at least we are trying to move in the right direction.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to read my stuff as well as your thoughts on youth athletics.


wrote …

This covers a lot of ground, well, thanks Dan.

Linking fun and performance - allowing competition but only at the intensity level that serves a child's wellness - sacrificing money and time to "support" a kid's talent but not turning the kid's talent and performance into the means to serve the parent's emotional needs - tough issues. For those of us with kids who are not that talented, that stuff all seems miles away. Reading this, I'm thankful I don't have to address it.

What's relevant for me, with kids that are a little more athletically talented than I am, which is to say not elite, is weaving through the process of giving them a chance to improve the expression of their talent and perhaps making that a part of the overall parenting role. Teaching, inspiring, coaching, and putting kids into circumstances in which they have beneficial experience - CFK can be part of that.

I think performance matters to my kids a little right now. What they like best is getting my direct attention without having to compete with their siblings for that 20 minutes. I think that creates an a strong, positive association with good movement, fitness and work that is good for everyone - if I can walk the line between desire for performance and desire for virtuosity in movement. I think of it as setting the table with good food, they pick what to eat and how much.


wrote …

Absolutely awesome articulated a lot of things I have felt for a long time. I just began involving my 7-year-old Son in CF Kids. He plays YMCA Soccer for additional activities; however I have been worried about him getting involved in the "expensive" stuff, because it seems ridiculous to me that parents are spending thousands of dollars per year in the hopes that their kid "makes it." Not to mention the fact that it starts to not be "fun." I want my kids to grow up with the mentality that fitness is important, but that it becomes a good habit. Thanks for putting this out!


Rob Barrese wrote …

I'm sorry for the delay... I've been busy and meaning to get this read. Thank you Dan! Outstanding article in every aspect. Thank you for taking the time to piece this together!

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