*The following has been adapted from CrossFit Brand X Teen Gauntlet information release statement*
Since 2011, CrossFit Brand X, birthplace of CrossFit Kids, has been developing the concept of the Varsity Teen Gauntlet. In practical terms, the event has evolved over the years, but the overarching goals have remained the same. These goals are embedded in the events run at the chosen affiliates worldwide who understand their intentions and represent them faithfully:
Fun . Community. Effort
The Gauntlet must be fun for the athletes. That should be a no-brainer, but problematically, adults hear the word “competition” and they inadvertently default to a mindset we see throughout our youth sports system. It redefines “fun” to mean “win.” The goal is for the athletes to have fun working hard alongside friends or soon-to-be friends and not worrying about winning. Yes, the Gauntlet keeps score and ranks those scores locally and internationally, but the hope is that the rankings serve to motivate athletes to give their best efforts and to reflect on how they can address shortfalls for the next event.
The Gauntlet fosters community among teen CrossFitters. Teens who met in 2011 are still friends today, keeping in touch through social media and seeing each other at Gauntlet events. There are teens who have travelled to CrossFit Brand X, for instance, in order to WOD with their friends at the Gauntlet, even though their home affiliate is hosting a Gauntlet as well. We ourselves at CrossFit 3D have had teens attend the Gauntlet just to help out and cheer on their friends, when they have not been able to compete themselves. Gauntlet athletes encourage each other during the toughest parts of the workouts and hang out with each other before, during, and after the event. For this camaraderie to spread and deepen organically, host affiliates work hard to create an atmosphere that encourages it. We encourage your own members to act as hosts, to be ambassadors and maybe step outside their comfort zone and seek out and befriend visiting athletes.
The Gauntlet honours and applauds effort over victory. Safety is paramount and excellent movement is inextricably tied to that. But nearly as important to that is that the athletes come to value the opportunity to put forth their best efforts under competitive conditions. To keep on pushing even if winning is not possible is true success. And we want that recognized and to that end, we as event announcers and organisers acknowledge such valiant efforts. In the long run, this will lead to a genuine understanding of the spirit of competition and provide kids with intangible tools that will serve them on and off the athletic field.
Fun. Community. Effort. We privilege these ideals to blunt the status quo win-at-all-costs mentality of youth sports that prowls the fence line of the Gauntlet. As hosts of the Gauntlet, we are representatives of these ideas and it will be through our concerted efforts that we may begin to see a change in attitude with regard to the purpose of youth sports for our kids.