The Central East is arguably the toughest division for an individual male competitor in CrossFit. Rich Froning, Scott Panchick, Marcus Hendren and Nick Fory all call that Region home, as well as CrossFit’s ‘forgotten’ man—2010 Games champion Graham Holmberg.
This past weekend all of these athletes were vying for a podium spot and an automatic place at the Games this summer, and while Froning and Panchick were the favorites for the top 2 spots, 3rd place was somewhat up for grabs. Despite a valiant effort that saw him win two events and never place outside of the top 11, Holmberg finished 4th overall, with Will Moorad clinching the 3rd and final spot behind Froning and Panchick.
Even so, Holmberg should be getting an invite to the Games.
Wait, what? A lot of you will know that CrossFit HQ “reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to invite past winners, guest athletes, Teams or others, to participate in any stage of competition. This decision may be made to preserve the traditions and spirit of the CrossFit Games or for any other reason at the sole discretion of CrossFit, Inc.” But for Holmberg, he can expect an invite every year. Why? Because he won the 2010 CrossFit Games, and part of Holmberg’s prize package that year was a lifetime Games entry. Lifetime.
Obviously, this award is a little antiquated and in hindsight, the Games staff might regret including such a clause in the 2010 victory spoils. There is already a debate on whether current champion Sam Briggs should receive an invite after finishing 4th at the European Regionals, with many people making the valid point that her place at Carson needs to be earned, despite her dominant performance in the Open and title to her name.
So if Briggs doesn’t ‘deserve’ to go, why should Holmberg get an invite? Well, this is different. Obviously, this isn’t up to Holmberg—he didn’t make the rules in 2010 and for his efforts of becoming a CrossFit Games champion, HQ decided to reward him with a lifetime invite. To take that away now would be unfair and devalue CrossFit’s recognition of Holmberg as a champion. If you work hard at the office to get that promotion and raise, but are then told that they’ll have to take the bump in your salary away from you, how would you feel? Sounds pretty unjust doesn’t it?
Holmberg is a famous name in our sport, though his best days may be behind him. Even so, he is a classy competitor, and I believe that he will most definitely be at the Games. The question is, ‘Will it be as a competitor or a spectator?’