There’s a set of subdued laws we are all expected to live by. Unwritten in school books, yet automatic to the human condition. A man once said “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” That man was a politician. If you don’t see the irony in that, I simply cannot help you.
In all seriousness, free of scrutiny, what changes behaviorally person to person? How skewed does the line of deviation between what’s right and what’s convenient become when no one is watching? And what impact does this have on the sport of fitness?
The practice of methodically omitting repetitions is one that can cause turbulence if found to be prevalent in an athlete’s repertoire. As a Coach, I’m obligated to make it known to the athlete that they shortchanged themselves. Most times, it’s an honest mistake. I naturally count reps when I’m eyeballing form and understand that competitors under duress may have a mental folly now and again, so my intention has never been to police reps throughout every WOD. However, a repeat offender should be granted no leniency in terms of being given the benefit of the doubt. My approach in those situations has always been to deliver a stern message via calm communication.
As an athlete, rep shaving can be infuriating. Imagine toiling for months and months only to be continually defeated by an athlete you suspect is shaving reps. It’s maddening. Once again, in my experience, it’s more beneficial to be cool than pernicious. If an athlete records a score that is questionable, keep any incertitude to yourself, or at most mention it to a Coach in private. Also rest assured, that athlete will be dead in the water come Open season, because Judges don’t shave reps.
Performance Enhancing Drugs.
In CrossFit, we’re branded the fittest, we’re made to survive. There’s strength in training as close to how nature intended us to be. Functionality is king. We endorse eating like a caveman and magnifying the thresholds of will and might. We are self governed and self reliant. The personification of a malignancy to our collective momentum towards wellness is an athlete or coach who is comfortable with casting a shadow on a community’s accomplishments by using or distributing banned substances to gain an edge. In my opinion, there should be zero tolerance for a person who is found to be ferrying performance enhancing drugs through a box. To be taken seriously as a competitor, one must never cheat, no matter how dire they perceive the circumstances to be. Claiming a win that wasn’t actualized while remaining in sound ethics is akin to fraud.
Unfortunately, unless an athlete is in the upper echelons our sport’s competitions, there is very little chance they will ever be subject to testing. Nevertheless, this fact should never be taken as a green light. I’m not proud to say that in my time as a Coach I’ve met athletes and coaches alike who have cut corners through doping to chase PRs. Personally, I have no respect for these people. Their actions are a direct affront to the standards of conduct and spirit we all know CrossFit was founded upon.
Since my immersion into the CrossFit community, it has become the largest franchised fitness chain on the planet. This is a beautiful fact, for as a Coach my idea of world peace includes everyone having a sub-5 Fran, including myself. However, in some locales, this success breeds healthy competition in having overlapping territorial demographics. The higher demand there is for quality coaching the more effective a career coach must become to retain membership. This cyclic increase in standards in turn acts as a pseudo-natural selection process in that only the those coaches who are fully dedicated to their craft will survive. In the end, this is good for the athlete and is therefore good for the community. However, one ugly side effect that has risen from CrossFit’s dog eat dog business model is the poaching of clientele. This entails coaches from a neighboring box attempting to recruit athletes from local competition in ways that would be considered in bad taste if aired publicly.
If a box operates as I imagine Coach Glassman intended them to, with a commitment to excellence in coaching and sound ethics in execution, then success is inevitable. If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
As a disclaimer, I must state that the above is equally applicable to athletes, coaches and box owners. No person should have the expectation of immunity from integrity, regardless of their “status” in the community. A perfect example of the pitfalls of turning a blind eye to cheating would be the calamity that has been the past two decades of Major League Baseball. Hitting records have been redacted. Fans can’t trust the product put forth. The sport has irreparably suffered due to a lack of checks and balances, and more so, integrity.