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Dave Castro is Back! What Does it Mean for the Future of the Games Season?

July 7, 20236 min read

Written by Mike Halpin

TDC is back! Heading into the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games next month, Castro, who has been back with CrossFit for a bit now is now leading all facets of the spectacle as the General Manager of Sport.

Based on social media posts this past week, this includes seeing a full run-through of what Adrian Bozman has programmed for this year’s Games and making some changes and tweaks based on “Dave’s Week in Review”. 

Before we get ahead of ourselves, and into the rush of the Games, I’d like to look back at a different YouTube video put out when Castro was last Director of Sport.

In November 2021, Castro was on the CrossFit Games Podcast with Chase Ingraham to make an announcement regarding the upcoming 2022 season. A season we now know that he wouldn’t be a part of (as he would later be let go from the company in January).

During that podcast, Castro and Ingraham take a look back at the 2021 season, Castro takes ownership of controversial changes and they talk through the newly announced model for the individual, age groups and adaptive divisions, which Castro says, “sets the foundation for the future”. 

We can see the fruits of what he planted a few years back today. 

Many of the aspects we see in the 2023 season started with this announcement in 2021. During the 2022 season, we saw two workouts programmed by CrossFit and Castro says he would like to see more to tell a fuller story with a through line of the season and allow for analysis of athletes all doing the same tests going into the Games; we now see all 16 Tests programmed by CrossFit from Open through Semifinals (which we have been able to analyze).

Age groups were announced to have both online Quarterfinals and online Semifinals; now we see the continuation of that season process and multiple teen and masters athletes were able to do both online Age Group Semifinals and Individual or Team semifinals…and in what Castro calls a “controversial change”, the Age Groups would only have 10 spots at the Games.  We see that has all stayed, but this year the Age Groups get a bit more spotlight having their competition earlier on in the Games week versus on the same days as the Individuals and Teams.

Age Groups At the Games

The status of ‘Age Group at the Games’ is where I am most interested based on what Castro said nearly two years ago.  

At the 12:45 mark in the podcast, Castro says he “does see a future…where we completely pull the Age Groups out of the Games and have their own Games (on a separate timeline from the Games each August). “That’s not happening this year [2022] but would like that to happen very shortly”.

He circles back on this plan throughout the podcast including an option to see athletes do both Games within a single season. We see athletes like Olivia Kerstetter, who has decided she will only do the Individual Games, and athletes like Trista Smith and Jenn Ryan, where they did both the online Age Group Semifinals and the Individual Semifinals this season. Athletes 16-17 and 35+ could potentially do both the Individual/Team Games season and do the Age Group season within the same year.  

This was stated to be a positive and a priority within the next few years. 

Looking at the metrics, after the 2021 season, when this would be reviewed, we saw around 42,000 men and women in the 35-39 division and around 3,600 boys and girls in the 16-17 divisions, these being the divisions most impacted by this possible change. Fast forward to 2023 we now have nearly 60,000 men and women in the 35-39 Age Group division and a slightly shrinking teen division of 3,356 athletes. These 63,000 athletes are competing for 40 total spots in the current Games season.

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With a split out from the single Games season to their own CrossFit-owned and operated competition, we could see a bigger spotlight on the Age Groups, where currently they are in the shadow of the Games today.

It’s good to have Castro back and to see a focus on making both the Individual/Team Games AND the Age Group and Adaptive Games as a priority. We hope to hear more of what he has planned for his role as the Games approaches.

Note: I reached out to Castro to inquire if this was still a priority, to split out the Age Groups from the Games, he acknowledged my question but did not answer it any further.

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Mike Halpin

Similar to someone learning the CrossFit methodology for the first time, Mike learned CrossFit writing and analysis by working with a coach, Brian Friend, and just showing up daily to accomplish a new task and learn new skills. Mike’s main passion and focus in the space is on making the Sport more Known & Knowable, whether be shining a light on new or lesser known rules, giving athletes more spotlight in the WZA and Semifinals broadcasts or diving into the big data around the CrossFit season. Mike started CrossFit in the summer of 2020 and got his L1 in 2022 to help train his kids and family and be able to support his missionary work overseas. Photo credit: @damiantran12

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