When I see the child-play involved in the cross-federation world of athletics its like they all line up and sing this song.
Canada is in an uproar because strongman JF Caron was voluntold to withdraw from Quebec’s Strongest Man and ultimately Canada’s Strongest Man. JF’s recent Facebook status reads:
“I have just received a call from Hugo Girard telling me that I am not allowed to participate in the competition of Quebec’s strongest man therefor I will not be able to go to Canada’s Strongest man to defend my title this year at Expo Quebec in 2 weeks.”
In a radio interview with a local station JF sums up the situation like this:
“Only discovered through an online press release that my name wasn’t listed as an athlete for the national event. Only 4 places remain which would be determined by placings of the Quebec event held on the 16-17 August.”
“(…) I don’t usually need to qualify at provincials in order to compete at the national event seeing that I’m a defending champ. I then proceeded to register for the provincial event, which should be open to everyone, but was informed via Hugo Girard that I was prohibited to compete in both provincial and national events.”
“Hugo’s lawyers reported that Canada’s Strongest Man is now an amateur event and as a pro athlete I can no longer participate. (…) an athlete becomes a pro because he has more experience and also competes in a different calibre of event with respect to the weights of the implements used.”
“As a Strongman athlete all I want is an opportunity to compete and now that opportunity is taken away from me (…) and I can’t even defend my title. It’s like taking a pro boxer out of his defending champ match and putting in two amateurs and naming one of them a champ instead; if you want to be a champ you have to beat the champ.”
Caron finishes by expressing his interest in pursuing the matter legally and that this incident wont impact his participation in the Worlds Strongest Man.
If you feel like brushing up your French you can listen in on the full interview here:
I don’t know the story behind it all nor do I know Hugo or JF personally so I won’t to play ref on who pulled who’s hair first but I think this is yet another example that Canada’s got some work to do.
I feel it important to underline the following: a federation, championship, event can all be replaced by the word corporation. Corporations are businesses and their goal is to make money. Like in most sports, you need a promoter to organize and host an event for athletes and sometimes they report up higher through their tier system and abide to the core values, rules and regulations and fee structure of their governing body. NAS in the US is prime example of this in Strongman.
As a new athlete in the sport I felt that women needed much greater representation in Canada and thus Strongwoman Aimee was created – however the problem is deeply seeded.
If the US is good at one thing its creating business opportunities out of anything. Crossfit was a business that has grown exponentially and is run by business people. The Crossfit business is so effecient that it’s become an important platform for Strongman sport in the US.
…and then there’s Canada. There’s a certain aspect of Strongman that is deeply rooted in Canadiana (which is worthy of a separate blog post) and that strongman Canadiana is very afraid to tarnish its hardcore identity. We have many freaks of nature, which is very good for business because watching a big dude pulling a firetruck is much more appealing than a bunch of international skinny dudes faking injuries.
What I see here is a missed business opportunity. Here’s how I think it should be played out:
STEP 1: DESIGN A LEADERSHIP PLATFORM
Find someone who really wants to make money, ideally a non-athlete and not someone looking for greater self-promotion. This is going to be a lot of work so it should be someone savvy in the ways of running a business and can reel in a committee, staff whatever it takes to keep it running and growing.
STEP 2: SET SHIT UP
Come up with some core values, some rules, a membership platform that doesn’t exclude anyone – because there are only so many freaks of nature on this planet and you ain’t gonna make some money if you turn everyone else away. Set up a tier system – cause you want to keep making money and give oldies incentive to get better and newbies incentive to try something new.
STEP 3: MARKET YOURSELF
This is where your freaks of nature come in, these are your poster boys. Use them to gain greater sponsorship, give these big boys bigger cash prizes because lets face it – they drive this sport in media and media people like to make money too by selling more magazines to kids who will someday give you money to be a member. Oh! and a website – please. When I Google Strongwoman + Canada I’d like to see something I understand.
STEP 4: FIND PROMOTERS
Create incentive for gyms (yes, even Crossfit gyms) to organize an event for you. Smart gym owners aren’t schmucks and know that a) organizing an event is good for business and b) affiliating themselves with you is even better for business.
STEP 5: FIND ATHLETES
This means everyone: youth, lightweights and dear god even women. Don’t exclude anyone from the opportunity to be cool as sh*t. Don’t turn a single dollar away – each “member” pays a membership fee. The more money you make, the more you can market your sexy freaks and the more that dollar keeps coming back to you.
Ta-da! You have created growth!
In the end, the pros have nowhere to play, the amateurs can only play sometimes and the lightweights and ladies play in the other sandbox. Oy – what a mess (I got sand up my knickers).
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And they’re like
It’s better than yours,
Damn right it’s better than yours,
I can teach you,
But I have to charge