A recent criticism of Crossfit, to which I have zero affiliation or commercial interest, is that competing in Crossfit and the Crossfit games themselves are “competing to be the best exerciser,” which is damn funny.

The premise here is that we train for something, whether it be a team sport, martial arts, life in general. The criticism/joke relies on the idea that lifting weight, swinging fitness ropes, gymnastic hybrid movements, and any other fitness modality will provide a physical benefit in the “primary” sport/activity.


The importance of a particular sport is still abstract. Man picks up heavy object and carries it to designated line vs. Man takes wooden stick and hits leather-covered sphere thrown by other man. That the later activity (baseball, PLEASE let this have been your guess) generates huge interest worldwide and, subsequently, large amounts of money, does not make it any better as a competitive activity or sport.

Far from a being a philosophical-at-best discussion, this has real world implications. For the ASD population, our cultural obsession with youth sports has spawned “Adaptive” soccer, baseball, and other sports leagues. Why sports? Because that’s what we do. Sports are popular and so kids should play them, so goes the idea that led us to where we are today with a highly inactive young population but plenty of soccer fields. For many individuals with autism, the very abstract concepts of game play (offense, defense, outs, strikes, goals, winning, losing) hold no value.

We can, in some cases, teach the rules or contingencies of game play, but spending two months teaching that after you hit/kick the ball you run to first base and then stay there, there!, THERE! while waiting for someone else to take their turn does no pass my cost/benefit analysis.

Teach movement. Good movement. Build strength and stability and motor planning. Make it reinforcing and, over time, something to be sought out independently. Build social connections through non-competitive activities and use competitive activities if/when applicable.

So yes, competitive Crossfit does hold to high esteem the “best exerciser,” but in fairness, football holds in high esteem the guy who can hit hard enough to elicit early-onset dementia.

Live Inspired,