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Incase you missed it, an elite CrossFitter had a freak accident in a big competition this past weekend. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. This note from “Ben Smith’s Dad” captures what’s going on right now excellently. Time for Ol’ BSD to weigh in on the topic of Kevin Ogar, which has sparked broad sympathy and an outpouring of support, but also debate across a number of topics and forums, both within CrossFit and beyond the rose colored lenses of Le Crawz. This will resemble more of a blog post than my standard blast, so feel free to tune out now if you’re part of the TL;DR crowd. I will approach this as I always do, with crass humor and little regard for the feelings of people I’ll never meet, yet feel the need to be offended by words on a page upon which they voluntarily clicked. Let this be clear from the start though, at no point during this likely rant will I treat Kevin or his struggle with anything but deference and complete humility. This poor man is fighting both the physical and mental wounds of an injury that no one should ever suffer, especially in the prime of their life. Kevin, if this post finds its way to you, I hope it provides you a few laughs and reveals to you yet another corner of the fitness world that supports you entirely and wishes you a full recovery. For the rest of you, feel free to comment and share, but for BSD’s sake, don’t just write some vacuous B-hole comment like “well said.” I know it was well said, that’s why I fucking said it. Many of you know that wherever someone is snatching, BSD is there. I am an omnipresent force, silently judging your strength and technique, and most often, disapproving. In the case of Kevin, however, I was actually physically present. Far closer to the action than anyone knows really. In addition to being an eyewitness, and therefore able to dispel much of the misinformation being spread, I have also seen the video dozens of times now as I continue to try to grasp how this tragedy unfolded. If the video happens to come across your screen, I suggest you don’t watch it. It’s a sterile, quiet version of what keeps playing in my mind, but it’s still awful to see and you’ll wish you hadn’t. To provide a backdrop for those who are still struggling to piece the timeline together, this happened during the second event of the day, sometime around 11:00. The competitors had finished a grueling, weighted run roughly three hours prior, an event that Kevin crushed. He was feeling strong coming into this event, a bracket style strength workout consisting of five heats. The top four men from each heat would move to the next round. Round one was a 3rm touch and go snatch, round two was a 3 position clean & jerk, and round three was a 2rm back squat. Before the event began, an excited Kevin told the organizers he was excited for it and intended to snatch 270# for 3. Kevin was possibly the biggest competitor in the field, powerful, and probably the least likely person I’d have picked to get injured in a movement with which he felt so comfortable. Many have criticized the programming, saying the volume of work previous to this event was too high, that the competitors’ CNS was worn down to a point they may not be able to react quickly to a missed rep. That a 3rm snatch for load is crazy, or that the strength event should have been Event 1, not 8 (really Event 6). That the plates were too closely stacked to the platforms. My first comment is that some of these criticisms may be valid. Perhaps, as Patrick McCarty states in his Breaking Muscle article (a good read if you haven’t already), if any one of these links in the chain had been broken, this would not have happened. My second comment is Shut the Fuck up you whiny little pansies. Had there been a snowstorm in Colorado and Kevin’s flight been cancelled this would not have happened either. Or, if like his training partner and best friend Matt Hathcock, Kevin had been hit with a respiratory illness and pulled out of the competition this wouldn’t have happened. You simply cannot control all the variables or the outcome in something that is inherently risky. What are these competitions if not a test of strength and skill under fatigue? Did any competitor actually expect to walk into this and perform in a totally rested state? Of course not. These people train at a level of intensity every single day that would make even seasoned CrossFitters tap out. Kevin and his fellow competitors in the OCT were the top echelon of CF’ers, so to question their capacity or the state of their CNS heading into this event is an exercise in ignorant futility. Only Kevin and his fellow competitors know how they felt and if they were up to the task. That Kevin intended to snatch 270×3 tells me he felt ok. To strip out fatigue is to change the “sport” entirely. Fatigue quite simply is an unavoidable hazard of this sport, just as collisions are in football. A hazard that Kevin did not shy away from, but met head on, as he had countless times before. Why? Because he is a man. The kind of man who built the Eiffel Tower out of steel and brawn. The kind whose drive you may not understand, which renders your opinion on the topic meritless and simply a peripheral annoyance. Take your soft hands, weak lats and penchant for pumpkin spice lattes and go play a non contact sport or something. Maybe go catch a Joaquin Phoenix movie or something with Judi Dench. You’re in the way of the rest of us who will not be deterred from lifting weights and advancing the imperialism of the American man. It was this drive and fortitude that propelled him to the top of the field and will propel him to recover beyond his doctors’ expectations. Who are we to tell someone superior to us in their field that they should not do something because of the risk? By this rationale, progress would never be made. This does not mean that we should not take every measure possible to decrease the probability of these risks, but lets not act like we can eliminate them without eliminating the sport, or whatever you want to call it. Personally, I find the thought of beating the crap out of myself for an entire weekend undesirable, but guess what, it’s not up to me to tell others what to do. Except my family and everyone on my cul de sac. I run that shit with an iron fist. Now, to explain what actually happened. Kevin loaded 235 on his bar, a weight he was more than comfortable hitting for 3 reps. The programming decision to have a 3 rm snatch for load has been debated, but what seems to be lost is that this happened on his first rep, not his third. Kevin had a perfect setup, easily pulled the weight overhead, and dropped into his squat, arms locked out. He began to stand the weight up. Everything was going fine and Kevin was on his way to completing his first rep when suddenly his legs just gave out and he dropped straight down to the floor, landing with heels out, knees bent as he let go of the bar. His torso bent forward, and just after he hit the ground, the bar struck his back, then bounced backward as he collapsed backward between the plates on either side of the back of the platform. The barbell hit him first, then hit the stack of 45lb plates before continuing in the same path backwards. It did not ricochet into his back and he did not fall into the plates. Though the plates were a hazard and could have contributed to an injury, they had nothing to do with Kevin’s freak accident. It is my belief that based on how he landed his body had no more room to give as he was already bent forward. His spine absorbed the full impact of the falling weight while his body was in a compromised position. He jolted upward and then I watched as his body fell backwards, and it became immediately clear that he was gravely hurt. I will never forget the look on his face as he lay there unable to feel or move his legs. He was fully conscious and unfortunately, fully aware of what had just happened to him. It wasn’t until later that evening that we all received confirmation of what we feared. Kevin, I am so sorry that I couldn’t help you in that moment. We all know what happened next, and I’m not going to rehash it. It does no good to Monday morning quarterback the situation, and not just because quarterbacks are Ugg boot wearing pussies. This was the first incident of its kind, the one we learn from. Should paramedics have been there sooner? Of course. But that would’ve been possible had the OC Fairgrounds not had every gate locked except the last Gate on the property. I’m no doctor, but I’m not sure a quicker response would’ve changed the outcome anyway. Instead, this is the part where every competition host needs to step up to ensure the safety of their guest competitors is maximized and that no precaution or resource is shaved for the sake of profit. Where athletes and their coaches demand to see the controls put in place before they set foot on the field, and where spectators understand their admission may cost $15 more per ticket so that the host can afford to put on a professional caliber event with full safety measures on site. You want a professional event where everything runs like clockwork, big talent competes, judges are competent and fair, and safety is paramount? Then pay up you cheap bastards. Otherwise you’re just complaining about a problem you’re unwilling to help fix. This is still an amateur spectacle, despite people dedicating themselves to it full time. As sad as it is, an incident like this will help improve the quality of all aspects of future competition. To all those who consider themselves professionals in CrossFit, if you haven’t already taken the steps to obtain insurance, please report to the cul de sac where I will proceed to beat you with my heavily calloused hands. This goes for trainers, affiliate owners, competitors, and the owners of fledgling CF related companies. Yes, I know it’s expensive. I understand you aren’t covered by a low premium, low deductible group plan. Figure it the fuck out. Especially those of you with dependents. Maybe lay off the $300/mo Progenex stack and apply that towards coverage. You are in a hazardous line of work and if you don’t accept that now, then your pre-existing condition is clearly brain damage. Change your priorities in life so that this crucial coverage can be obtained. Train 3 hours less per day and pick up some shifts to afford it, marry someone with coverage, I don’t care, just get covered. Kevin is a beloved figure in the community and thankfully people want to help him, but you can bet the generosity will wane for the next guy. You cannot be reliant on someone else for your needs. For such a conservative, hard working group as you CrossFitters, this should be innate. Trainers, demand your affiliate owners provide coverage. Athletes, demand your sponsors give you acces to or money for coverage. EVERYONE, demand HQ provide the support and infrastructure you need beyond just the brand name and the Games. They have to be part of the solution and I hope they recognize that now. Their model, while unique and hands-off your decisions as an affiliate owner, have left thousands vulnerable to the catastrophic situation Kevin now faces. Ultimately it’s your responsibility, but it’s time for open-source, closed-door Glassman to make a difference in the lives of the community he created. Hopefully he does care about the health and well being of his disciples and I will commend him and HQ if they deliver on this. Finally, despite the many criticisms I have of CrossFit, it’s adulation of forehead-slapping promotion of physical stupidity, it’s manifestation of tardation, and its preponderance of douchebags, both HQ and the community have really delivered to support a great guy who needs all the help he can get. As I write this, $200k has been raised, which will provide an enormous amount of care, but still falls short of what Kevin will need over his lifetime. HQ has announced a significant donation, and companies like Kill Cliff and 2Pood have pledged support in the tens of thousands of dollars. If you have already donated, open up your wallet and donate again. If you are a CF related company, this is your opportunity to show you’re truly a part of the community and not just looking to profit off the dollars CrossFitters are so eager to blow on your products. Rogue, Progenex, lets see six figures out of you guys. Bill Henniger and Paul Gomez, people like Kevin Ogar helped build your businesses to become the leaders in CF they are today. Reebok, show your commitment to the sport. Everyone else with a dollar to spare, give it to Kevin or face the wrath of a very tight knit community that has plenty of other options and will know whether or not you supported their friend Kevin. And to you leeches trying to profit off Kevin’s tragedy, we trolls will come after you like we’re Liam Neeson and you kidnapped our daughter (not that BSD would have a daughter). If you are going to contribute, do it wholly. A portion of profits is not acceptable. All profits is acceptable. A portion of proceeds is acceptable, but that should be defined as all proceeds above cost. Do not use this to market your product or expand your brand. Do not say you’ll give $25 for each person that signs up for your camp. The Infidel jerk learned this lesson the hard way a few months back. Contribute selflessly and you’ll find yourself more tightly connected than ever before. Try to make a profit off this and you’ll be exposed. We’re all rallying around Kevin Ogar and #Ogarstrong. He has great leadership in Barbells 4 Boobs and Matt Hathcock and with your continued help will be OK. It can’t be posted enough, so here’s his link again. Www.kevinogar.com Donate, and then step back in front of that barbell. There is risk in everything worth doing, and that most certainly includes the Iron. Real men like Kevin know and accept this risk to be great.
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