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What is the NPFL? and Why You Should Pay Attention To It

what-is-npfl
Update: After writing this article, the NPFL changed it’s official name to the NPGL or National Pro Grid League. All of the other information in this post is still relevant

There’s quite a bit of buzz lately around the National Pro Fitness League or NPFL in the CrossFit community. There’s been talk of combines and teams and paid athletes, but not everyone I’ve talked to truly knows what it is.

What it’s Not

First off, it’s not officially sponsored by CrossFit HQ, the NPFL is it’s own entity and exists outside of the influence of the main CrossFit HQ. Secondly, it’s not a workout methodology. (Yes, some people have told me they thought this is what it was) In fact, it’s not really touted as “CrossFit” or “CrossFit-ish”.

What it Actually Is

According to the NPFL website, the NPFL is “the world’s first professional spectator sport with co-ed teams competing in human performance races”. Currently there are 8 teams signed and the league is already looking at the potential of doing expansion teams in the next few years. The current teams are:

The teams will compete against each other in a season similar to the NFL or the NBA. No word yet on any television coverage (that would be really cool) but so far most of their events have been streamed online, so you do have the chance to watch them there.

Why It’s Really Cool

Specialization

One of the more innovative ideas is the ability to sub out athletes at any point during an event. This gives rise to a whole new level of strategy. For example, let’s say the workout is 50 Deadlifts at 315 and 25 Muscle Ups (I’m making this up obviously). Let’s say on our team we have a guy who has a max deadlift of 500+ pounds. Obviously we want him to crush that portion of the workout, but then he could tag out to another athlete who is more nimble (and most important fresh) to complete the muscle ups. This is pretty cool, but you could also sub out DURING a set as well. Let’s say you don’t have alot of strong people and those Deadlifts are heavy for your team. You can have 2 people do something like 5 reps each, and keep rotating through until they complete the workout.

What this does is allows individual athletes to specialize in their particular strength. Which may be go against training methodologies, but remember this isn’t training this is competing

Team Work

Another interesting piece is the concept of team work. In the Las Vegas combine this past week, there was an event that had 30 Clean and Jerks (265 M, 185 W, if I remember correctly) with the stipulation that the bar could not touch the ground. What the teams did was allow one person to lift 5 reps or so, then 2 people would grab the bar on the side and allow that person to swap spots with them. So 2 people held the bar while 1 person got in position to take the weight and start lifting it. This gives way to another level of strategy that we’ve yet to see at typical CrossFit competitions.

Athletes and Judges are Paid

At the local level and even the Games level, there is frustration with the volunteer judges that help run the event. The NPFL is paying all judges as employees of the League, which means if you don’t perform well as a judge and enforce standards properly you’re out. This is a great way to tackle the issue of quality event judges.

As far as the athletes are concerned, 2 men and 2 women compete at each event. If you are one of the 2 men or women asked to compete you are paid $2,500 (win or lose). Not a bad purse for showing up and trying to win an event.

“Famous” Athletes are Competing.

Split among the teams you’ll see some of the “famous” names in CrossFit like Marcus Hendren, Neal Maddox, Spencer Hendel, Lindsay Valenzuela, Nate Schrader and Taylana Fortunato have all been signed to the existing teams.

Overall I’m really excited about the league. I think it will be fun to watch and I’d love to get involved at a live event. I think ultimately it will help push the “competitive” side of the CrossFit world further. I think that you should be excited about it to. If you haven’t heard about it or you’re a little curious as to what it is. Check out the NPFL site and watch some of the footage from the Vegas Combine. You’ll be a convert soon I promise.

Are you interested in the NPFL? Do you think in the next few years, we’ll be playing Fantasy Fitness as well as Fantasy Football? Leave a note in the comments below!

  • Derek

    I can’t wait for the draft and then the matches to start

    • EveryLastRep

      Yea me either. I did hear a great quote from the guy in charge. He said: “This isn’t a workout. It’s a professional sports competition”