Q: Is it time for a sponsored, professional Crossfit Team?

A: Muscle Driver, which is a manufacturer and distributor of athletic equipment, has recently created Team MDUSA that will train in their custom facility in South Carolina under Glenn Pendlay for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting.  These athletes receive a stipend and train together as a group.  They’re allowed to work elsewhere and have opportunities to make money teaching seminars, appearances and so on.

Currently, the state of top-level training and sponsorship in Crossfit is:

  • Vendors are cherry-picking athletes to create individual sponsorships.  Some of those vendors are marketing their group of Crossfit Games athletes as a “Team.”  However, said “Team” is pretty much in name only as they are just a group of individuals spread across the country.

  • On their own, top-level competitors are training together.  For example, Patrick Barber, Jason Khalipa and Neal Maddox are all training at Khalipa’s gym.  Patrick has   Dan Bailey moved to train with Games’ champion Rich Froning in Tennessee.  

  • Many of the top-level guys are still working full-time jobs in order to live.  Aja Barto from the South Central is training full-time for the Games, running a new affiliate and working for his old gym.

Is it time such a model was adopted for an all-star team of Crossfitters?  How much would it cost?

Team MDUSA has three stipend levels.  4 at $1000/month; 3 @ 700/month; 3 @ 400/month.  Total of $7300 / month or $87,600 / yr.

They likely have to pay a reasonable salary to Pendlay.  Let’s say that’s $75k.  Facility upkeep, marketing, etc. probably add up to another $15k / yr with travel expenses for events at another $30k.  So, a likely budget for Team MDUSA of about $200,000 per year.  

Who could afford this and have it make sense?  For a big distributor of equipment, definitely doable.  For a Reebok, it’s a drop in the bucket.  For Again Faster or Rogue, they’re big enough to get into this sponsorship deal for real and stop dabbling.  Having your name and t-shirt shown on ESPN at the Games about 45 times an hour would be worth the money.

Michael Girdley