Sunday, February 14, 2016
Basic safety - weightlifting competitions
It seems as our sport of weightlifting grows, the need to ensure a basic safe physical environment for lifters has waned as a priority.
This is reminiscent of the culture exhibited at the 2015 Crossfit Games, where the rigs got so hot from being in the sun all day, that athletes' skin was peeling-off during pull-ups ( see reference at end of article).
This past weekend, I was at a 2 day competition in Massachusetts. The weather was unseasonably cold;still, not anything that New Englanders haven't seen before. It was widley publicized on social media and the news that the weekend would be very cold-- ie your heat would need to be on.
The first day, our lighter lifters competed. There was an obvious issue with the building HVAC- the warm-up room seemed to never get above 60degrees. The crossfit owner was notified, and attempted to turn up the heat.
To my surprise, many of the lifters were missing lifts. Athletes who normally would go 5 or 6 for 6 were going 2 for 6. I would even say I saw more missed than usual at the competition as a whole.
When we arrived at the competition, the building was even Colder than the day before. The warm-up area was in the 40's. I went as far as to talk to the meet diector and call the building owner as lifitng in sub 50 degree in a proper lifting uniform is recipe for pulling a muscle. The crossfit owner seemed completely ambivalent about the situation.
Certainly, having known the heat was not working the day before-- he could have taken simple preventative measures such as: setting-up 2 or 3 space heaters in the warm-up room, and calling his landlord until the HVAC was adjusted( trust me the state of massachusetts takes landlords freezing their tennants seriously).
For the record, the warm-up room never warmed to above 51 degrees even with over 30 competitors.
Below is a photo of the audience wearing winter jackets and hats to brave the ridiculous conditions:
Why you should care and how it affects you:
When you compete in a sport, you are accepting risk. And, the amount of risk you accept is limited. We go into competitions with basic assumptions that the environment will be safe.
Permitting lifters to compete in conditions where they can get hypothermia or tear a muscle - ie competing in a tiny spandex singlet for a 2+ hour session in sub-50 degree - is at best insensitive at worst negligent.
Especially as weightlifting is a summer in door sport, and uniforms are designed for "room temperature" conditions.
Having been in the sport for over 20 years, I have the blessing and curse of knowing what can happen. Maybe if I was a newer lifter, I would have toughed out the fact that I couldnt feel my legs, that my toes were frost bitten,and rolled the dice with injury.
But, I know better. When I paid $100 to compete at this competition, I didnt sign-up to risk injury. I didn't sign-up to throw away months of training for a chance at a shiny trophy.
Im ending my post here as -Adding insult to injury- I need to drive an hour home, then turn the heat in my gym and do a workout, because the competition environment deprived me of one.
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