This could be a long post with a list of reasons to make my point and another list of reasons on why my point might be off base.  This post could be discussed from a variety of different angles and perspectives, bringing in viewpoints of people smarter than me.  This post will be neither of the above, because I just want to ask the question.   One of the biggest topics of conversation in the competitive OCR community is “OCR as a recognized sport.”  It is discussed ad nausea with different levels of optimism and varying reasons on what is necessary for OCR to emerge as a true sport.

I’m going to throw another question into this discussion.

Is the OCR industry and the viability of OCR as a sport at odds?  In other words, is the current state of business holding the sport back?

Merrian-Webster defines sport as “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.”  Clear enough and essentially contains one component of what many have said must happen….a standard set of rules that everyone plays by.

Merriam-Webster define industry as “a distinct group of productive or profit-making enterprises.”

A group of enterprises is what OCR has now……the Big 3 (Spartan, Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder), a secondary tier of national races (Superhero Scramble, Rugged Maniac, Savage Race, etc.) and a gazillion local and regional races.  All of these races are trying to turn a profit.  Some obviously are doing better than others.  As an INDUSTRY, each of these companies is competing against the others for revenue and doing whatever necessary to capture their particular niche of the market.   You don’t hear about companies collaborating with each other to standardize, to form governing bodies, or devise mutually acceptable strategies.  No, you hear all of them scratching and clawing to make their race the most successful it can be.  Industry forces are currently preventing collaboration, just like it does in most every other line of business.  Spartan talks about making obstacle racing a sport.  Let me restate that.  Spartan talks about making Spartan Races an Olympic sport.  Extreme Nation has it’s eyes on OCR as a sport, but a sport in Extreme Nation terms.  Let me also state that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are doing.  This is a capitalist country and the owners have significant money invested in their companies.  Their focus, at least in the early stages, has to be on their own well-being.

The question is can and how will the industry co-exist alongside a sport with formal governing rules?  What will happen to the start-ups, local, and regional races?  Are the two at odds?  Will there eventually be a split between obstacle racing and mud runs?  What will Tough Mudder do if OCR becomes a sport?  Will they stick by their “it’s a challenge, not a race” creed?  I could go on and on and on and on, but I won’t.

I want to hear your thoughts on this.  Please comment and take it in any direction you want.  I just asked the question.


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