A number of people, mainly sponsors and potential sponsors, have asked me how many Firefighter Throwdowns have been staged before this one coming up in San Diego. They’re surprised to learn that this is the flagship event given the stature and commitment of our sponsors which includes Reebok, Elkhart Brass, ROGUE, Starkist, Bodybuilding.com, Quest Nutrition, South Coast Fire and Firehouse. Generally speaking, some of these sponsors simply do not sponsor first time events since they are involved in the larger and more established athletic venues nationally and those sponsorships are expensive and labor intensive.
I’ve been surprised by some of the less obvious aspects of the Firefighter Throwdown, some no one would know unless they were the organizer of the event. Keep in mind, I am relatively new to the fire industry in regards to anything other than working with clients to market and sell their products, for example, preparing them for tradeshows, equipping their sales people, helping strategize on marketing direction, branding, etc. So full immersion into the fire industry and spending real time with career and volunteer firefighters is all new and a true learning experience. Asking questions then sitting back and listening to detailed answers from firefighters has been eye opening and intriguing. I already had a tremendous amount of respect, but this last year, learning about the hardships of the industry, the cut backs, the job struggles, not to mention the heavy losses to fellow firefighters is a total reality check. One can quickly see where the spirit of athletic dedication, brotherhood and personal drive comes from after only a few hours of conversation.
The idea of the Throwdown evolved from spending two years attending multiple CrossFit Regional Competitions and the LA Games with a couple of our clients who target athletes. It wasn’t glamorous work slogging samples behind the counter of a tradeshow booth, but every time I was immersed in the CrossFit culture for three to five days at a clip, I came away feeling revitalized with a fresh take on this thing called the human race. At the core, I was meeting caring, competitive, friendly, helpful, cordial, funny people time after time after time…then I realized how many of these folks were firefighters. It was uncanny and call me perceptive, but probably not by coincidence.
Every competition I attended, I would meet individual and sometimes groups of firefighters. Men and women who stopped to talk, had a kind word, a good story, or a smart remark, or were in the mood for a cold beer… and all were ripped (keep in mind this was at an athletic event), some with tattoos that had stories behind the design, firefighter t-shirts, department jackets, but overall, I kept noticing an unspoken sense of togetherness and commitment to a relatively new sport. The athletes were not there to compete for the money, or the celebrity, but for the sheer challenge of winning. And the attitude was aggressive but not offensive. No one was reveling in the failure of another, instead, the attitude to be the best you could be prevailed and people helped each other to get there. This is much different than other sports where the overriding theme seems to support a culture of having to kill the other team in order to win. You don’t win for long if all your opponents end up dead right?
The Firefighter Throwdown was created to provide a stage to showcase this level of commitment and healthy competition. Any competition prior showcased the athletes, who happen to include firefighters, but nowhere had I seen a competition where the firefighters owned it and used only their physical strength to win. There’s no equipment to carry, no bunkers or props; just firefighters pitted against other firefighters to compare physical endurance and strength, then let the chips fall.