The fittest people in the world now have their own sport

The National Pro Grid League has created a new kind of competition for the strong and fit, and the first televised season kicks off this month.
(Photo: National Pro Grid League)

On August 19, a new sports rivalry may be introduced, with the New York Rhinos facing off against the Los Angeles Reign. Never heard of those teams?

That’s because they’re part of the National Pro Grid League, an organization that’s created a whole new sport, called “grid.” Debuting this month, the NPGL will pit the world’s fittest people against each other in games that they hope will be just as fun to watch as, say, the World Cup. (Minus the biting.)

NPGL founder and CEO Tony Budding says he was inspired to create the sport after years of working on the CrossFit Games, where he thought there must be a way to present a similar competition that would be more exciting for a sports fan to watch. “We restructured the competition from a participatory test of fitness into a spectator-friendly professional sport that borrows best practices from existing leagues,” he explains.

And while many of the competitors are from the CrossFit world (like Annie Thorisdottir), grid opens up the field to others, like gym owners, elite trainers, and former collegiate athletes. “These athletes are amazing, inspiring examples for the rest of us. They deserve to be able to make a living. We’ve provided that platform for both the athletes and the fans, which in turn creates an opportunity for the networks and sponsors,” Budding says.

The sport itself involves two hour matches that include sprints and heavy lifts on the court, which is literally structured as an eight-block grid. Matches, between co-ed teams from eight major cities, will be played at arenas across the country (like Madison Square Garden and the Patriot Center in D.C.) during the inaugural 2014 season, and the season will be televised by the NBC Sports Group.

“The championship team each year will get to hoist the Pinnacle Trophy, and then their names will be immortalized by being permanently inscribed on the Trophy itself,” Budding explains. Being really fit just keeps getting cooler, right? —Lisa Elaine Held

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