Guest post by Lisa Kohrt
Let me start by saying thank you to Strong Figure for asking me to write this guest blog. When Stephanie first asked me to write for Strong Figure I thought, this will be so cool; I’ve never written a blog before. It was quickly apparent to me when I sat down to write, why I have never written a blog.
While on the six hour drive home, still riding the high from the NPGL Semi-Final matches, I made a list of highlights from both matches, and thoughts on the league and feedback I have heard from fans over the course of the season. After reviewing the six full pages of notes/ideas for the blog, I quickly decided not to write anything too specific about either of the matches as not to ruin it for everyone who may be tuning in to the replay matches Wednesday night. (You are watching them, right?!) I will say this though: Coach Justin Cotler, of the DC Brawlers, threw not one, but three water bottles during the match against the Miami Surge.
The Fans Love Grid
My topic for this guest blog is YOU, the fans. The reasons people love this new sport, GRID, have continued to stand out to me. And what is even more exciting is the quickly growing fan base that does not come from the functional fitness world and in some cases, many new fans are people who don’t work out on a regular basis or didn’t until now.
Let’s start with my husband. He loves football and basketball. He played both sports growing up, including high school. He’s coached both of our boys in football. Those are sports that have been around for decades. When I started telling him about this new sport at the beginning of the year, he just nodded his head like husbands do. Fast forward to August 19th with me talking about GRID and the DC Brawlers on a daily basis. We were on vacation and the first match, the New York Rhinos vs LA Reign was going to be streaming. Like a good husband he watched it with me, but he didn’t necessarily share in my excitement. By the end of the match he showed some definite interest. His attitude was more like “That wasn’t painful. I kind of enjoyed it.”
The next match was four days later and it was my beloved DC Brawlers vs the Phoenix Rise. We set up the match to stream to our TV and invited some friends over to watch. It was a mixed group of functional fitness fans, traditional workout folks and a friend that doesn’t enjoy working out at all. The match ended with everyone on the edge of their seats or standing and cheering on the athletes as if they could actually hear us. For my friends, that this was their first time watching Grid and they were amazed at how quickly the two hours had passed–and disappointed that it was over. The questions and observations were flying.
“When is the next match?”
“When/where can we see the DC Brawlers?”
“That one girl is so tiny but she is really strong.”
“What are those things called again when they pick up the bar and put it on their shoulders?”
“What is the name of the chick that is crazy strong?”
They wanted more. The best part was listening to my husband being a part of the conversation. Even answer some of the questions himself. (For the record he’s completely hooked now and is starting to rattle off stats like an ESPN reporter.)
Fans love Grid because it’s easy to relate to. Most of us have at one point in our lives run, climbed, done a push up, or picked up something heavy. This is the only sport in which males and females compete as equals side by side. It isn’t uncommon for the female athletes to have more fans than the males. The teams are required to have athletes over 40 years old, which not only means longevity in the sport for these athletes, but inspires fans to of the same age to get back into the gym. Grid is a highly competitive and physical sport that doesn’t involve physical contact with the opponent which seems to be a relief to a lot of new fans. The rules are overall simple when compared to football, soccer, hockey or basketball.
The reason to love Grid that I hear overwhelmingly the most, is the athletes themselves. Specifically the DC Brawlers. Yes, I am biased, but just hear me out. The DC Brawlers don’t have (at least they didn’t when they started) any of the really big names from the functional fitness world, or owners with deep pockets like many of the other teams. They are a deeply humble group of athletes and owners. Everyone to whom I have spoken with who has met this team is in awe of how appreciative and supportive the athletes are of the fans. Yes, the athletes and owners support the fans. Many of our athletes have taken an interest in their fans’ interests. And when the league cancelled one of DC’s matches, the Brawlers refunded all the ticket holders and then in a matter of a few days put together a free event for all the fans. This was not your standard meet and greet (which the Brawlers had already done several). Fans had the opportunity to be coached by the athletes on snatches, bar muscle-ups, handstands and double-unders. DC provided all the food and beverages its fans could eat, set up a moon-bounce and a dunk tank with athletes, and even one of the owners, Justin Bizzaro in the hot seat. The team finished off the night with a Bro-lers vs Brawler Babes grid-match.
These team members wants us to be a part of their lives. They want to hear from us, the good and the bad–from merchandise, to ticket prices, to team decisions. These things are rarely heard of in professional sports. If the other teams have owners and athletes anything like the DC Brawlers, newbies and haters alike, mark my words, this league and Grid is here to stay!
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t keep reading if you do not know the DC vs Miami outcome
What are your Predictions?
And after watching San Francisco take on Phoenix, it was clear to me that strategy and preparedness is why San Francisco Fire won in race 11 against the Phoenix Rise. Now that DC is gearing up to take on San Francisco for the championship, fans have got to be wondering, who’s coming out on top? Two smart, strong teams are about to throw down. Who will emerge in this brand new sport as victors?
Let us know in the comments section!
DON’T FORGET TO TUNE IN!
Even though we know who won both matches, you would be definitely missing out if you don’t watch the Brawlers vs. Miami and San Francisco vs. Phoenix. I know my family will definitely be watching them again. Both matches are heated, and both will keep you on your feet. Tune in Wednesday night, October 1st to NBC Sports at 8pm EST to watch Cotler’s Brawlers take on Miami, and the San Fran Fire take on the Phoenix Rise, and then on Friday night at 10:30 to watch the final as the Brawlers take on San Francisco! #BRAWLOUT!