I was privileged to serve as head judge for the United States Strengthlifting Federation national competition yesterday, sponsored by Barbell Logic. Fifty lifters from all over the USA came to compete in the squat, press, deadlift, and bench press.
There is not a lot of money in powerlifting. The NFL, NBA, and MLB suck up most of the athletic interest in this country. Nobody really cares about the strength sports. This, however, is good news. It means that the sports maintains its purity as a display of strength. If you ever want to see pure joy, go to a meet and watch someone set a PR (personal record) in front of a crowd. We all cheer for each other.
My job was to make sure that the barbell was loaded correctly and that the lifters actually lifted according to the rules. If somebody beats me at the squat, I will cheer, but I want to be sure that he squatted to depth. Having the same rules for everyone ensures that the accomplishments are real, and that the joy is authentic. Joy is what happens when you attain some good. If the judging is sloppy, you aren’t sure that you’ve actually attained the good. When my friend Hari pressed 300+ lbs over his head, I want him to know that he actually did it.
It’s good for people to engage in athletic competition. It helps give shape to your training, gives you something to look forward to, and lets other people see the glory of which humans are capable. We are embodied creatures, and bodies shouldn’t be neglected. Train yours for a competition! It will be difficult for you to play football or find 17 friends to make baseball teams, but you can certainly lift heavy things and sign up for a meet. The USSF has online and in-person meets, so the bar for entry is low. Think about it. We’d love to have you join us.