An interesting theme emerges when you look at the ages of the 10 athletes who will be vying for the two titles this weekend at the 2020 CrossFit Games in Aromas, California. While reigning champion Mat Fraser is 30, and women’s champion Tia-Clair Toomey is 27, there is a distinct trend with some of the remaining competitors. On the men’s side there is 24-year-old Samuel Kwant , 21-year-old rookie sensation Justin Medeiros and 26-year-old Jeffrey Adler, who will join Noah Ohlsen, 29, in trying to unseat Fraser. On the women’s side it is a similar story, with 25-year-old Brooke Wells and, of course, 19-year-old Haley Adams. The two will be joined by 31-year-old Kari Pearce and 27-year-old Katrin Davidsdottir. In 2018, CrossFit blog Morning Chalk Up noted the average age of a male competitor at the Games was 27, and for women it was 28. Looking at accumulated data from the previous years, this average age has stayed relatively the same, with some obvious outliers on both sides. But there has also been some notable injuries to younger competitors, such as Kwant and 25-year-old Jonne Konski, who came seventh in the Games’ first leg and just missed out on the final five. Looking at the wider sporting world, there is a distinct trend in virtually all major leagues: youth is starting to trump experience. How CrossFitter Kari Pearce puts her amazing abs to work In the National Basketball Association, a survey of player rosters last year found the average age was 26. Stats nerds online have been compiling data on NBA ages for decades, and found a high water mark somewhere around the 1999-2000 season with an average age of nearly 30. Since then there has been a drop off, and a slight levelling off, but it seems youth is proliferating more and more among the teams. Of the 440 players in the league last season, 418 were younger than 35-year-old LeBron James, who just won the title with the Los Angeles Lakers and was play-off MVP. If we’re comparing the NBA to CrossFit, Fraser would be a good example of an athlete hitting his stride in what could be the eventual twilight of his career. Both James and Fraser are so good at defying Father Time they are pronounced outliers. But hitting your peak at the end of your sporting career is nothing new. When we venture to other leagues, the story is the same. The average age of a National Hockey League player last season before the coronavirus halted the schedule was just over 27. While the average age of an ice hockey player has stayed relatively the same for the past few years, once again we are seeing a proliferation of youngsters starting to move the needle. In the last season only one in 10 NHL players was over the age of 32, which is the lowest number of veterans in the league’s history. The NHL’s average age has been trending downwards as well from a high water mark after its 2004-05 season was cancelled due to a lockout. The league is now led by youngsters such as 23-year-old superstar Conor McDavid, already considered a veteran, but the outlier theme emerges again when you look at teams as a whole. The two squads who made the finals, the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup, are two of the oldest teams when it comes to aggregate ages. Popular analytics blog FiveThirtyEight found a similar trend in the National Football League, that the number of players over 30 has been dropping consistently since the 2007 season. Youngsters such as quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 25, who won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last season, show that youth, even at such a complicated and mentally challenging position like QB, is starting to show. Once again we have our famous outliers throwing shade at the trends and emerging demographics, with 43-year-old Tom Brady finding new life at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Can Katrin Davidsdottir beat Tia-Clair Toomey? What does all this tell us? For one, it is impossible to ignore the trend that athletes across the professional sporting world are getting younger, faster, fitter and experience is counting for less in some respects. But there is no denying that veterans, and veteran leadership when it comes to team sports, are still vital parts of both individual disciplines and teams. Most championship-winning rosters blend older players, such as James, with younger superstars in the making, such as 27-year-old Anthony Davis. When it comes to individual sports like CrossFit, youth is definitely the future. But the game is still controlled by battled-hardened veterans such as Fraser, Toomey and former four-time champion Rich Froning, who at 33 is still a beast when it comes to the team division. Adams trains under the watchful eye of Froning in Cookeville, Tennessee, which has long been ground zero for the sport and a mecca of sorts where athletes go to test their abilities and train with the best. Youth clearly needs experience around it to help it be the best it can be, showcasing that kids do listen, watch and learn. Youngsters are fast making names for themselves in various ways, but with age comes wisdom, grit and the experience it takes to become a champion. Just don’t expect to see as many grey hairs doing box jumps and handstand walks in sports like CrossFit moving forward.