I am firmly convinced that I have the best job in the world. My task is to celebrate American Ninja Warrior and do everything I can to foster the amazing community around it.
This requires that I spend a lot of time on social media. Which I don’t mind at all. I enjoy it. It’s been part of my career for a long time. I’m not surprised by negative comments. They’re par for the course. Standard operating procedure.
Each week when a new episode premieres, I tuck in and spend the evening online talking with fans. It’s delightful. I’m genuinely in awe at the heartfelt responses shared by the community and the hilarious commentary they come up with. But I need to take a minute to vent. Something keeps happening that I find really upsetting.
This is about Kacy Catanzaro and the one segment of American Ninja Warrior watchers who feel the need to drag down her accomplishments. Let me explain.
Their online complaints via Tweets and Facebook comments seem to break into two camps.
- That NBC should stop using her in promotion of the show.
- That she’s not as talented as she’s hyped up to be.
I take severe umbrage to both these statements.
We’ll start by exploring these arguments from a merely industrial and marketing angle.
In any sport, you NEVER dismiss your pioneers.
Let’s breakdown Kacy’s accomplishments, shall we?
- First woman to complete the Warped Wall in competition
- First woman to complete a City Qualifying course
- First woman to complete a City Finals course
- First woman to qualify for the Las Vegas Finals
NBC would be remise not to use her in promotion of the show. In all the clips I’ve seen this season, images of Kacy are used in context of the accomplishments of female athletes this season. Jessie Graff, Meagan Martin, Michelle Warnky, Natalie Duran, Jesse Labreck, Rachael Goldstein, Allyssa Beird. It’s a DARN good year for female Ninjas.
The still images I’ve seen used portray Kacy as a strong competitor in the sport, placing emphasis that she’s running the course again this season. That’s just good marketing.
Please review the list of Kacy’s accomplishments I posted above. See all those “Firsts”? That would be why they use her image in this context. How can they tell the story of the ascent of Ninja Warrior women without acknowledging its foundation?
We are lucky enough to be enjoying the rise of this sport while it’s still in its infancy. How can you leave out a name like Kacy’s in the conversation when she broke the mold less than 5 years ago?
She’ll soon be joined by many other names. We’ll get familiar with many other female faces. That is awesome. That is not a reason to discredit the woman who helped bring the sport to a larger audience.
Now, on to the argument that she’s not as physically talented as she’s hyped up to be. This just makes me kind of giggle. Okay, again, go look at that list of accomplishments. Now, go check out her Instagram feed. Here’s the link.
Heck, I’ll make it even easier for you.
If you ever want to question Kacy’s physical abilities, and American Ninja Warrior just isn’t convincing you, check out her runs on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull. I’ve been watching Kacy compete for years and I was blown away by how much she had to give.
She gets to return year after year because she is STRONG AS HELL. In any sport, players have off-games. Except in American Ninja Warrior you only get ONE off-game a year. We get to see a VERY small snippet of Kacy’s physical work each season. We don’t see the work that’s bringing her back year after year.
Now let’s talk about some human reasons to avoid speaking negatively of Kacy.
First off, American Ninja Warrior Nation is a fan site. So I can be very open about the fact that I’m biased. I am cheering for and supporting every single Ninja. Past, present, future, whether they made the show or not, whether they fell on the first obstacle or went all the way. So anything negative in any way towards a Ninja really gets my goat.
This is a community. It’s why we all love watching the show. It wouldn’t be American Ninja Warrior without the emotional back stories, the friends, family and other Ninjas cheering for each other on the side lines.
Our beloved competitors wouldn’t be back year after year if they weren’t supported and motivated year round by their training partners. New Ninjas wouldn’t grab our hearts if they hadn’t been inspired by watching the accomplishments of those who went before them.
Accomplishments of Ninjas like Kacy.
Now let’s take a look at a smattering of her accomplishments OFF the show:
- Towson University Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year
- Towson University Golden Paw Leadership Award
- Towson University Female Athlete of the Year
- ECAC Division 1 Gymnast of the Year
- NCAA Southeast Regional Gymnast of the year
Oh wait, that’s right, she’s a PERSON! An extremely talented and dedicated person.
She’s an athlete who has devoted her life to excelling in her chosen sports. She’s the managing partner of the well-known gym Alpha Warrior. She traveled to every Ninja Warrior city she could this season to support her fellow Ninjas, whether she was competing or not.
Why would anyone want to knock her down for that?
Can you imagine what the pressure must feel like? Being the first at anything? Being a role model? Kacy has visibly shown her disappointment in herself in the past when she hasn’t done as well as she wanted on the course.
Do you really think Kacy isn’t aware that everyone is judging her? Why would we, the Ninja community, want to have any part in that? It goes against the very fiber of why we’ve all banded together to make this thing great.
I can only speak for myself. But I want to clearly state that I was, am, and will always be a fan of Kacy Catanzaro.
I’m also a huge fan of all the women currently out there kicking butt. The next “Firsts” are rising. Jessie Graff on the City Finals course. Meagan Martin completing a Qualifying triplet. It’s a great time to be a female Ninja and Kacy led the way.
I hope they bring her back year after year. I hope they get her a throne near Matt and Akbar’s tower.