With such a rapid growth of the Annual Arnold Classic event, one must question where it will be in the next 5 years. With talks of mythic proportions, Columbus, Ohio has been dubbed as the site that will be hosting Arnold events that will eventually be much more similar to that of the Olympics. The Arnold Classic now hitting the decade mark has evolved. What was at one time a simple set-up of body-builders and aspiring figure athletes standing oiled up on stage has now developed into a multi-million dollar business with a multi faceted structure of alternative sports that athletes have the opportunity to compete in.
With everything from Cheerleading and Gymnastics to table tennis and mixed martial arts, one has to question whether bodybuilding can survive the main-stream efforts to grow the Arnold Classic to such a scale and maintain the Bodybuilding that is realistically such a miniature subculture.
Bodybuilding, being denied of Official Olympic acknowledgement has been around for centuries. The denial is due to scare of the extensive drug use and the Olympic committees questioning the validity of the sport with its subjective judging structure. To make things even harder on the sport, most officials, organizations and committees that could help grow the sport are turning their back at it due to its political conundrums and lack of marketable value. Supplement companies that pour vast amounts of resources into the weekend are also rapidly stepping away from their involvement in bodybuilding. With the billion dollar WWE franchise and the UFC super surge, the health and sport supplement industries are looking into other avenues of sport marketing and endorsement. The web being built between supplement companies and alternative desirable physiques from other sports is only getting stronger and more widespread. Dollars have also shifted towards Football players, Tri-athletes and even celebrities.
“Sponsors no longer have any interest in the sport and won’t touch it” Says an anonymous CEO and Owner of an immensely popular supplement brand. “It is sad because many of us that currently own and operate supplement companies were introduced to the industry through the sport of bodybuilding. Now we look at the sport as a stepping stone for personal growth and development but see that it will never enhance our brand image or product awareness”.
Although bodybuilding will never completely die, without the Arnold, where would the sport go? With Arnold himself being governor and having to keep things positive and on point with his now mainstream image, Arnold and Jim Lorimer are determined to maintain the integrity of the Arnold weekend. Only time will tell I guess as this years Arnold look to truly be a Classic. With all of the bells and whistles, fun and excitement I expect to see a good show all around including all of the competitions. The bodybuilding will continue on in the upcoming years, but the question must be asked… For how long?
- Jason Dhir
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