Improving the IFBB Fan Experience


by Cade Thomas

Bodybuilding can be a very boring sport to follow. Not only are the contests few and far between, the big name guys only compete once or twice a year. Imagine if your favorite NFL team had two games the entire season; It means you spend a whole lot more time gossipping about the players and creating unnecessary drama.

In our sport we don’t have teams; This means that there are no trades or shocking releases to speak of. Well, actually that is what you would THINK it meant. In actuality, bodybuilding fans have decided that supplement and magazine companies are essentially the closest thing we have to teams and we tend to treat athletes changing which supplement company they endorse the same way a hockey fan would treat his favorite goalie leaving his hometown club.

The strange part, and ultimately differentiating factor is that which company happens to have a bodybuilder signed to a deal has ultimately zero bearing on their competitive life whatsoever. The only time it could make a large difference is if the athlete was previously on a low dollar deal and now is receiving some serious income to represent a new brand; This can make a dramatic difference in their stage results due to *cough* more longevity supplements.

Other than that, why do we care? Are we trying to treat bodybuilding like a mainstream sport in any way possible, utterly desperate to draw parallels to more common sports as a means to identify with the less welcoming world of extreme physiques?

One way I think we could actually accomplish that would be to implement a more prevalent point system that applies to the entire IFBB and not just for awarding five non-show winning bodybuilders places at the Olympia. It would require a better schedule, as right now the spacing and balance of the shows is rather absurd. I believe it would make the entire sport more followable if there were a few different tiers of shows (there sort of already is), and they were scheduled accordingly like a normal sports schedule. As an example, every 4 weeks could be a third tier show, every 12 weeks could be a second tier show, and every 26 weeks could be a first tier show. While this of course complicates things when it comes to international tours and Grand Prix events, this is just a basic concept that could be used and tweaked to make sense in a practical application.

Every position gets awarded a set of points based on where they place and in what tier the show is. This would add scoreboards and statistics that fans could follow all year long (except if there is a 2-3 month true “off-season”) and use to trash talk other fans. As of right now, the closest thing we have to mark progress is Instagram selfies and leaked coach progress photos.

Obviously we are desperate to link bodybuilding to the mainstream sports world, and although I don’t think (or honestly, want) bodybuilding to reach peak mainstream status, I feel we could build a better way for fans to be able to follow and interact more like true sports fans than social media stalkers and forum trolls.