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Passionate About Fort Worth
and the Moms Who Live Here

An Open Letter to American Ninja Warrior

To the Producers, Creators, and Athletes of American Ninja Warrior

I realize most open letters are ones of protest or appeal, but I promise you this is anything but that. This open letter is one of thanks. Deep, heart felt, momma-wants-to-give-you-a-huge-hug, thanks. So please keep reading. 

Raising children these days is hard. Really, really hard. For every good habit we work hard to instill, there seems to be something on TV that teaches them a bad one. For every pep-talk we give about their value and worth, a magazine ad tells them they need to change. For every lesson on good sportsmanship we offer, an athlete throws a temper tantrum on national television for things not going their way. 

When I first turned on American Ninja Warrior last year, I must admit: We were just hoping to be entertained without having to do too much repair work with our kids afterward. Imagine my surprise when the first ninja fell short of his goal, and lept out of the water with a big ol’ grin stretched ear to ear. What a breath of fresh air! 

Except it wasn’t just that one athlete. It is every athlete you give air time to. I am sure you get the rare rotten apple, but you don’t give those folks the time of day. And goodness gracious, thank you for that. 

My kids are learning how to lose well by watching your show. Their little brains see these strong, committed athletes, with their wet hair glued to their faces showcasing their failure, still choosing to be grateful for the experience rather than humiliated by the loss. They see men and women make a mistake or “fail” an obstacle, only to hear them say, “Wow, that was fun! You’ll see me back next year!” No one quits, no one makes up excuses, and no one storms off the course. Is this real life?!

Speaking of men and women: It’s pretty stinkin’ amazing for my daughter to see Jessie Graff complete obstacles most of the men can’t. I’m not a feminist by a long stretch, but I sure as heck love seeing people defy the odds and come out on top. Not only does my daughter get to see that she can do whatever she puts her mind to with the proper work and determination, but my son gets to see his own role models believe in and cheer for the women competitors, as well! Your show is helping these kids not only to believe in themselves, but also recognize that giftedness and athleticism are not gender-specific. 

While we are on the topic of cheering for one another, I would be remiss not to express my gratitude for the admirable sportsmanship that is demonstrated between competitors. Time and time again, it’s the fellow ninjas who are cheering the loudest with each victory and consoling one another after each tough break. Although they are competing against each other for the ultimate title of American Ninja Warrior, they treat each other more like teammates than opponents. If I am being completely honest, they probably treat each other better than most teammates do. My kids are realizing that their biggest rival can still be their best friend, and I imagine this lesson will follow them far beyond their adolescent years. Rumor has it Grant McCartney hopped on a segway after watching his friend Jake Murray take a devastating fall shouting “I’m coming, Jake!!!” That’s friendship if I’ve ever seen it. 

American Ninja Warrior athletes, like Jake Murray, even take the time to love on and coach their littlest fans!

Lastly, I want to thank you for creating a whole new sport for kids like my son. Since he was a baby, we’ve found him climbing whatever he can get his hands and feet on. My friends joke around saying, “If you can’t find Noah, just look up!” Until American Ninja Warrior came around, kids like him had very few ways to channel their strengths in a way that allowed them to compete, achieve, and succeed using their skill set. Now, because of the show’s popularity and subsequent ninja gyms popping up, these monkeys have found their fit. Rather than getting yelled at for scaling a wall, they are applauded for their strength and athleticism. They are encouraged to climb higher and swing further. And then, when their time comes to compete in a youth ninja competition, they get to put to practice all the other lessons you have taught them. 

So, to the producers and creators of American Ninja Warrior, thank you for bringing this show to our living room. Not only have you brought us entertainment and fun, but you have also allowed us a sneak peek into the lives of some amazing, courageous, respectable athletes. You don’t only place value on winning, but you also place extreme value on the journey each athlete experienced getting to where they are. So many lessons wrapped up into two hours every Monday night.

And to the Ninjas, thank you for being you. Thank you for working hard and for prioritizing friendships and camaraderie over the need to be THE best. Little eyes are watching you, and you are stewarding your gifts better than anyone could ask for. One of these days, I hope my little ones grow up to be just like you. 

Sincerely, 
A Mom of Little Ninjas

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13 Responses to An Open Letter to American Ninja Warrior

  1. Avatar
    Matt August 16, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    This was so kind. I’ve competed for three years and helped with the show several others. I couldn’t agree more. You can’t find a more positive crowd to roll with than my ninjas!

    • Krista
      Krista August 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

      Thank you SO much for being such a positive contribution to the sport!

  2. Avatar
    Kathy August 19, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    That is one of the amazing things about American Ninja Warrior. I love how you’ll see various ninjas wearing shirts supporting the Ninja currently running. They are running against each other, the real object is to make themselves better and to beat the course.

  3. Avatar
    Karen Murfield Faircloth August 19, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    I have been a FAN of American Ninja Warrior for YEARS . Now, I can also view the other 2 Shows associated with ANW !! The names of the 2 Shows are : ( RED NOSE ) Celebrity Ninja Warrior and, Mt. Midoriyama Course !! SOOOO, Keep making us PROUD of EVERYTHING associated with ANW !!! Sincerely : Karen Murfield Faircloth from Delaware, Ohio . xoxoxoxXXXXOXOXOOXOXXXX

  4. Avatar
    Sherry Desimone August 19, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    Love the show. Have been watching it since the first show of Season 1. I have grown to love and respect all of the competitors.
    Please keep up the good work. Hope to still be watching the show many years from now. It never gets old.

  5. Avatar
    Erika August 19, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    I think they all do it because they love the sport of it… of course they would all love to run up the wall and hit the buzzer but just being with their friend and having a good time is good for most of them.

    Here is a link a story from when some of the ninjas were in my town last week for a youth camp and then an event on the weekend. It shows their true character…

    https://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/you-guys-are-mentally-strong-american-ninja-warrior-childrens-hospital/

  6. Avatar
    M. August 19, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

    “I’m not a feminist by a long stretch”: I’ll never know why people say this as if they took pride in it.

    • Krista
      Krista August 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

      That definitely is not something I take pride in, nor something I am ashamed of. Its simply my a product of my belief system.

      While I totally understand that the dictionary definition of feminism is something that most women can relate to (me being one of them), I do not feel that is what the cultural representation is, and that is what I am referring to.

      I do believe men and women were created differently, and I believe there are things men are better suited for just as there are things that women are better suited for. HOWEVER, I will always ALWAYS encourage my children to pursue what they personally feel they are designed to do, whether it fits into traditional gender roles or not. I believe I can raise my children to acknowledge and respect traditional and biblical teachings while also pursuing their own unique design and talents. Call that what you will 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Airen August 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    Krista,

    I appreciate your beautifully written open letter to American Ninja Warrior. I couldn’t agree with you more about why you love the show-how friendly of a competition it is, how both women and men get to compete on the same course and show their strengths, and how much of a positive impact this will have on kids, especially your own daughter. I’m not a parent, but I share so many of your sentiments and am passionate about ANW myself.

    There was one thing that struck me though and it’s when you said, “I’m not a feminist by a long stretch.” As a feminist who loves ANW, I was very disappointed to read that, especially from a woman who has a daughter. Making statements like this, unfortunately, only perpetuates the stigma of feminism, which really is about equal opportunity and treatment for all genders. I’m sure you believe that, and want that for your daughter. I’m guessing you don’t want your daughter growing up with less rights and opportunities than men and being treated differently than men just because of her gender, right? I don’t know, maybe you do, but I’m guessing you don’t since you appreciate how ANW doesn’t play into gender stereotypes and allows all genders to compete on the same course. Really, feminism is as simple as that, and I hope you reconsider not wanting to identify as a feminist. I wonder if you think that you will be taken more seriously by saying that you’re not a feminist. Anyway, I did appreciate your letter and also wanted you to know my thoughts as another woman and feminist, and how dangerous it is to society and especially young girls to make it clear that you are not a feminist when feminism advocates for young girls. I hope you hear this with an open mind and if you want to learn more, I’d be more than happy to connect. Either way, I’m always thrilled to hear of more women who love American Ninja Warrior!

    • Krista
      Krista August 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

      Airen, thank you for the sweet note! I absolutely love SO many things about the sport!!

      I think the main confusion is that you are speaking about dictionary-defined feminism, where I am referring to culturally-defined feminism. Unfortunately, they are two different things. When society begins to identify with a certain term, whether or not they truly fit the real definition, a shift occurs.

      I raise both my son and daughter that women and men were designed differently. We inherently have different strengths and different talents. However, I also teach them that they can pursue ANYTHING they put their minds to. I encourage them to not let their gender interfere with or determine their likes, their wishes, their dreams, but allow their personal, God-given design to shine through.

      • Avatar
        Airen August 20, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

        Thank you for your reply and for clarifying that you believe in the essence of feminism even if culture has made it something that it isn’t for you. And I’m happy to hear that you raise your children encouraging them to be themselves and go after their dreams and desires no matter their gender. May you and your family continue to enjoy ANW. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s episode!

  8. Avatar
    Doug Hohulin April 11, 2018 at 10:46 am #

    great post.

    I liked watching American Ninja Warrior because in American Ninja Warrior, even though participants are completing against each other, the athletes realize they are really competing against the course and so they have a shared bond.

    I wrote the following blog quoted from your blog. We Choose this Race: How 5G and AV Can Help Humanity https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/we-choose-race-how-5g-av-can-help-humanity-doug-hohulin/?published=t

    So rather than wars (hot, cold or trade), I want to promote races (like the race to space, 5G and Autonomous Vehicles) – shared races where humanity “stands face to face” with the common goal to promote peace and prosperity for all.

  9. Avatar
    Sara June 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm #

    Best letter ever! When I grew up in the 60s and 70s, if you weren’t the best at sports, it was a reason for the ones who were good to make fun of you. Nobody wanted to share their sport, they wanted to lord it over everyone who wasn’t as good. This iNinja business is the most inclusive, inspirational, welcoming environment I’ve ever seen. Did you see the kid who had been afraid forever to say he was abused, but told the ANW community, because he knew everyone would still love him? We all do still love him. Melted my heart. These athletes are the best role models ever. Whatever flaws thy have, I forgive! Love them. SO COOL that they have opened gyms and are focusing on kids!

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