Could Athleticon Stomp Out the Arnold Classic in 2021?


by Matt Weik

2020 has been the year that caused many bodybuilders to pull their hair out. I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than prepping for months to get ready for a show, only to find out the show has been canceled a week or two before jumping on stage. Well, that’s the world we currently live in, and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. No show has felt the effects of 2020 more than the Arnold Classic, and 2021 could be another black eye at the hands of Athleticon.

Now, I’m not here to say that any IFBB show is out to hurt another one, but as of December 2020, people are still pissed off about what took place at the 2020 Arnold Classic. To put it politely, it was a total clusterf*ck. People lost a lot of money, and the way it all went down was absolutely unacceptable.

Fans, sponsors, and vendors all had some choice words to say when describing what took place in Columbus, and many of them to this day mention they will never again support the Arnold Classic. So, where exactly does that put Athleticon in 2021? I’m actually going to say ahead of the Arnold. (gasp)

Athleticon 2021 Is Going to Bring It

I’m known for making some bold predictions, and this one even has me thinking that I may have gone mad. I believe that many fans, vendors, and sponsors will sit out of the 2021 Arnold Classic and put their money into attending Athleticon. Now, the actual bodybuilding show is called the Icon World Classic (I like the Athleticon name much better). But, for the sake of this article, I’m calling everything Athleticon.

For starters, no one wants to go to Columbus when it’s cold out. It’s the biggest gripe you hear from everyone. If it’s not snowing the weekend of the Arnold, it’s at least cold enough to have you regret your “vacation” to the Arnold.

At least Athleticon is later on in the year (October 9-10) and in Atlanta (where it’s at least warmer than Columbus would be in March).

I still feel that no matter what, the Arnold will draw a crowd as well as have a bunch of competitors for the sports festival, but Athleticon is also introducing some really cool events that I feel will bring out way more people.

Athletics

From an athletic standpoint, you have the Icon World Classic that I already mentioned as well as the NPC Worldwide International Championships. Then you have some high energy dance and cardio events people can partake in. They will be doing live fitness classes taught by world-renowned fitness instructors. Lastly, under their athletics (at least from what they tell us on their website) is a slam n’ jam 3-on-3 basketball tournament (which I think is really frickin’ cool to hold at Athleticon).

Wellness

Athleticon will also have some wellness events and classes that deal mostly with yoga, sleep, mediation, and similar, held by professionals in their respective fields. They want to have a little something for everyone, and those who don’t actively engage in workouts or training may be interested in finding ways to still improve their health, flexibility, and strength through other means.

Entertainment

When you think of entertainment, it’s hard not to think about Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson. I mean, do you really think “The Rock” is going to show up to a boring event, let alone his own? His name is on the line here. If this tanks after all of the hype put out, there won’t be another Athleticon. However, I’m fairly confident that Athleticon could be the biggest event of 2021 – even bigger than the Olympia from a total fan experience and attendance point of view.

Now, before everyone calls for my head, the Olympia is the Super Bowl of the sport. There is no show more significant than the Olympia in terms of prestige and what everyone wants to win. And Dan Solomon has done a killer job getting the Olympia production and overall experience on point. But being that Athleticon was hyped and then canceled in 2020, if things are held in 2021, I can see Athleticon being the more attended show in all of 2021.

The website claims that Athleticon will hold a “lineup of visionary speakers and show-stopping performances.” Let’s be real for a minute, Dwayne and Dany have some pretty famous friends, and with one phone call, I’m certain they can convince all of their friends to show up in Atlanta.

Back to what exactly we can expect from the entertainment portion of Athleticon, there will be a UFC Fan Experience, which they claim will allow fans a greater opportunity to get even closer with the UFC brand. There will be an Athleticonference where big-name speakers and thought leaders will present in front of an audience and bless everyone with their knowledge.

Then there is the festival. The website claims that there will be live performances and celebrity appearances. I could be totally off here, but I’m envisioning a massive list of big-name artists coming through to put on live performances and celebrities walking around taking pictures and shaking hands.

This all sounds nice, right? Obviously, this can all only be made possible if this pandemic decides to wave goodbye, and we can all actually see each other’s faces again in person. Fingers crossed!

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