Dennis James shares his thoughts on the future of Men’s Open bodybuilding in the wake of so many new and growing divisions.
When it comes to excitement, Men’s Open bodybuilding is still king in terms of popularity. It’s always the featured event, it always has the highest prize money, and it always gets the most talk from fans. But with so many new divisions offering athletes different kinds of physique goals – will we see a shrinking of the talent pool of athletes interested in Men’s Open? In our latest GI Exclusive, Dennis James breaks down his analysis of athlete interest in Men’s Open in the coming years.
Whenever a new division enters the IFBB arena, there are those that speculate if it could become the new most popular category. Nothing has ever toppled the Men’s Open division. It may be true that there is too much history and “freak factor” excitement to ever topple Men’s Open for fans. But the bigger question is not about fan interest but athlete interest. With so many divisions to choose from – will we simply have less Men’s Open bodybuilders competing?
We asked this to Dennis James in our video conversation from 2020. James is a former pro bodybuilder and current coach and commentator for the sport. Due to this he has his ear to the ground regarding upcoming talent in bodybuilding. That’s why we asked him what his thoughts were for the future of Men’s Open – from an athlete roster perspective.
At this moment in time, Dennis James is not concerned with Men’s Open bodybuilding dwindling in the future. In fact, he thinks that the recent negative criticism Men’s Open has been getting will be fuel for a new generation to prove themselves. So perhaps we’ll actually have an influx of more, or at least perhaps hungrier, athletes competing in the Men’s Open division.
Dennis James may very well be correct about that assessment. He also notes that Men’s Open has always been the most challenging category to compete in – and it never stopped athletes before. The difference now, of course, is there are a wider number of options available. That mixed with an increased focus on health with each passing generation – could the Men’s Open one day (much further down the line) dwindle similar to Women’s Open? Not from lack of fan interest but simply lack of athletes who wouldn’t rather do a different division.
For now it’s impossible to say. It’s already confirmed that some divisions have many more athletes than Men’s Open. Men’s Physique or Bikini, for example, have an extremely large pool of athletes year after year. Men’s Open is comparatively smaller – but it never needed to be 100 pros strong. The problem would be if it dips to such a low point that there aren’t enough competitors on the stage. At this point in time that’s not the case – but what will the sport look like in 30 more years?
You can watch Dennis James go into full detail about his predictions for Men’s Open in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!