Warning: major spoilers ahead for the Season 13 finale of American Ninja Warrior on NBC.
Season 13 of American Ninja Warrior was thrilling in a way that no season had ever been before thanks to a new rule that allows contestants as young as 15 to try and conquer the courses. While there was no saying how well it would work to allow a crop of high schoolers into ANW to go up against veterans of the show who have actually finished puberty, the kids managed to defeat a lot of the older athletes, and it was 15-year-old Kaden Lebsack who ultimate won Season 13. So, should the new rule stay or go?
Kaden Lebsack was a dominant force in conquering obstacles throughout American Ninja Warrior Season 13, which wasn't too shocking based on his success on American Ninja Warrior Junior, but he was also very fast. He even completed Stage 3 of the Finals, and only came up short in Stage 4. He won't be taking home $1 million, but he does get $100,000 for beating the rest of the ninjas.
And Kaden Lebsack wasn't the only teen who finished Stage 2, which is saying something considering only four competitors total made it to Stage 3. 16-year-old Vance Walker was also a contender for the top prize and did pretty well, especially considering he faced the challenge of going first while the other three could watch him and learn from what he did right and, more importantly, what he did wrong. Lebsack and Walker weren't alone as teens in making it quite far on ANW, as seven of the final twenty competitors were under the age of 18.
It seems that instead of their youth working against them, the younger competitors have an edge that lets them get amazingly far. Sure, seven out of twenty isn't even quite half, but the numbers are very impressive. After all, the vast majority of competitors were adults who would have been old enough even without the rule change to allow kids to compete. So, is it fair to keep the teens as part of American Ninja Warrior?
Well, the adults who had their eyes on the top prize might wish that the rule hadn't changed to bring in Kaden Lebsack and the other younger competitors, and it certainly changed the viewing experience from the American Ninja Warrior that viewers knew and loved from earlier seasons. Is that a bad thing, though? Lebsack's win in Season 13 on top of all the other teens crushing the courses might light a fire under some of the veterans to up their game, or at least get more creative in their training.
Plus, it's harder to predict who will make it to the end of a course and who won't, which can make the competition more interesting to viewers. And changing the rule back would indicate that bringing in teens was a mistake, and how could it really be a mistake when the young athletes proved that they can hold their own against the adults? I'm guessing that the new rule is here to stay, and I'm okay with that.
But are you? Weigh in our poll below about whether American Ninja Warrior should continue allowing competitors as young as 15, and be sure to check out our 2021 fall TV premiere schedule for some viewing options now that ANW is finished for the season.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).