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A controversial tweet by Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit, that poked fun at the death of George Floyd has caused several high-profile sponsors, athletes, and gyms to cut ties with the fitness empire.
Floyd was a Black man who died at the hands of a White Minneapolis police officer, who has since been charged with second-degree murder. His death on May 25 inspired weeks of protests and demonstrations across the country and internationally calling for justice and protesting police brutality against Black people.
On June 6, The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation tweeted about the health issues associated with racism along with a photo that stated “Racism is a Public Health Issue.”
Glassman replied, “It’s FLOYD-19,” combining Floyd’s name with Covid-19, the scientific term for the coronavirus pandemic.
— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 6, 2020
The post was met with immediate disgust from CrossFitters, sports companies, and more. Reebok, the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games, told Business Insider it would end its association with CrossFit after its contractual obligations ended this year.
“Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” the footwear company told the website. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
Gyms that have paid licensing fees to use the CrossFit name also said they would be cutting ties.
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Fitness should unify, not divide us. Invictus Fitness was founded on core values of inclusivity and respect. For nearly 12 years we’ve been a CrossFit affiliate because we believe in the immense power of using fitness to unify a community around health and happiness. Our training methods at Invictus Fitness constantly evolved, but we remained faithful to our affiliation with CrossFit because of the community. The recent actions of CrossFit’s CEO are antithetical to our core values and mission of creating a strong, unified community. At a time when our communities crave leadership and kindness, he chose inflammatory and politically charged comments that have had the effect of dividing rather than unifying. As much as we love and respect many of the people who work at CrossFit HQ, we will no longer affiliate with an organization that doesn’t respect their position of influence. After nearly 12 years as an affiliate, we will begin the process of moving forward solely as Invictus Fitness but will be as committed as ever to this fitness community.
And several high-profile CrossFitters expressed their disgust with Glassman’s statement.
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I wanted to start by saying that I am incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated with the actions and words of Crossfit HQ and in particular Greg Glassman. I’m deeply apologetic from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have had to witness this ignorance and the pain it causes. A lack of acknowledgement and empathy for those who are fighting for basic human rights and equality is simply inexcusable and it’s behaviour that we cannot stand for. It has made both Shane and I incredibly ashamed to be a part of an organisation that we have dedicated so much of ourselves to. If it has us angered and disappointed like we are, we couldn’t even begin to imagine how these words and actions affect the extremely diverse global community of crossfitters and supporters who have all dedicated so much time, money and passion to the sport. But this is much bigger than the sport. For those who continue to be dismissive of inequality, you must understand that this is a truly GLOBAL issue and we NO longer can sit idle and do or say nothing. It’s on ALL of us to keep fighting the cause globally until systemic racism and the inhumane treatment of black communities around the globe no longer exists. I said earlier that this issue is much bigger than sport, yet sport and the functional fitness space has a really important part to play. Sport and fitness bring us together and unite us in such a powerful and profound way. I want my platform to drive positivity, unity and the overall message that no matter your skin colour or cultural background, we should all inspire one another to be the best versions of themselves. I want my platform to reflect the values and beliefs of the community I feel most comfortable in, a community that raises up those around them and gives everybody their own individual opportunity to be a champion. My future with Crossfit is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ. I will continue to stand against ignorance and stand alongside those who fight abuse, hatred and racism.
Even Rich Froning, four-time winner of the CrossFit Games and one of the brand’s greatest ambassadors, said he cannot stand by these comments and is evaluating his next steps.
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I’m not really sure how to start this. Loyalty is and always has been one of the values I hold strong to and have been anchored in throughout my life. My personal definition of loyalty takes into account and considers imperfection, making mistakes, asking forgiveness, and even showing grace to others who can never seem to get it right. However, my definition of loyalty does have firm boundaries. CrossFit has been something I’ve felt loyalty towards over the past 10 years. While I’ve struggled with some decisions made by CFHQ over the last couple of years and what I’ve felt like have personally alienated some of the people who sacrificed and helped grow its brand. That is nothing compared to what has happened the last couple of days and has made it impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed. When I really sit and reflect it hasn’t been CFHQ that I have been loyal to, but the community that supports inclusivity, fitness for all, and health. We will continue to be a part of that community but can no longer be loyal to someone or something that is so far from my own values. While I’m considering what our next steps are we cannot and will not stand with these comments or beliefs.
Glassman, on his personal Twitter account, originally doubled down on his remark.
Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd's brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is "accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots." Thanks!
— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 7, 2020
Later, on CrossFit’s official Twitter, he apologized for the remark and said it was a “mistake” and was not intended to be racist.
.@CrossFitCEO: "I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday.
My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
What could this mean for the future of an organization that once found itself at the pinnacle of the fitness industry? Only time will tell.