CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman has sparked outrage and lost a partnership deal with Reebok after an ill-received tweet about George Floyd’s death.
Glassman has since apologized for the tweet, but the comment has caused many of the workout's devotees to speak out against the CEO and at least one gym to announce plans to disaffiliate with the fitness giant.
The controversy began Saturday when Glassman replied to a post from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that said “Racism is a public health issue.”
Glassman replied “It’s FLOYD-19,” referencing the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The comment quickly sparked outrage across social media, with Reebok announcing soon after that it planned to end its exclusive 10-year partnership deal as the main sponsor and licensee of CrossFit apparel, Forbes reports.
“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later 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 company said in a statement.
Athlete Rich Froning, who has won the CrossFit Games four times, announced on Instagram that he is considering his next steps after deciding he could no longer be loyal to a brand that did not embrace inclusivity.
“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,” he wrote.
The comment even prompted one Seattle gym owner to announce plans to disaffiliate with the company. Alyssa Royse, the owner of CrossFit affiliate gym Rocket CrossFit, announced her decision in a blog post on her website alongside a profanity laced letter allegedly written to her by Glassman.
In the letter, Glassman tears into Royse calling her a “really shitty” person and accusing her of trying to brand CrossFit as “racist.”
Royse wrote that the gym planned to rebrand as Rocket Community Fitness because the gym “cannot stand on the wrong side of history, even if we lose friends because of it. BLACK LIVES F---ING MATTER.”
Glassman took to Twitter again on Sunday to apologize for his remarks about Floyd’s death.
“I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism,” he wrote. “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.”
He went on to call Floyd a “hero” and said his comment was directed at his frustration over the lockdown.
“Floyd is a hero in the black community and not just a victim. I should have been sensitive to that and wasn’t. I apologize for that. I was trying to stick it to the @IHME UW for their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown,” he wrote.
Glassman said he got “angry and overly emotional” after seeing the organization was announcing a solution to the racial crisis.
“Involving George Floyd’s name in that effort was wrong,” he said.
CrossFit is practiced by an estimated 4 million people in more than 13,000 affiliated gyms across the world, according to NBC News.
Glassman’s ex-wife and CrossFit cofounder Lauren Jenai made headlines earlier this year after announcing her plans to marry Franklin Tyrone Tucker, a man awaiting trial for murder.
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