Athletes, gyms and CrossFit's biggest corporate partners are all ending their affiliations with the brand after founder and CEO Greg Glassman tweeted an insensitive remark about George Floyd and the current Black Lives Matter protests happening around the world.
The tweet was sent by Glassman in response to a message posted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which called racism and discrimination “critical public health issues that demand an urgent response.” Glassman replied to that tweet with “It’s FLOYD-19,” obviously referencing the recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by four Minneapolis police officers.
Later on, Glassman attempted to clarify his tweet with the message: "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!”
But the damage had already been done. First, the CrossFit Games title sponsor, Reebok, announced it would be ending its partnership with the brand. In a statement to Footwear News, Reebok said, “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. We will fulfil our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.” The Games equipment partner, Rogue, also put out a statement saying that its future involvement with CrossFit was dependent on "the direction and leadership within CrossFit HQ".
Competitors and affiliate CrossFit gyms have also gone public with their displeasure, with athletes like Noah Olsen, Chandler Smith and Kristi Eramo O’Connell announcing via Instagram that their participation at the 2020 CrossFit Games was dependent on "major changes being made in the leadership of CrossFit".
In the UK, gyms affiliated with CrossFit are also beginning to end their relationship with the brand. Reebok CrossFit Thames, for example, said that instead of paying to affiliate with CrossFit HQ it will in future be donating its annual fee to "initiates dedicated to empowering black communities, " while CrossFit Royal Docks said that it would be ending its affiliation because, "it has become clear that the values held dear by the Royal Docks community are not currently reflected by CrossFit HQ."
The number of disaffiliations around the world is now well into the hundreds, and Glassman has been forced to offer a more meaningful apology. On CrossFit's official Twitter page he wrote: "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.
"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, and when I saw they were announcing modelling a solution to our racial crisis, I was incredulous, angry, and overly emotional. Involving George Floyd's name in that effort was wrong.
"It’s our hope that his murder catalyses real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters. Please hear me when I say, we stand by our community to fight for justice. I care about you, our community, and I am here for you."
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