Reebok announces it will end partnership with CrossFit after CEO's insensitive George Floyd tweet

Jack Baer
Writer

A single tweet from the founder and CEO of CrossFit has prompted Reebok to announce it will end its relationship with the fitness network by the end of the year. Greg Glassman, who founded the business with his wife in 2000, has since apologized.

The tweet in question came in response to a statement from the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The statement called racism a public health issue. Glassman replied with a joke about COVID-19, which the IHM has covered since March. Specifically, he called it “FLOYD-19.”

Glassman followed that up the next day by criticizing the IHM’s advocacy for quarantines and lamenting national riots.

A tweet equating a response to systemic racism and police brutality to a global pandemic was bound to draw backlash, and that eventually included one of CrossFit’s biggest corporate partners.

Reebok announced to Footwear News on Sunday that it has ended discussions about extending its partnership with CrossFit and will allow its relationship to come to an end this year:

“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,” Reebok said in a statement emailed to FN. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”

The statement continued, “What doesn’t change is our commitment and dedication to CrossFitters and the passionate CrossFit community. We’re so thankful for the strong bonds we’ve created with coaches, box owners and athletes around the world over the past 10 years. We want to especially thank Dave Castro, Nicole Carroll, Andy Stumpf, Steve Weiss and Jimi Letchford, who were instrumental in ensuring Reebok was welcomed by the community, so that we could do our part to help more people improve their lives through fitness.”

Reebok wasn’t alone in severing ties with CrossFit, as a number of gyms — which pay Glassman’s company for licensing rights — also questioned the tweet or said they would sever ties with CrossFit.

One CrossFit gym announced it would cease its partnership and posted Glassman’s reply to an email it had sent questioning his response to the pandemic and protests around Floyd’s death. In an unhinged reply, Glassman questioned the writer’s mental health, called her attitude “disgusting” and deemed her “evil” and “a really s---- person.”

Glassman later released a statement via the @CrossFit Twitter account, saying his choice of words was “not racist but a mistake” and calling for racial justice.

This isn’t the first time that a tweet from a CrossFit executive has triggered a backlash, as the company once fired its chief knowledge officer Russell Berger after he called celebrating LGBTQ pride a “sin.” Shortly before Berger’s firing, Glassman was quoted as saying “He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f--- up' and hide out for awhile. It’s sad.”

Reebok won't be working with CrossFit after 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

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