CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman Retires After Tweet Is Condemned As ‘Racist’ & Reebok Cuts Ties
CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman apologized for a controversial tweet Sunday, as Reebok and affilliate gyms cut ties with his brand. By Tuesday, Glassman announced his early retirement.
Glassman tweeted a response to the Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation, which had put out a statement addressing racism as a public health crisis.
“It’s FLOYD-19,” wrote Glassman. He went on to write that the institute failed at modeling the coronavirus, and criticized their model as a “solution to racism.”
— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 6, 2020
His tweet caused public outrage, and led Reebok to put out a statement saying that they will end their partnership with Crossfit HQ when their deal is up at the end of the year. Reebok has been CrossFit’s exclusive apparel sponsor since 2010.
“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 to Footwear News. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
Hundreds of affiliate gyms have announced that they will be re-branding following Glassman’s comments. For example, Rocket CrossFit in Seattle has said it will be renamed Rocket Community Fitness in a statement on their website.
“You are going to lose a lot of affiliates this year. Many will be lost to financial hardship and closure as a result of a global pandemic. Many will also be lost to simply not seeing value in paying HQ for “services” that are cloaked in ambiguity and a relationship that feels one-sided due to absence of communication. And many will be lost to CrossFit’s failure to take a stand in a time of moral crisis in the US,” Rocket Community Fitness wrote. “You are likely losing Rocket to that last thing.”
Many athletes from the CrossFit Games also condemned Glassman’s tweet, and said that they may not return to compete.
“While I’m considering what our next steps are we cannot and will not stand with these comments or beliefs,” said Rich Froning, a four-time CrossFit Games winner, in an Instagram post.
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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.
“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,” wrote Tia-Clair Toomey in an Instagram post. She’s a three-time CrossFit Games winner. “My future with Crossfit is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ,” she said at the end of the post.
Glassman apologized for his comment in a series of tweets, but maintained that it was “not racist.”
“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,” he wrote.
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,
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
By Tuesday, Glassman announced he would retire in statement on the company’s website. “I’m stepping down as CEO of CrossFit, Inc., and I have decided to retire,” he said. “On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members. Since I founded CrossFit 20 years ago, it has become the world’s largest network of gyms. All are aligned in offering an elegant solution to the vexing problem of chronic disease. Creating CrossFit and supporting its affiliates and legions of professional trainers has been a labor of love. Those who know me know that my sole issue is the chronic disease epidemic. I know that CrossFit is the solution to this epidemic and that CrossFit HQ and its staff serve as the stewards of CrossFit affiliates worldwide. I cannot let my behavior stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions. They are too important to jeopardize.”