CrossFit founder resigns over tweet backlash
The massive row in the CrossFit world has come to a head, with reports CEO Greg Glassman has been forced to resign after sharing an offensive tweet about George Floyd's death.
CrossFit newsletter Morning Chalk Up is reporting that Mr Glassman has stepped down from the top position, with CrossFit Games director Dave Castro the new CEO.
The announcement was made by Mr Castro during a call with CrossFit seminar staff on Tuesday.
More than 1000 affiliate gyms, major company sponsors, star athletes and events have distanced themselves from CrossFit and Mr Glassman after his "Floyd 19" tweet sparked furore across the fitness world.
Many people labelled the tweet insensitive, claiming it made light of a race issue that has gotten worldwide attention.
Mr Glassman has since apologised for the offensive post, claiming he made a "mistake" and is "not racist".
CrossFit is a high-intensity interval training program which has centres across the world, including Australia, which pay an annual fee to be an affiliate gym.
Its highly popular form of exercise has also spawned the CrossFit Games as well as making a slew of its devotees into bona fide CrossFit stars.
'BEYOND TONE DEAF'
Over the weekend the fitness company's US-based CEO Mr Glassman sparked fury when he tweeted in response to a tweet by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation which said racism and discrimination were "critical public health issues".
"Floyd-19," Mr Glassman wrote in response, referencing the killing of black man George Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement.
It's FLOYD-19.— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 6, 2020
The backlash against Mr Glassman was swift, with followers calling out his tweet as "tone deaf" and "disgusting".
What kind of leader are you trying to be? Are you even trying? I couldn’t be more disgusted by a response to this horrific event. What a disappointment - understatement!— Seth McKinney (@SethMcKinney) June 7, 2020
Wow, this is beyond tone death. Thank you for letting your Black athletes know exactly how little you care about them— Brittany Ervin (@UnXpected_Ervin) June 7, 2020
'HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO YOUR BRAND?'
The response to Mr Glassman's tweet within the CrossFit community was swift as well, with multiple gyms and athletes immediately disowning the fitness brand.
Gyms said they would be no longer be paying their affiliate fees as they did not want to be branded as CrossFit centres in light of his comments.
@CrossFitCEO we are at a loss reading this response to @IHME_UW. As a 10+ year @CrossFit affiliate that is coming out of 3 months of business closure, we are already struggling. How could you do this to your brand that we pay to be affiliated with? Please help us understand.— CrossFit Fresno (@CrossFitFresno) June 7, 2020
James Newbury, a star athlete who has been named Australia's fittest man four times, shared an emotional video in which he said he was "out" of CrossFit until "drastic changes are made".
CrossFit star Katrín Davíðsdóttir told her 1.8 million Instagram followers she was "truly ashamed" by his actions.
Other athletes including Rich Froning, Samantha Briggs have also called into question their affiliation with headquarters over Mr Glassman's actions.
Ms Briggs has said her "future ties to CrossFit are unclear", while Mr Froning said it was "impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed".
Australian CrossFit champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she had "not taken any of this lightly" and has shared messages slamming Mr Glassman's actions from other CrossFit accounts.
CrossFit Games athlete Brooke Wells also shared a statement on Instagram revealing she doesn't "want any association with their statements as an organisation".
Mr Glassman's tweet also didn't sit well with one of CrossFit's biggest supporters, with Reebok confirming yesterday it was ending its commercial partnership with CrossFit.
"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 fulfil our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community."
Mr Glassman later responded to the criticism by seeming to try and offer further explanation to his original tweet.
"Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd's brutal murder sparked riots nationally," he wrote.
"Quarantine alone is 'accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.' Thanks!"
'IT WAS A MISTAKE, NOT RACIST'
CrossFit has now published an apology from Mr Glassman on their official Twitter account labelling his "Floyd-19" tweet a "mistake" but "not racist".
.@CrossFitCEO: "I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday.— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.
He said that he had been trying to "stick it to" the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and had been "incredulous, angry, and overly emotional" when he wrote the tweet.
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
and when I saw they were announcing modeling a solution to our racial crisis, I was incredulous, angry, and overly emotional. Involving George Floyd's name in that effort was wrong.— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
It’s our hope that his murder catalyzes real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters.— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
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."
Mr Glassman is still yet to delete his original "Floyd 19" tweet that sparked outrage.
Originally published as Fitness CEO resigns over tweet backlash