A single tweet form the founder and CEO of CrossFit has prompted Reebok to announce it will end its lucrative relationship with the fitness network at the end of the year.
The tweet in question came from Greg Glassman, who founded the business with his wife in 2000, in response to a statement from the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
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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.”
— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 6, 2020
Glassman followed that up the next day by criticising the IHM’s advocacy for quarantines and lamenting national riots.
“Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism?” he wrote.
“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!”
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!
— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 7, 2020
CrossFit CEO condemned over ‘disgusting’ tweet
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 fulfil our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.
“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 right - also questioned the tweet or said they would sever ties with CrossFit.
@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
Grossman’s email to gym comes to light
One CrossFit gym announced it would cease its partnership and posted Grossman’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.”
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.”
Wow. Reebok's brand partnership with Crossfit is over - and affiliates are outraged re CEO Greg Glassman's insensitive comments re #GeorgeFloyd
Given CF in general + Glassman in particular are not known for political correctness, this feels significanthttps://t.co/6ySK2thjS8
— Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Ph.D. (@nataliapetrzela) June 7, 2020
I cannot support a company that supports Greg Glassman.
Effective immediately, I will cease all consults to @crossfitbc crossfit gyms.
I understand that not everyone has the same beliefs as this man, therefore if… https://t.co/SfX0TlukRJ
— Dr Elna Johnson (Muñoz) (@Dr_Elna) June 7, 2020
This is disgusting. @CrossFit is cancelled until Greg Glassman steps down.
Also FYI it is called COVID-19 bc it originated in 2019.
So tone deaf, blatantly racist, and incredibly misinformed. https://t.co/skNlYVOpiR
— Alexis Smith (@alexizsmith_) June 7, 2020
Wow, this email exchange between Crossfit co-founder Greg Glassman and one of its gym affiliate partners is just shocking. If Crossfit doesn't want to be branded as being racist, why is it staying silent? https://t.co/WFffw0s4s6
— Sonia Paul (@sonipaul) June 5, 2020
Gotta say, as a member of the CrossFit community, this response from Greg Glassman hurts.https://t.co/ZwphqhSjwE
— Hoon Kim (@hoon_k) June 5, 2020