Commentary

Reebok Walks Away From CrossFit In Response To CEO's Tweet

Reebok is ending its sponsorship of CrossFit, along with several CrossFit affiliate gyms, all of which quickly announced they would no longer be affiliated with the brand when founder and CEO Greg Glassman tweeted “It's FLOYD-19” after the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation declared that racism and discrimination are public health issues.

“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!” Glassman continued a follow-up tweet.

“The controversial tweet was called out by Twitter users for being tone-deaf, racist, and insensitive to current events and George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes,” Shoshy Ciment writes  for Business Insider.

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Reebok, which has sponsored the CrossFit Games since 2010, also saw problems with the tweet.

“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 Footwear News. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community,” Peter Verry writes  for Footwear News.

“CrossFit affiliates expressed disappointment with Glassman's tweet. Some, like CrossFit Magnus and Petworth Fitness, announced they would be ending their affiliations with the fitness company. Rocket CrossFit in Seattle posted that it will be changing its name to Rocket Community Fitness and will likely disaffiliate from CrossFit when it is able to renew its contract,” Shoshy Ciment reports  for Business Insider.

“After eight years as a CrossFit affiliate we are ending our affiliation,” CrossFit Magnus spokesman Nick Hurndon wrote in a social media post cited by AFP on Yahoo News. “We will no longer continue to ‘carry your water,' as it is antithetical to anything we stand for and only serves the continuation of systemic racism.”

“CrossFit has over 13,000 gyms in more than 120 countries and generates some $4 billion in annual revenues,” AFP adds.

Individual athletes also took issue with Glassman’s post.

“Professional CrossFit athlete Rich Froning, who has won the CrossFit Games four times, criticized Glassman’s comments to his 1.4 million Instagram followers, saying the last few days made it 'impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed,’” Isabel Togoh writes  for Forbes. 

CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she was ‘incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated’ at the company and Glassman, adding: ‘My future with CrossFit is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ.’ Other CrossFit athletes including last year’s second place competitor, Noah Ohlsen, announced he would not compete in this year’s games,” Togoh adds.

“On Sunday, Glassman tweeted a follow-up note trying to clean-up his original comment,” Seth Cohen observes  for Forbes.

“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,” Glassman posted on the CrossFit Twitter account Sunday.

“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,” he continued.

Several other prominent figures in sports have also been held to account for their remarks and actions in recent days.

“For the past two weeks, much of the nation has mobilized to protest the systemic racism and police brutality that has victimized black communities for decades. And over the course of those two weeks, sports figures have come under fire for their own apparent racism,” Andrew Joseph posts on USA Today’s “For the Win.”

“Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle was placed on administrative leave after allegations of racism. Bills rookie quarterback Jake Fromm apologized for leaked text messages about ‘elite white people’ owning guns. And Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was criticized for wearing a ‘Football Matters’ shirt while Black Lives Matter rallies were being held nationwide,” Joseph continues.

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