Reebok has led the charge of brands and athletes cutting ties with fitness firm CrossFit, after founder and CEO Greg Glassman controversially tweeted “It’s Floyd-19” in response to a tweet about racism being a public health issue.
His tweet was a direct reply to a post from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that read: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Glassman later apologized on the CrossFit twitter page, saying: “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.”
Reebok ended its exclusive 10-year deal as the main CrossFit sponsor and licensee of CrossFit apparel. The sportswear giant said in a statement: “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.”
Professional CrossFit athlete Rich Froning, who has won the CrossFit Games four times, criticised 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.”
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.
CrossFit affiliate gym Rocket CrossFit, based in Seattle, said it will disaffiliate with the company, and in a blog post published a profanity-laden letter from Glassman that attacked the gym’s co-owner, Alyssa Royse, of trying to brand CrossFit as “racist”.
CrossFit games supplier Rogue Fitness, which provides strength training equipment to the event, said it would remove the CrossFit logo from this year’s event and will “work with CrossFit Games leadership to determine the best path forward.”
Before Glassman’s tweet, CrossFit had stayed noticeably silent on Twitter and Instagram on the Black Lives Matter movement as a host of companies publicly took a stand on anti-racism following Floyd’s death. CrossFit has previously pledged public support for the LGBT community, as well as dedicating its ‘Hero’ workouts to fallen soldiers.