CrossFit's response to the Black Lives Matter protests have prompted gyms across the United States to drop their affiliation with the company.
Gym owners across the United States were disappointed as CrossFit failed to quickly put out a statement either in support of black athletes or in solidarity with those protesting against George Floyd's murder. Following this, CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman posted controversial tweets with reference to Floyd's death and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soon after, Reebok and other partners began cutting ties with the company. Glassman later apologized and walked back the tweets.
"I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism," Glassman said on Twitter. "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. 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."
Several gym owners, however, said that the company's silence before the tweets was more problematic than the tweets themselves.
"Watching both the Covid-19 pandemic and then the United States waking up and fighting for social justice in a really big way and watching CrossFit say nothing was really painful," CNN quoted Alyssa Royse, owner of Rocket Community Fitness gym in Seattle, Washington, as saying.
Royse changed the name of her gym to Rocket Community Fitness from to Rocket CrossFit. Gyms affiliated to CrossFit pay an annual fee to the company in order to use the brand in their names.
"As a brand, Rocket couldn't be aligned with a bigger brand that wasn't on the right side of history ... It's this huge global behemoth that just said nothing," Royse said.
Among the companies that cut off ties with CrossFit is DeGeyndt's Petworth Fitness.
"This is a difficult letter to write, but we wish to inform [CrossFit] and as many other affiliates as we can: The inaction of CrossFit regarding anti-racism work is unacceptable, and as a result, we are choosing to disaffiliate from CrossFit. As a brand that has preached about being 'for all,' the deafening silence on current and past issues of racism tells us all we need to know," Petworth Fitness wrote in an Instagram post.
The gym plans to donate the amount that was due this month for CrossFit to Black Lives Matter and to Know Your Rights, a nonprofit founded by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
CrossFit on June 5 finally released a statement saying it had been "having uncomfortable discussions on injustice, racism, and all forms of hate." It further asked how it could better support the black CrossFit community.
"Members of this community feel neglected, left out, trapped, and hurt. Some are isolated, angry, and confused, while others are actively seeking ways to effect real change. We see you. We hear you," the statement read.
However, the very next day, on June 6, Glassman was yet again criticized for several tweets where he criticized the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's statement that racism is a public health issue.
"Floyd-19," Glassman replied on Saturday.
Glassman, in a follow-up tweet, said that the health research institute's COVID-19 model failed. He also criticized it for modelling 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," he tweeted.
Reebok, following Glassman's tweets, clarified that it would not renew its brand partnership with CrossFit.
"Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year," Reebok said in a statement to CNN Business. "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. We will fulfil our remaining contractual obligations in 2020."
Following the tweets, various other gyms also disaffiliated.
Also Read: Minneapolis Police Department To Be Dismantled After George Floyd's Death