CrossFit CEO resigns over controversial remarks on George Floyd's death
Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of the US fitness brand CrossFit, has resigned after his remarks over the death of George Floyd sparked a controversy. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis earlier in May. Glassman's insensitive views on the subject had sparked nationwide uproar and caused CrossFit to lose out on affiliations with sports brands.
Glassman said on Tuesday, "I'm stepping down as CEO of CrossFit, Inc, and I have decided to retire." He acknowledged that his comments "created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members." He said his behavior cannot stand in the way of the CrossFit HQ's or the affiliates' missions as they are "too important to jeopardize."
CrossFit is a branded exercise regimen involving high-intensity group workouts. Glassman (63) had conceived the company as a high school gymnast in his parents' garage in California. It is now valued at $4 billion and is affiliated with an estimated 13,000 gyms globally.
On Saturday night, Glassman responded to a tweet that said "Racism is a public health issue." He wrote, "It's Floyd-19," apparently referring to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In another tweet posted the next day, he wrote, "Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd's brutal murder sparked riots nationally."
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
On a private Zoom call with gym owners, Glassman said, "We're not mourning for George Floyd—I don't think me or any of my staff are," BuzzFeed reported. When a Minneapolis gym owner asked why CrossFit had not spoken about Floyd's death, Glassman reportedly said, "Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it's the white thing to do."
After his remarks created a stir, Glassman had issued a statement on Sunday saying, "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."
.@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.
Hundreds of affiliate gyms have now removed CrossFit from their branding. Adidas-owned Reebok also said that it was splitting with CrossFit. "In light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ," Adidas AG told AFP. Many CrossFit athletes have also spoken against Glassman's remarks. Olympian and three-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey even apologized for the ignorance.
I wanted to start by saying that I am incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated with the actions and words of Crossfit HQ and in particular Greg Glassman. I’m deeply apologetic from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have had to witness this ignorance and the pain it causes. A lack of acknowledgement and empathy for those who are fighting for basic human rights and equality is simply inexcusable and it’s behaviour that we cannot stand for. It has made both Shane and I incredibly ashamed to be a part of an organisation that we have dedicated so much of ourselves to. If it has us angered and disappointed like we are, we couldn’t even begin to imagine how these words and actions affect the extremely diverse global community of crossfitters and supporters who have all dedicated so much time, money and passion to the sport. But this is much bigger than the sport. For those who continue to be dismissive of inequality, you must understand that this is a truly GLOBAL issue and we NO longer can sit idle and do or say nothing. It’s on ALL of us to keep fighting the cause globally until systemic racism and the inhumane treatment of black communities around the globe no longer exists. I said earlier that this issue is much bigger than sport, yet sport and the functional fitness space has a really important part to play. Sport and fitness bring us together and unite us in such a powerful and profound way. I want my platform to drive positivity, unity and the overall message that no matter your skin colour or cultural background, we should all inspire one another to be the best versions of themselves. I want my platform to reflect the values and beliefs of the community I feel most comfortable in, a community that raises up those around them and gives everybody their own individual opportunity to be a champion. My future with Crossfit is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ. I will continue to stand against ignorance and stand alongside those who fight abuse, hatred and racism.
Floyd died on May 25 after a white cop knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. He was being arrested for allegedly buying cigarettes with a counterfeit banknote. Videos of the incident, where Floyd can be heard complaining "I can't breathe," went viral. The incident sparked protests against systemic racism and police brutality. Incidentally, Glassman's resignation came on the day of Floyd's funeral.