Reebok drops partnership with CrossFit after CEO's divisive George Floyd tweet

Jun 8, 2020

THIS weekend, a short tweet by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman set off a storm within the community, leading some brands and affiliate gyms to end their partnership with the global fitness giant.

In response to a post by the Institute of Metric Health and Evaluation that called both racism and discrimination as urgent matters of public health, Glassman wrote: “It’s FLOYD-19.”

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The tweet was clearly a reference to the two ongoing crises hitting America today: the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter protests spurred by the death of George Floyd after a violent apprehension by police officers.

Reebok, which has sponsored the CrossFit Games since 2011, said in a statement released to Business Insider that Glassman’s tweet has pushed them to make a final decision on their ongoing negotiations with the CrossFit brand.

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“[I]n light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” said Reebok.

It added: “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community."

Reebok’s contract as the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games had been set to end this year.

Various athletes at the Games, including Rich Froning, have swiftly condemned Glassman’s tweet.

Froning, who scored a four-peat first place finish in the first few editions of the CrossFit Games, released a statement on social media condemning what he called the "callous statements".

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“While I’ve struggled with some decisions made by CFHQ over the last couple of years and what I’ve felt like have personally alienated some of the people who sacrificed and helped grow its brand,” he said. “That is nothing compared to what has happened the last couple of days and has made it impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed.”

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Various CrossFit affiliate gyms, who pay a franchise fee to the brand for use of the name, have condemned Glassman and threatened to drop the name. CrossFit news site Morning Chalkup reports that more than 100 gyms have decided to disaffiliate.

“You can do better,” said CrossFit Petworth in Washington, D.C., on their Instagram account. They also announced that they would change their name to Petworth Fitness.

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Nick Hurndon of CrossFit Magnus in Portland, Washington posted a letter to the brand’s management, saying, “Your response to the current movement to end racism and police brutality is completely unacceptable and does not align with our values and beliefs.”

In a follow-up tweet, Glassman further clarified his stance. “Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism?” he said in another response to the Institute of Metric Health and Evaluation’s post. “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!”

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