Reebok and a host of brands cut ties with CrossFit after CEO’s ‘FLOYD-19’ comment

CrossFit came under fire from its close-knit community after staying silent and not taking a stand against racism.

Sportswear brand Reebok has announced that it will be ending its association with CrossFit following remarks by the American fitness brand’s founder and chief executive on Twitter.

Reebok has a 10-year exclusive deal as title sponsor of the CrossFit Games and is the sole licensee of CrossFit apparel and shoes. That deal is set to expire sometime after this year’s Games and contract renewal negotiations had been ongoing.

However, those talks are now over after CrossFit founder Greg Glassman replied to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Twitter after the global health research centre’s director called racism a public health issue. Glassman tweeted ‘It’s FLOYD-19’ in reference to the coronavirus pandemic and the killing of George Floyd by police.

“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year,“ Reebok said in a statement sent to The Morning Chalk Up. “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. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community. What doesn’t change is our commitment and dedication to CrossFitters and the passionate CrossFit community."

“We’re so thankful for the strong bonds we’ve created with coaches, box owners and athletes around the world over the past 10 years.”

A host of other brands that have previously sponsored the CrossFit Games, like Rogue and FitAid, have also come out to denounce Glassman’s comments and have either ended or are considering ending their sponsorship.

CrossFit gyms, which run on an affiliate model, have also slammed Glassman’s comments and many have taken to social media to announce they are either giving up or not renewing their affiliation.

Past and present CrossFit athletes, like two-time CrossFit Games champion Katrin Davidsdottir and four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning, have also criticised Glassman for his remarks.

Meanwhile, Noah Olsen, who finished second in the 2019 CrossFit Games, announced on Instagram that he is declining his invite to this year’s Games.

CrossFit came under fire from its close-knit community after staying silent and not taking a stand against racism for almost two weeks after Floyd’s death. CrossFit had previously announced its support for the LGBTQ community and fired an employee for saying ‘celebrating Pride is a sin’.

It is also a big supporter of police officers, military personnel and other first responders, and has ’Hero’ workouts named after fallen war heroes.

Instead, the fitness brand posted videos of workouts while protests against police brutality and conversations around racism were ongoing in the United States. In the meantime, Glassman tweeted and called an affiliate owner ‘delusional’ after she had emailed him to urge CrossFit to speak up.

After the affiliate owner Alyssa Royse of Rocket Community Fitness, formerly Rocket CrossFit, posted the email on her website, CrossFit broke its silence and posted on Facebook and sought feedback on what it could do for people of colour in its community, but without addressing recent events.

Glassman has also since apologised for his comments. In a series of tweets on CrossFit’s Twitter, he said: ”I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake with 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. I was trying to stick it to the @IHME_UW for their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown, and when I saw they were announcing modelling a solution to our racial crisis, I was incredulous, angry, and overly emotional. Involving George Floyd’s name in that effort was wrong.

”It’s our hope that his murder catalyzes real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters. Please hear me when I say, we stand by our community to fight for justice. I care about you, our community, and I am here for you.”

CrossFit had previously deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts, which had 3.1 million and 2.8 million followers respectively, citing privacy concerns. When it did return to social media, however, one of its first actions was to repost a post downplaying the coronavirus epidemic.

This prompted angry calls to delete the post by multiple Chinese affiliates and CrossFit-affiliated competitions like the Asian CrossFit Championship Sanctional. CrossFit did delete the post, but did not apologise.

Meanwhile, L’Oreal has been called out for hypocrisy after it jumped on the Black Lives Matter movement despite its history of silencing voices on racism.

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