CrossFit founder and CEO is stepping down after his tweet about George Floyd sparked a social media response and a wave of affiliate gyms cut ties with the company.
Reebok also canceled his ties to CrossFit this week.
Greg Glassman wrote on the CrossFit website on Tuesday that he would be retiring. Glassman had previously apologized for tweets that sparked online outrage from Floyd, an African-American man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police, to link the corona virus pandemic. He said he made a mistake and should have been more sensitive, but denied being racist.
“On Saturday, I created a rift in the CrossFit community and inadvertently hurt many of its members,” said Glassman. “I can’t get in the way of my behavior getting in the way of headquarters or affiliate missions.”
Glassman’s exit may have been sealed after Buzzfeed posted a Zoom call he made with CrossFit-affiliated gyms in which Glassman reportedly said, “We’re not grieving George Floyd – I don’t think I or any of my staff is ., Said Buzzfeed. it received the recording through its anonymous tip line.
The Zoom call took place hours before Glassman responded quickly on Twitter to a message from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a health research group, that said, “Racism is a public health problem.”
“It’s FLOYD-19,” he replied Saturday, and in a second tweet, he criticized the group’s “failed” quarantine model, accusing him of trying to “model a solution to racism.”
About 1,250 gyms have now cut ties with CrossFit, according to industry blog Morning Chalk Up. An anonymous curated Google spreadsheet contains hundreds of CrossFit partners with links to their social media accounts, most of which on the list say they’ve broken ties or are considering doing so.
“In light of the recent comments from the CrossFit CEO, we are relinquishing CrossFit,” read a post on the Instagram account for CrossFit Central in Austin, Texas. “We are firm in our anti-racist beliefs and our stance against police brutality. We stand in solidarity with the black community. ”
CrossFit Central’s post reflected the sentiments of hundreds of other gyms around the world in an amazingly quick response to CrossFit.
An Edelman Trust Barometer survey of 2,000 Americans, published Tuesday, found that 60% of respondents said how a brand responds to protests will affect whether a respondent buys or boycotts their products. The poll found that younger Americans felt most strongly, with 78% of millennial respondents saying a brand should speak out about racial injustice.
“Americans want brands to take on a greater role and play a central role in addressing systemic racism,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of the communications company. “This is a mandate for brands to act, because consumers will practice brand democracy with their wallets.”
The rate at which businesses and affiliates are moving away from CrossFit has been sped up by social media and to some extent by the corona virus pandemic, said marketing and branding expert Allen Adamson.
“In the past, most companies only had to talk about: does their product work?” Said Adamson. “Now younger consumers are pulling companies into this conversation because they want to not only want to know what their product does, but they also want to know what the company stands for before doing business with them. And that pressure poses all kinds of challenges to companies.”
According to the CrossFit website, the annual connection fee for gyms or other facilities is $ 3,000, allowing them to use the CrossFit name, logo, and promotional materials, among other things.
Dave Castro becomes the new CEO of CrossFit based in Santa Cruz, California.
Floyd died while handcuffed after a white police officer pressed his knee to the back of his neck for several minutes. His death sparked protests in the United States and around the world.
London’s AP writer Kelvin Chan contributed to this story.
This story has been corrected to show that the Edelman poll was published Tuesday, not Wednesday.
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