The founder and CEO of CrossFit is stepping down after his tweet about George Floyd sparked a social media backlash and a wave of affiliated gyms cut ties with the company.
Reebok also dropped its affiliation with CrossFit this week.
Greg Glassman wrote on CrossFit’s website late on Tuesday that he would retire. Mr Glassman had apologised earlier for tweets that sparked online outrage by connecting Mr Floyd, an African American man who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police, and the coronavirus pandemic. He said he had made a mistake and should have been more sensitive, but denied being racist.
Mr Glassman said: “On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members. I cannot let my behaviour stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions.”
Mr Glassman’s exit may have been sealed after Buzzfeed posted a Zoom call he held with CrossFit affiliated gyms in which Mr Glassman reportedly said: “We’re not mourning for George Floyd – I don’t think me or any of my staff are.” Buzzfeed said it received the recording through its anonymous tip line.
The Zoom call took place hours before Mr Glassman made a glib response on Twitter to a post by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a health research group, which said, “Racism is a public health issue”.
“It’s FLOYD-19,” he replied on Saturday, and in a second tweet criticised the group’s “failed” quarantine model and accused it of attempting to “model a solution to racism”.
Some 1,250 gyms have now severed links with CrossFit, according to industry blog Morning Chalk Up. An anonymously-curated Google spreadsheet lists hundreds of CrossFit affiliates with links to their social media accounts, with most on the list saying they have cut ties, or are considering doing so.
“In light of recent comments made by CrossFit CEO, we are deaffiliating from CrossFit,” read a post on the Instagram account for CrossFit Central of Austin, Texas. “We are resolute in our anti racist beliefs and stance against police brutality. We stand in solidarity with the black community.”
The post by CrossFit Central echoed the sentiments of hundreds of other gyms around the world in what has been an astonishingly swift backlash against CrossFit.