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CrossFit Backlash Continues as Star Athletes Bow Out

Andy Berg

Proving the power of social media in today's society, CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman's pair of tweets may have irreparably damaged a $4 billion brand that had evolved into a bona fide fitness movement. 

The fallout from Glassman’s tweets mocking both the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of George Floyd continued Tuesday as more CrossFit boxes, sponsors and athletes pulled their support of the CrossFit organization.

For CrossFit boxes choosing to distance themselves from the brand, they are relieved of having to pay what amount to franchise fees for the use of the CrossFit name.

USA Today reports that NC Fit, a conglomerate of CrossFit gyms headquartered in the Bay Area has ended its affiliation with CrossFit, and Windy City CrossFit in Chicago has decided to rebrand itself as “Windy City Strength and Conditioning.”

Meanwhile, the some of the sport’s top athletes are also disavowing the sport that made them famous.

Three-time defending CrossFit Games champion Tia-Claire Toomey issued an passionate statement on Instagram, denouncing Glassman’s remarks. “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,” Toomey said. “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.”

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

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.

A post shared by Tia-Clair Toomey (@tiaclair1) on Jun 7, 2020 at 9:07pm PDT

The male runner-up in last year’s games, Noah Ohlsen, also expressed his disappointment with Glassman.

"I’ve decided that I cannot, in good conscience, compete during this time for a company that hasn’t shown themselves to have values that I align with," Ohlsen said.

Others on Twitter simply declared the death of CrossFit at the hands of its CEO.

Writing on Twitter in response to a tweet from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which called racism a public health issue, Glassman replied, “It’s Floyd-19.” 

Far from immediately apologizing for his tweet, Glassman doubled down on his stance.

“Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism?” Glassman continued. “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!”

Glassman would later apologize for his comments but also argued that they were not racist.

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