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CrossFit loses corporate partnerships after CEO mocks ‘racism is a public health issue’ virtue-signal

CrossFit loses corporate partnerships after CEO mocks ‘racism is a public health issue’ virtue-signal
Athletic brand Reebok and several affiliate gyms have canceled their partnerships with fitness giant CrossFit after its CEO tweeted a mocking response to a statement calling racism a “public health issue.”

CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman might have cost his company millions with just 13 characters. After he replied to a tweet from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation calling racism and discrimination “critical public health issues that demand an urgent response” by quipping “It’s FLOYD-19,” Reebok and affiliate gyms hurried to distance themselves from the popular fitness brand.

Reebok told Business Insider on Sunday it will not renew its contract with CrossFit after 2020, though a spokesman confirmed it would “fulfill [its] remaining contractual obligations.” The athletic brand is the title sponsor of the 2020 CrossFit Games.

Affiliate gyms including Petworth Fitness (formerly CrossFit Petworth) and Crossfit Magnus also announced they would drop their association.

Some affiliate gyms had already started to sour on CrossFit, especially after Rocket CrossFit posted Glassman's email response to a complaint about its “incoherent brand identity” several days previously. “CrossFit has stayed silent for too long as our country is at a time of reckoning for centuries of systemic racism,” Rocket's Alyssa Royse lamented, noting CrossFit was “the only major brand” she could think of that had “failed to take a stand.

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The brand’s advertisement offering to “flatten your quarantine curves,” as well as a social media post signal-boosting someone else’s tweet in which “some guy eating a bat halfway around the world” deprived them of the joy of CrossFit, also came in for condemnation in the lengthy letter from Rocket.

Glassman’s FLOYD-19 tweet was heavily ratio’ed, with many commenters calling on affiliate gyms and brands to cancel their associations.

While some might argue it isn’t a gym’s job to be the social justice conscience of its customers, Glassman’s followers were largely united in attacking the comment, with some even calling for him to be fired or resign.

Glassman followed up the FLOYD-19 tweet by slamming the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, pointing out that its “failed model” was responsible for the quarantine that has devastated gyms – CrossFit and otherwise – across the nation.

Many companies have pounced on the protests erupting across the US as an opportunity to make a token gesture to burnish their corporate virtue. Nike pledged to donate $40 million over four years to “support the black community,” while McDonald's vowed in a letter to employees to hold a town hall in order to listen to suggestions on how to “drive change beyond our Golden Arches.” Amazon shared an anti-racism essay on Instagram, though it notably avoided addressing how its facial recognition system Rekognition has been deployed by law enforcement. 

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