Some of the top finishers of next week’s 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games in Southern California will receive more than a cash prize and celebration of their physical prowess -- they’ll also receive a Glock handgun.
The director of the games, Dave Castro, said the gun company offered the weapons as prizes and he gladly accepted.
“I am one of millions of people in the U.S. who own guns for recreational and legal purposes. I compete in competitive shooting events, and I have a lot of friends in the shooting industry. Glock offered up pistols as prizes, I agreed to it,” Castro told The Times in an email.
But the decision has not come without controversy.
CrossFitters have taken to the games’ Facebook page and Castro’s Instagram account to voice their outrage.
“Half of the US and most of the rest of the world do NOT agree with the American gun culture, and are disgusted that you are forcing people who do crossfit to be associated with it. … Whatever you believe in, show some respect, and stop ignoring that Crossfit is an international sport,” one person commented on Facebook.
One of Castro’s Instagram posts showing a handgun on a bed of bullet casings has garnered more than 950 comments, many supporting the decision and others not so much.
“As if our country doesn’t glorify guns enough already. Fitness not firearms, please. This sponsorship and Dave Castro’s personal choices to showcase guns saddens me as someone who does Crossfit,” an Instagram user wrote.
But Castro, who has a link to the Glock company’s website on his Instagram profile, remains undeterred by the criticism.
“There has also been tremendous support. If I were to make all of my decisions based off of backlash, everything I have done around the CrossFit Games would have been butchered, altered and changed multiple times over,” he said. “As long as guns are legal in the U.S. based off of our constitutional right, nothing is changing.”
One of the competitors expected to finish near the top is Mathew Fraser, who posted a photo in support of Castro’s decision.
Castro pointed out that a firearm was given away during the 2009 competition. In 2013, a competition called CrossFit Firefight involved typical CrossFit activities such as running and pull-ups, but also target shooting with pistols.
“We are not asking anyone to change their stance or views on guns, we are not forcing or playing any political agenda,” Castro said. “ We are simply giving pistols to the winners of the Games as an added prize. I don't mind if someone is anti gun or pro gun. Its their personal agenda [sic.] This is our event, and pistols are legal in all 50 states in the US and we have the right to give a pistol away as a prize. We are going to do that.”
According to the rules for the games, the top individual winners from the men’s and women’s competitions receive $275,000 apiece. The top finishing teams each receive $70,000 along with the gun for each team member.
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