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CrossFit founder quits after backlash to George Floyd tweet

Alexis Garrod, CrossFit Potrero Hill partner and head coach, cleans off equipment in an empty gym in San Francisco.
Alexis Garrod, CrossFit Potrero Hill partner and head coach, cleans off equipment in an empty gym in San Francisco.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The founder and chief executive 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.

CEO Greg Glassman said on CrossFit Inc.'s website late Tuesday that he would retire. Glassman had apologized earlier for tweets that sparked online outrage by connecting Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police, and the COVID-19 pandemic in a tweet. He said he had made a mistake and should have been more sensitive, but he denied being racist.

“On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members,” Glassman said. “I cannot let my behavior stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions.”

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Glassman’s exit may have been sealed after BuzzFeed News posted a Zoom call he held with some CrossFit affiliates in which 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 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 Saturday, and in a second tweet he criticized the group’s “failed” quarantine model and accused it of attempting to “model a solution to racism.”

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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 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.

According to the CrossFit website, the annual fee for affiliation is $3,000, which allows gyms to use the CrossFit name, logo and promotional materials, among other perks.

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CrossFit is based in Santa Cruz.

Floyd died while handcuffed after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes. His killing set off protests around the U.S. and the globe.


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