Fitness company CrossFit has witnessed a slew of sponsorship withdrawals after its founder, Greg Glassman, made some controversial statements.
Glassman had mocked the current anti-racism protests that have gripped the country over the weekend, Forbes reports. After his statement sparked outrage, several of the company’s partners immediately cut ties and bailed on it.
The Tweet that Could End the Company
Per the report, Glassman had replied to a tweet from the Health Metrics and Evaluation, which called racism and discrimination public health issues.
Quite insensitively, he called it “Floyd-19,” essentially mocking people who had been protesting the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd at the hands of police officers two weeks ago.
Unlike several prominent sports brands and companies, CrossFit stayed notoriously silent on police brutality and racism. However, Glassman immediately sent out an apology from the CrossFit Twitter page.
“I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.”
Glassman further explained that he had been trying to clarify a point about the lockdown procedure that has been instituted to prevent the coronavirus spread, as a follow-up to his potentially company-dooming tweet showed.
Despite his professed remorse, the endorsements have started to drop for CrossFit. According to Forbes, famous sports brand Reebok announced that it would end its support as CrossFit’s leading partner and apparel licensee.
In a statement, Reebok reportedly explained that it had been in talks with CrossFit concerning an extension of their partnership, which was slated to end this year. However, Glassman’s comments have put an end to that.
Rich Froning, a professional athlete who has won the CrossFit Games four times, also reportedly said on Instagram that he wouldn’t be partnering with the company going forward.
Rocket CrossFit, a Seattle-based gym affiliated with the company, announced that it would no longer work with it. At the same time, Rogue Fitness, one of the top suppliers of strength training equipment for the CrossFit Games, said it would remove the CrossFit logo from this year’s games and work with its leadership determine a profitable path forward.
CrossFit is the latest in a line of notable sports names to get harshly criticized for their stance on the latest protests. Last week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took a lot of heat for claiming that he wouldn’t welcome NFL players kneeling when the season resumes. Like Glassman, Brees apologized – as did his wife. However, it’s safe to say that his reputation has suffered a dent.
CrossFit’s Business Model is at Risk
CrossFit’s business model is heavily dependent on partners and gyms. The company is based on a fitness regimen that Glassman developed, and thousands of gyms across the world incorporate it. All of the gyms work on an affiliate model, and they pay CrossFit for permission to use the regimen and the company’s name.
The firm also gets paid through partnering with brands like Reebok, hosting events, and more. With its top partners leaving in their numbers, the company could be at the start of a death spiral.
Glassman’s tweet could also not come at a worse time for the firm. As explained earlier, gyms are CrossFit’s primary source of income. Sadly, these gyms have been significantly impacted by the lockdown. Perhaps that was the reason behind his criticism of the lockdown in the first place.
At press time, only a few states have allowed gyms to resume operations as part of their reopening plans. Even at that, there’s a significant chance that people will be skeptical about going to public gyms for the time being.