Comments about the killing of George Floyd appear to have resulted in the retirement of the CEO and founder of one of America’s biggest fitness brands and an exodus of the company’s partners.
CrossFit head Greg Glassman announced Tuesday that he is stepping down from his post at the company he started with his now ex-wife in 2000. The announcement came hours after Buzzfeed published a story reporting Glassman told affiliated gyms that the company is “not mourning for George Floyd.”
Glassman’s full statement:
“I’m stepping down as CEO of CrossFit, Inc., and I have decided to retire. On Saturday I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members. Since I founded CrossFit 20 years ago, it has become the world’s largest network of gyms. All are aligned in offering an elegant solution to the vexing problem of chronic disease. Creating CrossFit and supporting its affiliates and legions of professional trainers has been a labor of love.
Those who know me know that my sole issue is the chronic disease epidemic. I know that CrossFit is the solution to this epidemic and that CrossFit HQ and its staff serve as the stewards of CrossFit affiliates worldwide. I cannot let my behavior stand in the way of HQ’s or affiliates’ missions. They are too important to jeopardize.”
Major CrossFit partner Reebok and multiple Crossfit gyms have already announced they are ending their affiliation with the company, following a week of controversial statements from the 63-year-old.
CrossFit CEO: ‘We’re not mourning for George Floyd’
According to Buzzfeed, Glassman’s most inflammatory comments came in a check-in Zoom call that CrossFit brass regularly held with a random collection of affiliated gyms during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The topic of the call reportedly featured several comments from Glassman on Floyd’s killing and the resulting protests, in which he had said this to say:
“We're not mourning for George Floyd — I don't think me or any of my staff are,” according to a full recording of the meeting obtained by BuzzFeed News.
“Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do — other than that, give me another reason,” he asked a Minneapolis gym owner who had questioned why the brand hadn’t posted a statement about the protests across the country after the death of George Floyd.
Glassman reportedly added he didn’t think “that there’s a general mourning for Floyd in any community.”
In addition to his comments on Floyd, Glassman reportedly brought up an unfounded conspiracy theory speculating that Floyd was killed as part of a criminal conspiracy involving counterfeit money, questioned the legitimacy of the protests in response to Floyd’s death, pointing to “Black-on-Black murder every weekend in every one of our cities” and said that announced plans to dismantle and rebuild the Minneapolis Police Department are “terrifying.”
The conversation also naturally featured a hefty dose of COVID-19 discussion in which Glassman reportedly shared the unfounded theory that the coronavirus was the product of a Chinese lab, claimed epidemiology is a “social science” and said upstate New Yorkers should secede from the state over lockdown measures in New York City.
Glassman reportedly told gym owners to only pretend to comply with health precautions when they are allowed to reopen and said such precautions will end up killing more than the 100,000-plus the coronavirus has claimed:
“It was a panic. Absolute panic right from the start. And I think it's inevitable that it's going to turn out that this has cost way more lives than have been saved. Way more,” he said. “At some point, you've got to do what's right, and it may not come with approval. It may not be seen as the right thing to do, but you still have to do it. It's the burden.”
“I was asked by the Italians, 'What would you do, coach?' And I said, 'I would agree to any restrictions put on me by the health authorities, and I would open my gym, and then 10 minutes later I would do whatever the f--- I wanted. That's what I would do.'"
The Zoom call reportedly preceded a pair of tweets Glassman posted in response to a statement from the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The statement called racism a public health crisis, which led to this response from Glassman:
Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism? 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!— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 7, 2020
This all came after one CrossFit gym announced Friday it would cease its partnership and posted Glassman’s reply to an email it had sent questioning his response to the pandemic and protests around Floyd’s death. In an unhinged reply, Glassman questioned the writer’s mental health, called her attitude “disgusting” and deemed her “evil” and “a really s---- person.”
This isn’t the first time that a CrossFit executive has exited the company following a backlash, as the company once fired its chief knowledge officer Russell Berger after he called celebrating LGBTQ pride a “sin.”
Shortly before Berger’s firing, Glassman was quoted as saying “He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f--- up' and hide out for awhile. It’s sad.”
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