A single tweet from the founder and CEO of CrossFit has prompted Reebok to announce it will end its relationship with the fitness network by the end of the year. Greg Glassman, who founded the business with his wife in 2000, has since apologized.
The tweet in question came 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 issue. Glassman replied with a joke about COVID-19, which the IHM has covered since March. Specifically, he called it “FLOYD-19.”
It's FLOYD-19.— Greg Glassman (@CrossFitCEO) June 6, 2020
Glassman followed that up the next day by criticizing the IHM’s advocacy for quarantines and lamenting national riots.
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
A tweet equating a response to systemic racism and police brutality to a global pandemic was bound to draw backlash, and that eventually included one of CrossFit’s biggest corporate partners.
Reebok announced to Footwear News on Sunday that it has ended discussions about extending its partnership with CrossFit and will allow its relationship to come to an end this year:
“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year. Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” Reebok said in a statement emailed to FN. “We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.”
The statement continued, “What doesn’t change is our commitment and dedication to CrossFitters and the passionate CrossFit community. We’re so thankful for the strong bonds we’ve created with coaches, box owners and athletes around the world over the past 10 years. We want to especially thank Dave Castro, Nicole Carroll, Andy Stumpf, Steve Weiss and Jimi Letchford, who were instrumental in ensuring Reebok was welcomed by the community, so that we could do our part to help more people improve their lives through fitness.”
One CrossFit gym announced 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.”
Glassman later released a statement via the @CrossFit Twitter account, saying his choice of words was “not racist but a mistake” and calling for racial justice.
Floyd is a hero in the black community and not just a victim. I should have been sensitive to that and wasn't. I apologize for that. I was trying to stick it to the @IHME_UW for their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown,— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
It’s our hope that his murder catalyzes real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters.— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
Please hear me when I say, we stand by our community to fight for justice. I care about you, our community, and I am here for you."
This isn’t the first time that a tweet from a CrossFit executive has triggered 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.”
More from Yahoo Sports: