Greg Glassman has resigned as CEO of the fitness brand CrossFit after telling gym owners on a private Zoom call, “We’re not mourning for George Floyd — I don’t think me or any of my staff are.”
The 75-minute Zoom call was sent to BuzzFeed News via its tipline and the rest is history.
“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 asked why the company hadn’t posted a statement about the protests following Floyd’s murder while in police custody.
CrossFit later released a statement from Glassman he had “decided to retire” and was stepping down as CEO.
“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. They are too important to jeopardize.”
Hours after the Zoom call, Glassman responded to a tweet that said racism was a public health issue. Glassman tweeted in response, “It’s FLOYD-19.” Nearly immediately, the tweet drew backlash from gym owners and Reebok ended a partnership deal with the company.
“Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year,” Reebok said in a statement to CNN Business. “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. We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020.”
Other brands as well as gyms have started to distance themselves from CrossFit.
The CrossFit fitness regimen is practiced at 13,000 affiliated gyms. About half of them are outside the U.S. Glassman co-founded the brand in 2000. CrossFit licenses its name to gyms for an annual fee and certifies trainers.
“Its adherents have turned CrossFit into a cult whose brand generates some $4 billion in annual revenue and CrossFit, Inc. rakes in perhaps $100 million, by my estimate,” Mike Ozanian wrote in a 2015 Forbes article.
At least five Indianapolis-area CrossFit locations have disaffiliated after Glassman’s tweets.
“As of right now we have dropped our CrossFit name and have unaffiliated with crossfit and Greg Glassman. The comments made by Greg the CEO of CF was the last straw and I will not associate myself or my gym with…” Transcona CrossFit (@TransconaCF) tweeted.
After the uproar, CrossFit subsequently tweeted an apology on Glassman’s behalf, saying his words were “not racist but a mistake.”
In his public apology, Glassman said, “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.”
During the Zoom meeting, Glassman also spoke of unfounded conspiracy theories that included speculation Floyd was killed to “silence him” due to a purported, baseless role in a criminal conspiracy centered around counterfeit money, BuzzFeed reported.
Glassman said that the nightclub where both Floyd and his alleged killer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, worked has “been under investigation by the FBI for over a decade for laundering money.”
“It’s very interesting that George gets popped with counterfeits, and who comes but the head of security from the dance club? Watch, this thing’s going to turn into first-degree murder,” Glassman said on the call. “That’s what it’s going to turn into. And it’s going to be because I’m predicting this. We have friends in the FBI in your neighborhood, and they’re of the view that this was first-degree murder and it was to silence him over the counterfeit money. That’s the belief. That’s what the cops think.”
Following Glassman’s “retirement” statement, CrossFit issued a public statement titled “Why Didn’t CrossFit Just Say Something?“
“We disappointed you,” the company said. “It hurt you and us. We need to talk.”
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The letter admitted that Glassman’s comments were “incredibly insensitive and hurtful,” but said he should not be judged on those comments alone.
“Greg believes in equality,” the statement added. “Greg made a mistake. His communications will have to be reconciled with the person we know. He is being put on trial online, and we challenge you to be thorough in your review of a man who is imperfect but sincere in his love of helping others to become better while creating opportunities for others to do the same.
“He does make mistakes, but he has done more than anyone for this community and created unimagined opportunities for others. If you measure Greg Glassman, do it thoroughly.”