Top brands, athletes ditch CrossFit after CEO Greg Glassman says ‘I do not mourn George Floyd’

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Several top athletes along with sportswear brand Reebok have cut ties with CrossFit after CEO Greg Glassman reportedly told people, “I do not mourn George Floyd,” a reference to the black Minneapolis man who died at the hands of police last month.

Glassman reportedly made the comments during a Zoom conference call with gym owners and staff, the UK’s Daily Mail reports.

In addition, Glassman is also being criticized for what many saw as a racially insensitive tweet, “It’s FLOYD-19.”

Glassman’s alleged comments were contained in a highly critical Medium post written by Mike Young, a CrossFit gym owner on Sunday, which led to Reebok and top CrossFit athletes from around the world dropping the brand.

The controversy began Saturday following a tweet posted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) describing racism and discrimination as a public health concern that deserves an urgent response, according to The Daily Mail.

The research center included a statement from Christopher Murray, it’s director, who said that IHME is committed to analyzing racial disparities in an array of areas to include how COVID-19 may have impacted certain ethnicities.

Glassman retweeted the IHME post, writing, “It’s FLOYD-19,” as he blasted the institute for its coronavirus response recommendations.

https://twitter.com/CrossFitCEO/status/1269404726581288960

Writing on Media, Young described Glassman’s alleged reaction to a request from a gym owner in Minneapolis to talk about the company’s stand on current racial tensions around the country, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I do not mourn George Floyd,” Glassman responded, according to Young, who added that he repeated the statement “several times.”

“He also denied any notion that racism might exist in some police forces and he seemed to downplay racism at all,” Young, who is also a sports scientist and performance director, wrote. “The discussion got increasingly contentious. Greg was self-righteous and confident.”

Young said there were approximately 15 people on the Zoom call at the time Glassman made his comments.

The performance director said that the call began with a discussion about closures of gyms after being designated ‘non-essential’ during the coronavirus pandemic. Glassman reportedly complained about New York City’s response to the outbreak, adding that businesses should not have been forced to shutter.

The call took a decidedly uncomfortable turn when the Minneapolis gym owner — whose business is just a few blocks from where Floyd died after being pinned to the pavement for several minutes — asked for Glassman to comment on the incident.

“I sat watching, amazed at what was being said,” Young noted of what Glassman was saying.

“Even though this was a private Zoom meeting, the things Glassman was saying were among the most inappropriate statements a CEO of a multi-national, multi-million dollar company could possibly say in a time of national unrest over racial injustice,” he added.

“While Glassman was not outright racist (in so much as he did not use the ‘N’ word or say that Floyd deserved to die), the most gracious description I can give is that he was tone deaf, insensitive, and in denial,” he added.

Young noted that he purposely did not reveal everything that was said during the call that he felt was inappropriate because he feared legal retaliation from CrossFit.

“I know that the call was being recorded by CrossFit HQ, so if they feel I am misrepresenting their position, I would encourage them to share the unedited recording publicly,” he wrote.

“Similarly, I know that there were at least several others on the call who were uncomfortable and can verify my account.”

Glassman has since apologized for his statements.

“I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday,” he wrote on Twitter via the company’s account. “My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.”

Glassman blamed the comments on a negative reaction to the IHME post about racism being a public health issue.

“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, and when I saw they were announcing modeling a solution to our racial crisis, I was incredulous, angry, and overly emotional. Involving George Floyd’s name in that effort was wrong,” he added.

“It’s our hope that his murder catalyzes real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters,” Glassman added. “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.”

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Jon Dougherty

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