At a time when prominent figures and organizations from the worlds of fitness, sport, entertainment and fashion have all become vocal in their support of the protests against racial inequality and police brutality, CrossFit Inc. has been plagued by conflicts and remained, for the most part, silent.
First, CEO Greg Glassman caused controversy with a tweet about the death of George Floyd, which was deemed excessively glib by some, and condemned as outwardly racist by others. Responding to an assertion that racism and discrimination constitute matters of public health for the Black community, Glassman remarked "it's FLOYD-19."
This insensitive quip drew criticism from rival fitness brands, and while Glassman soon admitted that his tweet was a "mistake," reports began to emerge that he had also been dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Floyd's death specifically, on a conference call that week. BuzzFeed News later leaked audio from the call, confirming Glassman's remarks.
Glassman has since retired as CEO of CrossFit Inc., stating that he has "created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members." But the damage has already been done: gyms are dropping their affiliations, companies are pulling out of sponsorships, and a number of key staff have resigned.
In the wake of Glassman's departure the embattled brand has finally issued an official statement, clarifying its stance on the Black Lives Matter movement and apologizing for its slowness to speak out sooner.
"We pride ourselves on authenticity and truth, but we got it wrong by failing to tell you we really care about black people and support the need for real change," reads the open letter from CrossFit Headquarters. "We weren’t sure how to get the message right, and as a result, we failed catastrophically by not effectively communicating care for the Black community, all as the online world was watching and experiencing extreme pain. We, the members of CrossFit HQ, have failed to meet a moment when the community wanted to hear from us most. For that, we extend our deepest and sincerest apologies. We are sorry."
"We struggled to speak to the Black community because we overly complicated the need to care and respond," the letter continues. "The same scrutiny we bring to assembling an article on CrossFit.com is not needed for telling the Black community we love them and we support them. We have not properly done the work to make it clear that you are welcome and wanted in this community."
"This is the message we should have sent to the community we love. We know we are too late, but here we stand. Please review this apology and take a moment to pause, reflect, and digest what we have said. Our team sees the decisions being made in reaction to our founder's actions as part of the healing process that is much needed for many around the world. However, we want to reach out to all who may be willing to forgive us as we work through an internal acknowledgement of our faults and find a way forward that allows for true healing and repair. For some, the break may be irreparable. We understand and wish you well regardless. We're going to do what we can to be better with the hope of building a better world on the other side of this."
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