By Ryan Humphries
CrossFit, the exercise program made famous by people throwing up after seeing who could work out the fastest, came under fire this week.
Greg Glassman, longtime CEO but apparently first time social media user, attempted to use humor (not his strong suit) in response to a tweet made by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The IHME tweeted that “Racism is a public health issue”, to which Glassman responded, “It's FLOYD-19.”
So what did he mean by that?
Did he mean that racism is a serious issue, and just like COVID-19 we waited way too long to address it?
Regardless of what he MIGHT have meant, that tweet created an absolute shit storm.
The tweet came just days after an email exchange between Glassman and one of his affiliates. The email from the affiliate was in some ways an accusation (not really, but sort of) that CrossFit and Glassman of being complicit in our current social situation by not making a statement about George Floyd and the BLM movement. Glassman promptly responded to the email where he called the affiliate owner “delusional” and finished with “I’m ashamed of you”. In the CrossFit community, this ruffled a feather or two….hundred.
So what did he mean? Glassman claimed that he was so furious over the IHME’s sorry excuse of a response to COVID-19, that when he saw that they wanted to implement a system that they thought could fix racism he lost his shit and made the tweet. Essentially, he was saying that their jacked up handling of COVID-19 locked us up in quarantine, screwed the economy, and put millions of people out of work. Now they want to take a crack at fixing racism?
CrossFit, although predominately white, has always been a very progressive organization. In fact, not long ago one of their top dogs made an anti-LBGTQ statement and was immediately fired. At the time of his firing, Glassman even released a statement that he was “Crazy proud of the gay CrossFit community”.
As far as his tweet is concerned, Glassman tried to explain himself (via the twitter machine again) with this follow up: "I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist, but a mistake" it may have been 'too little, too late'.
The damage had been done.
As of June 7th, metrics on a CrossFit affiliate Facebook page showed that over 200 affiliates around the globe will be terminating their ties with CrossFit after this debacle. Some of whom will even be making a statement and taking their $3,000 yearly dues and donating it to the BLM movement.
It’s incidents like this that make it very challenging when aligning with someone else’s brand. For the affiliates that have decided to denounce CrossFit, this could be a great opportunity. They say you're the average of the five people you associate with the most. That goes for business relationships as well as personal.
If you've ever wanted to affiliate or franchise, or even partner up with another company, just make sure that you are in 100% agreement with everything that company stands for. If you’re not, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a tweet, and cleaning up someone else's mess.
As you may or may not know, over the years we've been affiliated with several brands (including CrossFit). Also, we have been building our own brand since day one. The more we developed our own identity, the more we realized that staying affiliated with other fitness systems didn't make much sense.
Let this be a lesson not only in doing the right thing because its the right thing to do, but also to think before you tweet.
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