CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman apologized for an insensitive tweet about George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police, saying that he "made a mistake by the words I chose." That was too little too late for sports gear maker Reebok, which said over the weekend it's ending a partnership with CrossFit following the tweet, while some gyms said they would end their affiliation with the workout brand.
The issue started on Saturday when the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center, tweeted, "Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response," along with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Glassman responded: "It's Floyd-19."
In another tweet, Glassman added, "Your failed model quarantined us and now you're going to model a solution to racism?"
His tweets sparked a backlash on social media, with Twitter users writing that they found his remarks "divisive" and "unacceptable." Michael Muscato, who owns a CrossFit gym and is running for U.S. Congress, wrote on Twitter that Glassman's comments were "tone deaf" and "pathetic," and urged Glassman to step down as CEO.
Glassman's comment comes as protesters across the nation rally for an end to systemic racism and police brutality. Many corporations and businesses are pledging to invest in programs boosting racial and social equality, while also voicing support for the protesters.
After Glassman's responses to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, some consumers expressed their disappointment on social media and said they wouldn't patronize a CrossFit gym.
Reebok said in a statement emailed Monday to CBS MoneyWatch that it is ending its relationship with CrossFit.
"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 the statement.
Glassman apologized for the tweet on Sunday night.
"I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism," he wrote. "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."
He added that he was "incredulous, angry, and overly emotional" at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "I was trying to stick it to the @IHME_UW for their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown," he wrote. "Involving George Floyd's name in that effort was wrong."
Gym co-owner Nick Hurndon wrote on Twitter that he sent a letter to CrossFit ending affiliation with the brand. The company's response to systemic racism and police brutality "is completely unacceptable," the letter said.