[Editor's Note: This story was corrected with a note that the Reebok agreement with CrossFit expires on Dec. 31 instead of this fall.]
Reebok is ending its discussions to renew its sponsorship of the CrossFit Games once its current 10-year contract expires on Dec. 31, the company announced. The move came after CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman posted a tweet that many interpreted as insensitive in reply to a June 4 tweet from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation stating, “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response, wherever they occur.”
Glassman replied to that tweet with his own: “It’s FLOYD-19.”
George Floyd is the name of the black man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25 was captured on cell phone, leading to protests around the world about police treatment of black people.
That tweet spurred outrage by some people on Twitter.
Glassman followed up later in the thread with this tweet: “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is ‘accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.’ Thanks!”
Footwear News then broke that Reebok was not going to continue discussions on renewing its 10-year contract with CrossFit to sponsor the CrossFit Games. That contract comes to an end this fall, according to Reebok.
Reebok shared this statement with Club Industry:
“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. We will fulfill our remaining contractual obligations in 2020. We owe this to the CrossFit Games competitors, fans and the community.
What doesn’t change is our commitment and dedication to CrossFitters and the passionate CrossFit community. We’re so thankful for the strong bonds we’ve created with coaches, box owners and athletes around the world over the past 10 years. We want to especially thank Dave Castro, Nicole Carroll, Andy Stumpf, Steve Weiss and Jimi Letchford, who were instrumental in ensuring Reebok was welcomed by the community, so that we could do our part to help more people improve their lives through fitness.”
Some affiliates of the brand also are ending their relationship with CrossFit, according to statements on social media accounts of some affiliates.
At 8:27 p.m. Eastern on June 7, Glassman apologized on CrossFit’s Twitter account, stating:
“I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. 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.
“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.
“It’s our hope that his murder catalyzes real change resulting in a level playing field for our black brothers and sisters.
“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.”
The Reebok contract gave Reebok exclusivity in making CrossFit clothes and shoes.
As stated by Morning Chalk Up, a daily newsletter covering CrossFit: “Reebok’s exodus puts future CrossFit Games in jeopardy. On top of the multi-million dollar prize purse Reebok contributes each year, the royalty payments from licensing the CrossFit trademark amount to millions for CrossFit. On top of putting pressure on other brands and sponsors to distance themselves from the brand, this will make it harder to find a replacement sponsor for future Games.”
Club Industry has reached out to CrossFit for further comment and will update this story if a response is received.