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Behind the Scenes
richard-spencer-getty-770-1.jpg Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Georgetown University professor C. Christine Fair approached and criticized Richard Spencer while he was exercising. Shortly after, Spencer's gym membership was revoked.

White Nationalist Richard Spencer Loses Sport&Health Gym Membership After Confrontation

Despite Richard Spencer's unpopularity, this episode raises an interesting ethical question for club operators: Can a member's reputation outside the gym warrant a membership termination?

Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer lost his gym membership earlier this month after he was confronted by another member about his alt-right ideology.

If you're unfamiliar with Spencer, he is the president of white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute and gained notoriety during last year's election season for his extreme views, including propensities for Nazism and "peaceful ethnic cleansing."

Outside a loyal but cult following, Spencer is not surprisingly unpopular among the American public. This includes Georgetown University professor C. Christine Fair, who recognized and approached Spencer while he was exercising at Old Town Sport&Health, Alexandria, Virginia, on May 17.

When Fair asked Spencer if he was indeed Richard Spencer, he denied his identity, according to a Washington Post report.

“I said, ‘Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi,’” Fair relayed to the Post. “I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap — that this country belongs [to people like you]. . . . As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable.”

Spencer told BuzzFeed he denied his identity because he "wanted [Fair] to go away." When she would not relent, he complained to a staff member who eventually asked Fair to leave the gym.

Shortly after the episode, Spencer received a membership termination notice from the gym, which he provided to BuzzFeed. He said that he believes the gym wanted to avoid any possibility of "negative publicity."

"I don't know [why they revoked it]," Spencer said, while noting that he may consider taking action against the gym. "I was a well-behaved member of this gym. I did not cause any controversy."

Sport&Health is currently not commenting on the matter.

Although few people may offer their sympathies to Spencer, this episode raises an interesting ethical question for health club operators: Can a member's reputation outside a gym warrant a membership termination? If so, ought potential members be more thoroughly vetted before joining a club?

Had the Fair-Spencer confrontation played out in your facility, how would you have handled the situation? Leave a comment on this article, or connect with us on Facebook, on Twitter @clubindustry or LinkedIn.

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