CrossFit Inc. has posted an open letter on its website titled “Why Didn’t CrossFit Just Say Something?” hours after the resignation of its CEO. The letter apologises for tweets from its former CEO and to the black community for not speaking up sooner about the ongoing protests over systemic racism, writing: “We disappointed you. It hurt you and us. We need to talk.”
The company has been embroiled in controversy since Saturday, when the now-former CEO Greg Glassman tweeted “It’s FLOYD-19”, linking George Floyd and the coronavirus, in response to a tweet from the Institution for Health Metrics and Evaluation about racism and public health.
The post was followed by an explanation from Glassman: “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!”
There was an immediate backlash as sponsors, athletes and gyms withdrew from CrossFit or threatened to do so unless there was a change in leadership. Glassman’s “pathetic” apology that insisted his original tweet was “not racist” did little to stem the tide.
On Tuesday US time, Glassman stood down from his role and was replaced by Dave Castro. But hours after his resignation, a recording of a Zoom call was released with Glassman saying: “We’re not mourning for George Floyd. I don’t think me or any of my staff are. Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do? Other than that, give me another reason.”
In the letter, written on behalf of CrossFit Headquarters and all its “independent thinkers who come from all walks of life”, it said: “The CrossFit community is in need of peace. This year has put unrelenting pressure on us all, exposed unaddressed flaws, and been near unbearable for many.
“Change is needed. We all need healing. Exhaustion and a long history of silent grievances have been laid bare on social media. We cannot change what has happened, but we ask for forgiveness while we thoroughly examine ourselves.”
Under the subheading “Why did Greg say that”, they explained that although Glassman’s commitment to CrossFit is passionate, it does not excuse his “insensitive and hurtful” tweet.
“Please accept our deepest apology for contributing to the pain and confusion permeating our community – a community we love and respect for its vibrancy, strength of spirit, and diversity,” they wrote.
.@CrossFitCEO: "I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday.— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 8, 2020
My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.
Under the next subheading “The community”, the letter said in the past they had failed to communicate with CrossFitters in a timely manner.
“This time we asked for too much patience from our community. And recently, when the world was already under incredible pressure, we were not there for you online. We were not there for you in our communications.”
Next, under “We publish the truth”, the letter said they prided themselves on authenticity but “we got it wrong by failing to tell you we really care about black people and support the need for real change”.
They admitted they were unsure how to phrase a message of support for the black community and ultimately came up short: “We are sorry.”
Then, under “The truth”, the letter said: “The black community is hurting around the globe. The community called upon us to speak, and we improperly answered. That was a mistake. We heard you and got in our own way while trying to figure out how to convey our message truthfully without following a trend, shaming, or creating division.”
The next subheading read “We support diversity and inclusion”, where they wrote at length about tackling social justice issues.
They added: “Greg believes in equality. Greg made a mistake. His communications will have to be reconciled with the person we know.
“He is being put on trial online and we challenge you to be thorough in your review of a man who is imperfect but sincere in his love of helping others to become better while creating opportunities for others to do the same.
“He does make mistakes, but he has done more than anyone for this community and created unimagined opportunities for others. If you measure Greg Glassman, do it thoroughly.
“But none of this has any bearing on the need for reform, reconciliation, and change.”
Next, under “Why were we silent?”, the letter said that not all staff see eye-to-eye on every issue: “[We] struggled to speak to the black community because we overly complicated the need to care and respond.”
The letter went on under “The black community is strong” to say “we support the black police officer who upholds justice, like retired officer David Dorn [fatally shot during a Black Lives Matter march], as strongly as we cannot stand for the injustice George Floyd faced two weeks ago. Both truths are possible”.
The rest of the letter discussed how to speak effectively outside the fitness world, the power of social media and that the CrossFit community is united against racism.
Finally, they added a long apology, including: “This is the message we should have sent to the community we love. We know we are too late, but here we stand.”