The PR fallout from CrossFit, Inc.’s founder and chief executive’s insensitive remarks on Twitter has fueled a mass exodus from brands, sponsors, athletes and its network of gym affiliates.
Founder and chief executive Greg Glassman has since resigned but the business implications of his indiscretions are vast and ominous.
Reebok ended its 10-year exclusive deal as title sponsor of the CrossFit Games. Rogue Fitness and FitAid have also denounced Glassman’s comments and have either ended or are considering ending their sponsorship.
Many high-level CrossFit athletes are boycotting this year’s CrossFit Games, the Super Bowl of fitness competitions owned by CrossFit, and over 1,000 gyms have disaffiliated from the brand.
CrossFit is reeling from these events and on June 9 posted a letter to create separation between the company and its founder – which is tenuous since he still owns the company despite his resignation. The timing of the letter was a bit late, but represents the first step toward fostering a culture of equality and diversity among a community that is extremely loyal to the movement of fitness.
Many brands have experienced PR calamities over the years. It will be interesting to see if CrossFit can recover from the backlash of their founder.