Affiliate Owners Split on Disaffiliation

June 9, 2020 by
Courtesy of CrossFit H-Town

We reported on Sunday that more than 100 CrossFit affiliates and counting (Editor’s note: that number has exceeded 1000 now) have decided to disaffiliate from CrossFit after founder and CEO Greg Glassman’s recent email to a nine-year affiliate owner and controversial tweets.

Some of the affiliates making this choice are well-known, such as CrossFit Park City in Park City, UT, owned by eight-time CrossFit Games athlete Chris Spealler, and CrossFit Linchpin in Tacoma, WA, owned by Pat Sherwood, CrossFit media personality and long-time member of CrossFit HQ seminar staff. As well as Jason Khalipa’s NCFit and Ben Bergeron’s CrossFit New England.

Not all are on board the disaffiliation train, though: While the outrage among the affiliate community has been very loud, the decision to disaffiliate is far from a consensus.

On Sunday, Theo Tsekouras, the owner of H-Town CrossFit in Houston, Texas, posed the question — Who is planning on disaffiliating? — in the CrossFit Affiliate Owners’ Only Facebook group. Twelve hours later, by the time the post had reached 160 comments, this lack of consensus became apparent.

Through the ensuing conversation, just 10 affiliate owners in the thread proclaimed they planned to or had already disaffiliated, from CrossFit, while 18 were a hard no.

  • “For everyone (who)  has announced they are (disaffiliating), have you thought of the other employees at HQ? Have you thought of what certifications you will get to keep your insurance? Have you thought of all the work people besides Greg Glassman have put into the brand? Maybe we should put our energy into getting Greg out, not throwing away everything so many people (including us affiliate owners) have worked so hard to build,” wrote Eric Fasciani, the owner of CrossFit Nashua and CrossFit Souhegan, both in NH.
  • “Nope. No way. CrossFit has changed my life and the lives of many others. It’s way bigger than one man,” wrote Geoff Kesler, the owner of Crossfit Owasso in OK about why he’s not disaffiliating.
  • “Nope. All these knee jerk reactions are silly. No one even understands what (Glassman) meant,” added Joey Scafidi, the owner of CrossFit Committed in Prague in the Czech Republic.  
  • “No. But that doesn’t mean I like what Greg said. We feel CrossFit is so much bigger than him. We are calling for him to step down,” said Sally Duren, the owner of CrossFit Baile in Carthage, NC.

Duren later added to Morning Chalk Up: “The people, the community, and the affiliates largely do not stand with his statement. We aren’t naive enough to think there won’t be a lasting impact, but we are looking to support our people as best as we can in these hard days…The community will rise.”

Those in the middle: Still, another group of owners, 22 of them, said they aren’t prepared to make a decision yet.

  • “Remember everyone there are a lot of amazing people that still work for the company. I’m gonna see what happens before I make any decision even though I strongly disagree with Greg’s actions lately,” wrote Steven Bowser, the owner of Broward CrossFit in Davie, FL.
  • “I’m going to wait and see how they respond to the backlash,” added Henry Huang, the owner of CrossFit Perception in Mesa, AZ.
  • “I’m too emotional right now to make a rational decision. I’ll give things time to play out and then decide the best course of action,” offered Joe Morrone, the owner of Converse CrossFit in Converse, Texas.

Broad disagreement: Disaffiliating might be the quintessential final straw for the affiliate owner, but the schism between affiliates started long before Glassman’s tweets. Since George Floyd’s murder, opinions have been polarized over:

  • whether or not affiliates should take a public stand in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder
  • what to do to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and whether it’s even necessary for their businesses to say or do anything
  • opinions on CrossFit HQ’s initial silence
  • whether or not they were offended by Greg Glassman’s recent tweets

The latest divide: Was Greg Glassman’s apology enough?

Later on Sunday, Glassman apologized, tweeting “I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday.”

Screenshot of apology

On one end of the spectrum: “It feels like we are in an abusive relationship and we are willing to let the abuser back with the weakest of apologies,” wrote one affiliate owner in the forum.

  • “Not enough. Justice is demanded and a minor apology is not sufficient,” wrote another.

On the other end of the spectrum: “This isn’t enough? Move on. I’m guessing by the outrage that nobody in this group has ever said something they shouldn’t have. Right,” wrote another owner.

  • “I am sure we are all guilty of saying things in the heat of the moment. That is where grace comes in. We can forgive the offender for the offense,” offered another.

Bottom line: The affiliate community is divided and angry. This has caused Tyler Martin, the owner of Teton CrossFit in Rexburg, ID to urge affiliates not to let this tear the community apart.

  • “Stop fighting with each other. We are getting caught up in so many little battles that we are losing focus on the big picture…I bet that everybody in this group wants the best for humanity,” said Martin.
  • He added: “Different beliefs are what actually make us strong. We are stronger together. But, only when we are together. Let’s put aside our petty differences and make this world a better place by doing something instead of arguing what is the best.”

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