The Hill Kansas City will disaffiliate.
I made the decision late Friday night to remove The Hill’s affiliation with CrossFit HQ. Upon investigation I learned that Greg Glassman’s comments were not an isolated or misunderstood incident. Reputable and first-person accounts have confirmed that Greg’s character flaws infiltrated the organization at the highest level. I hope that the removal of our affiliation is a small signal that unethical behavior is intolerable.
I won’t go into the details of Greg’s comments or conduct. I find it reprehensible but encourage you to come to your own conclusions.
Have I supported this behavior?
Many members of CrossFit affiliates worldwide are asking themselves “by being a CrossFit member have I supported this type of behavior?”
I’m here to tell you unequivocally no.
We will be forced to reconcile an uncomfortable reality we’ve known throughout history. That sometimes people with poor moral character sometimes pave a path to tremendous good. It’s a messy truth. But it’s a truth nonetheless.
This is true for Greg. I was drawn to CrossFit for two reasons: 1. The methodology is more efficient, effective, and elegant than anything I’ve seen in 16 year of coaching. 2. The affiliation model provided a level of freedom unmatched by any other program.
So, no. You weren’t supporting Greg. The percentage of your membership that found it’s way to CFHQ was much less than 1%. But, now, that’s too much.
Prior to opening The Hill I worked as a disability advocate for a local nonprofit. I got a lot of pats on the back for having a nice job title that made me feel nice about doing good in the world. But I was unsatisfied. Not by the work, but by the handcuffs of bureaucracy, grants, and politics. My life’s work has always been to help people live long, full lives. I realized that CrossFit would help more people stay out of nursing homes than any of the political advocacy work I was doing at the time.
In the last 8 years of running The Hill, I’ve given away 10 times more cash benefit to people with disabilities than I did working in disability advocacy. I’ve had 500 conversations about how CrossFit has helped people feel proud of what their body can do and less worried about how it looks. Dozens of conversations about how CrossFit has been integral in one’s recovery. CrossFit helps manage depression for thousands of people, including myself. Countless future generations have benefitted from one person stepping through the doors of an affiliate, ready to take control of their health.
This is what you have supported. You have provided haven to hurting people. You have provided jobs. You have helped at least one special ed teacher afford food and supplies for her classroom.
The class you take will no longer be called CrossFit. But we’re still CrossFitters. That identity cannot be taken away by one clown. A CrossFitter is someone who chooses the difficult path; someone who completes all 15 reps in the second round of Fran. A CrossFitter doesn’t hit snooze for the 6am class. We’re resilient, loving, and we’re willing to set out ego aside.
Will you ever re-affiliate?
As of right now, there will need to be sweeping changes within the organization in order for me to reconcile with CFHQ. The first of those is 100% divestiture of Greg’s stake in the company. In addition to that I would like to see the affiliate community have a greater voice and more transparency at the corporate level.
I feel as betrayed and confused as you. But I also feel strangely amazed at how much good the affiliate model has created in this world. I would venture to say that no single organization has given rise to more charitable activity than CrossFit. Of the 1,500 or so affiliate owners I’ve known personally through the years, there is not a single one whose business model does not contain some type of community service program. I struggle to name another organization with such a strong track record for service. But this activity occurred at the affiliate level, not from above. We’re stronger together and I hope to join forces again one day.
In the meantime, let’s unify. Let’s band together and do the hard work. Let’s stop casting stones. We all want unity, equality, and a better world for the next generation. Let’s start acting like it.