“Welcome to the gun show” will apply to this year’s CrossFit Games competition in more ways than one.
The hugely popular fitness company announced last Wednesday in a Facebook post that the winners will each receive a handgun from GLOCK. “CrossFit Games: Glock For the Podium,” David Castro, the Director of CrossFit Games, wrote in the post. “The top male athlete, the Top female athlete, and every member of the winning team will receive a GLOCK pistol.”
The prize comes in addition to the $275,000 grand prize for each individual winner and the $70,000 grand prize for each winning team. Castro also told Fox News that the winners will receive a gift certificate to purchase a GLOCK pistol rather than an actual pistol. Winners can choose whether or not to use the gift certificate, and firearms will not be handed out at the awards ceremony.
But that didn’t stop the mainstream media – fueled by Reebok and a small minority of CrossFit members – from blowing Castro’s decision entirely out of proportion.
USA Today, for example, said that the move “sparked outrage” and cited a statement from Reebok—CrossFit’s title sponsor—in which they “do not agree with this decision, particularly in light of current events in the United States.”
But Reebok’s statement also says that the company “understand[s] CrossFit’s foundations are tied to military and first responders” like Castro, who is a former Navy SEAL. Reebok clearly disagrees with CrossFit’s move, but they hardly seem “outraged.”
The USA Today article then moves to focus on CrossFit members who do not believe guns should be given as prizes at the Games. One member—Australian Daniel Bartels—even started a petition to speak out against Castro’s decision.
“CrossFit Inc would not form partnerships with fast food restaurants, alcohol companies, cigarette or pharmaceutical companies on the same basis. But a gun manufacturer is deemed as a good partner… this is not us,” Bartels says. “CrossFit is for health, fitness and the well being of the [sic] all people in all communities. This is not CrossFit. This should never be CrossFit.”
Bartels sounds outraged, all right, and it isn’t hard to find similar statements on Facebook and the petition website.
But as of 9:30 a.m. CT, the petition has only garnered 21,500 signatures. That’s only 4,500 signatures in the past five days, and a small fraction of the total number of CrossFit members.
While CrossFit doesn’t publish numbers on worldwide membership, they do state on their website that they have 13,000 affiliates around the globe. Some affiliates have over 1,000 members, but even estimating an average of 100 members per affiliate yields a total CrossFit membership of 1.3 million. A 200 members-per-gym estimate puts that total well over 2 million.
This means that right now a solid 1.7% of CrossFit members are “outraged” at Castro’s decision. Many more—including, according to the LA Times, top competitor Matthew Fraser—have voiced their support. Even on the Facebook post itself, more than twice as many users have reacted positively (“like” or “love) than negatively (“anger”).
Considering the actual numbers, Castro’s statement to the LA Times seems like the most rational position he could take: “There has also been tremendous support. If I were to make all of my decisions based off of backlash, everything I have done around the CrossFit Games would have been butchered, altered and changed multiple times over,” he said. “As long as guns are legal in the U.S. based off of our constitutional right, nothing is changing.”