Everything Wrong With CrossFit Giving Out Glocks As Prizes

Ever since CrossFit took the fitness world by storm a few years ago, people have commented on the hyper-masculinity of the sport. From images of heavily muscled men flipping giant tires, to memes equating CrossFit with masculinity and all other fitness with femininity (which is . . . bad?), the message is clear: Real men do CrossFit.

The reality of CrossFit is often in stark contrast with this imagery. One of the most appealing facets of CrossFit has been how accessible it can be. Everyday equipment, exercises you can adjust to your fitness level, and low cost have brought people from many different communities — including women, LGBT people, and people of color — into CrossFit gyms.

But the popular messaging of CrossFit as a temple of people with ripped bods eschewing carbs and lifting weights until they vomit or their bodies start failing them keeps as many people away from CrossFit as the much more accessible reality of CrossFit draws in.

And the disenfranchising impact that the popular imagery has had on CrossFit athletes who are female, queer, and people of color has just become far worse thanks to a decision by CrossFit Games director Dave Castro. Now, with the announcement that Glock Inc. will be sponsoring the CrossFit Games on ESPN and awarding winners with their own Glocks, we have the ultimate deadly combination — CrossFit and guns.

“What the fuck? Seriously.” Was the first reaction from Rocket CrossFit gym owner Alyssa Royse when she heard about the Glock sponsorship of CrossFit Games.

“I went on Dave Castro’s Instagram page, where he had posted the announcement and said, ‘What the fuck?’ — and he blocked me! I was absolutely horrified. We live in a time where people are being hunted; to give away guns as if they are carnival prizes shows a massive amount of disrespect for both the problem of gun violence and the issue of gun safety.”

Royse is well-known in the Seattle community for working to create an inclusive and diverse environment in her gym. In the wake of the Pulse nightclub shootings, the murders of black men by police, and the murders of police officers in Dallas, if there ever was a good time to see a major public event for your business tied to guns — this isn’t it.

Even though there are people of all genders in CrossFit, the combination of guns with the hyper-masculine CrossFit image raises a lot of red flags for those who are concerned with, or have survived, domestic violence and gun violence.

“The last time I saw a gun like that, it was pointed at my head while I was being violently raped,” Royse recalls angrily. For many people who have turned to fitness to help empower themselves after surviving abuse and violence, combining guns with CrossFit can be traumatic. “These guns are the opposite of strength, and the opposite of moving forward,” adds Royce.

“I spend most of my time in my gym trying to convince people that they are safe with me, that we are not like that,” Rouse explains, “The posters, the games — we are not like that.”

Mijo Lee, who is a queer woman of color and a member of Rocket CrossFit, feels betrayed and erased by this decision: “For people of color in particular, who are terrified and traumatized, it is confirmed that the CrossFit brand is not about us. Which I already felt, my lovely little gym notwithstanding.”

“For people who have survived or lost a loved one to gun violence, this ‘prize’ could be horrific,” she adds.

“If you couple [CrossFit Games director] Dave Castro with a gun, and add all those pictures of skinny blonde chicks with six-pack abs saying ‘What’s your excuse?’ then you have the perfect recipe to make nobody feel welcome in fitness. It’s disgusting,” says Royse.

Furthermore, because the CrossFit Games are hosted by ESPN, which is owned by Disney, the sponsorship of CrossFit Games opens up Glock, Inc. to a family audience that advertising laws have purposefully kept gun manufacturers away from. There are no guns in CrossFit competition, and to subject viewers to gun messaging that has nothing to do with the program they intend to watch is irresponsible of CrossFit Games, and, ultimately, ESPN if they allow the games to air with the Glock sponsorship.

For now, CrossFit lovers and gym owners are left hoping that The CrossFit Games will choose to represent and be sensitive to the needs of its truly diverse population.

“How can I reconcile my overall message that you are safe with me [in Rocket CrossFit] with ‘we’re giving out guns?’” Royse asks. “CrossFit gyms are not reflected or served by CrossFit Games anymore.”

One day, she says, she hopes that CrossFit Games will represent the sport that she sees when she opens the doors to her gym every day.


Lead image: flickr/anemptygun

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