CrossFit today fired Russell Berger, the company’s Chief Knowledge Officer, whose series of homophobic tweets caused a firestorm of protest.
“The statements made today by Russell Berger do not reflect the views of CrossFit Inc. For this reason, his employment with CrossFit has been terminated,” the company said in a statement on Twitter.
CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman was more blunt in an interview with Buzzfeed:
“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” Glassman said in an interview. “We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”
Berger tweeted these three posts (later deleted) defending the owner of an Indianapolis CrossFit gym who canceled a Pride event there saying being gay detracted from God’s plan for health.
CrossFit at first suspended Berger but fired him later in the day, with Glassman tweeting: “I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”
CrossFit is popular in the LGBTQ community, so Berger’s hateful comments were at odds with the company’s message that all are welcome. Anything less than his firing would have negated that message.
The reaction to the news of the firing showed the decision was welcome by many:
- From a gay CrossFit athelte I say thank you. CrossFit has been the reason I feel comfortable being who I am, and allowed me to feel safe in growing and expressing myself.
- As a gay man and a gay affiliate owner, I applaud your swift response to this unfortunate series of events. Let this be a learning moment for @BergerRussell. I’m sure he will have plenty of time to reflect
- Thank you. I love CrossFit because it’s all inclusive and your swift action is proof of this. @CrossFit and @CrossFitCEO you’re showing the world how we’re supposed to treat bigotry. ️
- Thank you for not allowing hatred and bigotry to flourish in your organization. From one cross fitter to another, I thank you! ❤️
- Thank you for taking swift action and standing with the LGBTQ community.
- Thank you. I’ve always thought @CrossFit was a safe space. Thanks for confirming that.
Berger, who lives in Alabama and is a pastor at a local church, told Buzzfeed that while he regretted seeming to speak on behalf of CrossFit Inc., he stood by the views he tweeted.