Yesterday the owners of a CrossFit gym in Indiana cancelled a planned Pride workout over its owners’ religious beliefs. In response, the official CrossFit account made a vague tweet in support of its LGBTQ members. But apparently Russell Berger, who claims to be CrossFit’s “Chief Knowledge Officer,” didn’t get the memo. He tweeted in support of the homophobic CrossFit owners and promptly found himself being put on unpaid leave from the company.
The kerfuffle started when coaches at the CrossFit Infiltrate gym in Indianapolis, Indiana, planned a special event to support Indy Pride. But when the owners of the gym found out about the Pride workout, they promptly cancelled it.
When asked to explain why the event was cancelled, the owners clarified they believe “Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships and the spirit. At the foundational detractor from health, as we believe God sets the parameters for, is pride. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride.”
The backlash was immediate; many members cancelled their memberships, and many coaches and staff quit. Unable to remain open with its staff and coaches gone, CrossFit Infiltrate shut down.
The parent CrossFit organization then tweeted in support of the LGBT community:
“I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 6, 2018
While the CEO is “crazy proud of the gay community,” employee Russell Berger wasn’t. In a series of now-deleted tweets, he stood in support of the CrossFit Infiltrate owners:
You’d think someone who claims to be the “Chief Knowledge Officer of CrossFit Inc.” would have the foresight to check what the official line was. But instead, he doubled down.
In fact, Berger’s response made clear that it was an objection to the LGBTQ community that the CrossFit Infiltrate owners had danced around, implying it was just the sin of “pride” (note the lowercase “p”) they objected to. Though a thin ruse, at least CrossFit Infiltrate pretended the opposite of capital-P Pride is humility, not shame.
Justice was swift, and this afternoon CrossFit’s official account tweeted that, effective immediately, Berger has been placed on unpaid leave.
UPDATE, 6:13 p.m. PST: CrossFit reached out to Hornet and claimed Berger “was not, and never has been an executive at CrossFit Inc. [as Hornet initially referred to him]. He is a ‘legal researcher.’ He was not and never has been ‘Chief Knowledge Officer.'” Still, it should be acknowledged that his Twitter account still claims “Chief Knowledge Officer, @CrossFit Inc.” as his title.
UPDATE, 6:15 PST: Berger has now claimed he’s been terminated.