Although Reebok is making a serious push to regain some of the cultural currency it lost to Nike and adidas over the years with strong partnerships with the likes of Kendrick Lamar as well as a a newer venture with Future, a lot of Reebok's focus in recent years has been on fitness trends and more so, their strong relationship with the CrossFit community where they have served as the title sponsor for the annual "CrossFit Games" since 2011.
In fact, Reebok's newest, highly-anticipated product involves J.J. Watt's signature shoe which releases at midnight tonight and is considered an alternative to Reebok's dedicated CrossFit shoe, the Nano, which is the only option for CrossFit games athletes due to their exclusive partnership - despite Nike's entrance into the realm with their Metcon.
CrossFit Games Director, Dave Castro, took to Instagram to announce that individual male and female winners of the CrossFit Games which take place in Carson, California between July 19-24, would receive Glock handguns as prizes in addition to a a $2.2 million USD prize purse.
While CrossFit certainly caters to a certain crowd and demographic, it seems wildly inappropriate timing for Reebok to allow such a giveaway to take place given the state of the world, police brutality against African American men in the United States, and countless mass shootings that have taken place in recent years across the world.
For example, When Omar Mateen burst into Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 and opened fire on the crowd, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others, he was carrying a Glock in addition to a semi-automatic .223-caliber Sig Sauer MCX.
When Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, shot and killed a Roanoke, Va., a television reporter and a cameraman with a handgun while they were reporting a story live, he used a Glock.
Dylann Roof, 21, who killed nine people with a pistol at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. used a a .45-caliber Glock.
As VICE noted, in a list of mass shootings between April 1999 and January 2013, a Glock was used in nine instances.
Reebok's biggest draw, Kendrick Lamar, has gone on record in the past as saying of his and his friend's evolutions as men, "I have to put that same type of influence on my lil brothers, on the lil homies in the neighborhood," he said. "We tend to act in violence all the time, and that's just something we were brought up to do. Now that I'm more mature, I [can show] them other avenues to go about handling themselves: Being knowledgeable and jumping into a book rather than reaching for a pistol and reacting that way."
As of writing, a Change.org petition currently has over 8,500 signatures calling for Reebok and CrossFit to do away with the Glock giveaway.
Organizers have written, "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."
It remains to be seen how this all plays out.
UPDATE: Reebok's response to the controversy.
Our support of CrossFit, and the CrossFit Games, is based on a shared belief in the power of fitness and community to improve health and wellness while empowering people to be better inside and outside the gym.
As the title sponsor of the Games, we unfortunately do not have input regarding other partners or promotions. While we understand CrossFit's foundations are tied to military and first responders, we do not agree with this decision, particularly in light of current events in the United States.
Reebok's involvement with CrossFit focuses on the CrossFit community and the unique characteristics of the workouts to improve people's lives and bring people together.