2016 CrossFit Games becomes controversial when director announces handguns as first place prize

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The Reebok CrossFit Games are set to go ahead in California this week but ahead of the competition comes a piece of controversial news: in addition to substantial monetary prizes, the winners are being awarded with handguns.

This news came out last week when the CrossFit Games posted a video promoting Glock handguns on their Facebook page saying that in addition to prize money, the top male and female at the games would be awarded with their own gun. This prize is being given out in addition to the US $2 million prize purse. The competition is being held in California from July 19 to the 24.

The prize though is something that many are outraged over. In fact, after this was announced by director Dave Castro, many in the CrossFit community— nearly 21,000– started a Change.org petition to get organizers of the event to change the prize. They claim that rewarding athletes with the handgun goes against what CrossFit is about. To add to that, they believe that this will give those who identify as crossfitters a bad reputation, they say.


They aren’t the only one who have a problem with the first place award. Reebok is the title sponsor of the event and after the news came out, they released a statement which has been quoted by several American media outlets. The brand states that they do not support this decision and that they have nothing to do with the prizes chosen. In their statement to media, Reebok said the following:

“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.”

ESPN, the broadcaster of the event also dismissed the decision saying to Sportingnews.com that they have no power over which prizes are given the the competitors.

Many others, particularly in the media and in the Twitter storm that followed the announcement, have been critical of the CrossFit Games for this decision. Comments and headlines that have used terms like “tone deaf” and “living under a rock” are in reference to increased instances of gun violence in the U.S. with the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub that killed 50 in Orlando this summer being one of the most recent gun scares to have made headlines.

And may could also argue that this idea is turning the sport into an American-only event as gun usage in other countries is much more regulated. It is also dwarfed by that of the U.S. (For example, The New York Times recently reported that being killed by gun homicide in Canada is as likely as dying from alcohol poisoning in the U.S.) Despite the criticism though, director of the event, Dave Castro, stands by the CrossFit Games’ prizing choice.

“I am one of millions of people in the U.S. who own guns for recreational and legal purposes. I compete in competitive shooting events, and I have a lot of friends in the shooting industry. Glock offered up pistols as prizes, I agreed to it,” said Castro to the LA Times on Friday.

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A photo posted by @thedavecastro on