The CrossFit Games are trading gold medals for Glock metal.
The founder of the hugely popular competition, for which Reebok is the title sponsor, recently announced he would give away the pistols to the winners, referring to the plan as “glock for the podium.”
“The top male athlete, the top female athlete, and every member of the winning team will receive a GLOCK pistol,” Dave Castro, Director of the CrossFit Games and a former Navy SEAL, wrote in a posting on the Facebook page for the CrossFit Games, along with a flashy video highlighting the popular pistol.
The CrossFit Games began Tuesday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
People immediately expressed outrage over Castro’s announcement on social media and in comments on the post, saying that it was in poor taste given recent tragedies like the Orlando and Dallas massacres and spate of police-involved shootings.
“Crossfit needs to rethink its sponsorship and marketing strategies,” said one angry Facebook user in the comments section. “You’re a global brand. Take a minute to analyze our current gun situation in America and around the world before you sign these contracts. NO REP!”
Another said the announcement was horrible timing and that it simply glorifies gun use.
“This is infuriating,” posted the irate user. “We’re mourning the loss of our queer brothers and sisters in Orlando, Phil in Minneapolis and Alton in Baton Rouge, and police officers in Dallas.
“All were innocent lives taken from us by guns. If you don’t want to be part of the solution, fine, but don’t be part of the problem by glorifying weapons and violence. Guns shouldn’t a prize. They should be the very last resort.”
As of Friday, nearly 20,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the CrossFit Games cancel the Glock prize.
CrossFit is a branded fitness regimen that was created in 2000 and promoted as both a physical exercise philosophy and competitive fitness sport. CrossFit workouts incorporate elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and gymnastics. Each summer, championship games are held in California in which Cross Fitters from around the globe complete in Olympic-style events.
Castro, who was a SEAL for over a decade and a competitive shooter for the past six years, said that he has received as much positive response as negative.
“[M]ost are only focusing on the negative aspect of it,’ he told FoxNews.com. “Guns are legal in all 50 states and they are a normal part of life for millions of law abiding citizens. I am one of those and proud of it.”
The CrossFit Games director pointed out the organization has given out similar prizes in the past and even held events that combined CrossFit and competitive shooting. He added that winners of the competition will not be getting the actual pistols but rather a gift certificate to purchase one if they desire.
“Since I am an avid shooter, I have friends at some of the major shooting companies, he said. “One of them said Glock would be interested in giving guns to the winners of the Games. I said absolutely. We have gifted guns at the Games before, this is not a first.”
But former CrossFit employees told FoxNews.com that there may be more beneath the surface in the recent promotion and that it could be just a publicity stunt.
“It’s an aggressive move to disrupt the system in its current state,” said a former contractor who worked with CrossFit and asked to speak on condition of anonymity.
“It’s always been about getting the extreme reaction and because CrossFit is so closely tied to military and SOF [Special Operations Forces] groups, this creates a bit of a safety blanket.
“Handing out guns is nothing more than a ‘look at us’ move. It’s in poor taste, and being a gun owner and someone who works closely with these same groups handing out guns as prizes is nothing more than a way of creating attention.”
Officials for the lead sponsor of the Games, Reebok, told FoxNews.com in a statement that while they do not agree with the decision, it’s out of their control.
“As the title sponsor of the Games, we unfortunately do not have input regarding other partners or promotions,” the spokesperson said in a written statement.
“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.”
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at@perrych