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April 1, 2017

CrossFit Group Barred Entry to Local Bar, Plan Legal Action

Written by William Imbo

A group of CrossFit athletes from the affiliate, AF Fitness, claim to have been denied access to a local bar in Miami, FL. The incident occurred last night at the popular sports bar, Fool’s Gold, in downtown Miami. Jason Thompson, a CrossFitter who tried to enter the bar, spoke to BoxLife regarding the incident.

“We had just finished up a WOD (workout of the day) and, since it’s the end of the Open (a competition that acts as the first qualifying stage for the CrossFit Games), we all wanted to celebrate,” says Thompson, who’s been a CrossFit athlete for five years and a member of AF Fitness for three. “So we get to Fool’s Gold, where I’ve gone with other friends many times before. Except this time me and the other CrossFitters get stopped at the door, and the bouncer tells us to wait. So he goes and brings the manager out, who tells us that he can’t let us in.”

After a heated argument between the CrossFit group and the bar manager, Thompson says they were refused entry and told to leave as the bar had a strict policy against serving CrossFitters.

“We couldn’t believe it. The manager was saying that he didn’t want us aggravating other patrons at the bar by ‘incessantly using CrossFit terminology, taking our shirts off or trying to perform one-legged squats and handstands.’ As if we would be that obnoxious.”

Thompson explains that the bar manager has had to deal with CrossFit athletes from another affiliate on numerous occasions, and so decided to implement a “no-CrossFitters” policy.

“I just don’t get it. Isn’t this America? Don’t we have freedom of speech and assembly? We should be entitled to enter that bar, just like any other paying customer—regardless of whether we do CrossFit or not.”

While the AF CrossFitters do have the rights to free speech and assembly under the first amendment protections, private businesses do not really fall under first amendment protections. However, Fool’s Gold is owned by the city of Miami. As such, the CrossFitters are pursuing legal action under the Equal Protection clause  of the 14th amendment of the constitution. The Equal protection clause says that a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. The issue is that “CrossFitters” are not a protected class under the 14th amendment. Protected classes include – Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex, Pregnancy, Citizenship, Familial Status, Disability Status and Veteran Status.

But Thompson and the AF group are seeking protection as they identify themselves as CrossFitters and want to be considered as such under the 14th amendment.

Legal expert David Lopez says that for any suit from the AF group to be successful, they would have to claim that the bar has no legitimate business interest in denying CrossFitters access to the bar but allowing globo-gym patrons entry.

“It’s likely that the bar will claim that CrossFitters are not a protected class, and they feel that there is a legitimate business interest in denying access to CrossFitters for whatever reason. Perhaps they feel that they could drink too much and end up doing burpees on the bar or handstand walking competitions, which could lead to damage to the property or other customers.”

When asked about the pending suit, Fool’s Gold was unavailable for comment.

Thompson says that he and his fellow athletes from AF Fitness will be pursuing the suit “for the good of CrossFitters everywhere”, even though today is April Fool’s and the people following this story will now realize there isn’t much point in getting too animated about it.

About William Imbo

William Imbo is an Associate Editor at BoxLife magazine, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and holds an MPS in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University. He is an avid CrossFitter and loves film, music and travel, thanks to having grown up across Europe. A fan of the New Orleans Saints and Newcastle United, Will's favorite CrossFit girl is Helen-least favorite being Isabel.

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