Over the weekend, Peloton found themselves getting negative responses and boycott threats due to a comment made by an instructor during a class. Peloton’s CEO ended up responding to negative comments on Facebook, and the ride was removed from the on-demand library. Some members saw the passage as a political statement, while others heard an offhand joke made not about politics, but instead a shared love for football with a rider that has been taken out of context.
During Jenn Sherman’s 60 minute Yacht Rock, Jenn was giving a long-time member, who happens to be a New England Patriots football fan, a shoutout for their 1000th ride. The NFL recently announced that the Patriots game originally scheduled to be played on Sunday would be delayed at least until Monday or Tuesday, due to some positive COVID-19 tests. Jenn made comments during the ride about how the member would likely be wearing their Patriots jersey while workout out, as they are that passionate of a fan. Jenn also played one of the riders favorite songs, and were remarking how they made sure to include this song just for them for their 1000th ride, to help make the day special, especially since they wouldn’t be able to see their favorite team play. Speaking about the song choice, and the lack of football, Jenn then said:
But I threw this in, because there’s no game today. I can handle coronavirus taking down the White House, but I cannot handle coronavirus taking down the NFL. OK? Now corona is starting to really, really mess with us.
Some members who heard the above statement heard a shared passion for football. Others took it instead to be a political statement – and took to Facebook and other channels to voice their displeasure. One rider went on to post an open letter to Peloton’s CEO John Foley on their Facebook page:
Open letter to John Foley:
It’s no secret that I have a strong love for the Peloton brand and have been a faithful customer for over the past five years. The bike has seen me through life’s ups and downs and was there for me when others were not. I’ve chatted with you at every Homecoming event and trust me, your cowboy boots were just one of the many highlights last Homecoming. I have always appreciated your love for the great state of Texas. I founded the [name of Peloton Facebook group redacted] and cherish the time we share together building community. The bike was even a catalyst for introducing me to a man I deeply cherish and hope to spend the rest of my life with.
This past month I have watched and heard the instructors voice their political views on your dollar. As a Journalism teacher, I would never voice my political views in the classroom. You have lost half your audience and not even sure you’re aware. Please listen to your audience. We want to be uplifted, encouraged and supported without a political agenda. I ride to get away from the media, the noise, the hidden agendas. I pray you will take these words to heart. There is nothing I want more than to login to a ride without concern that they will use your platform as their stage on your dollar while forgetting their job as an instructor.
Eventually John Foley saw the note, and responded directly to the user:
I am sorry you had to post this [name redacted]. You are right: We are better than this. I just forwarded your thoughts to our team. We will not allow our brand nor platform to become politicized. We want what you want [name redacted]: A place to escape from the madness and have a loving supportive community that is inclusive and not divisive. And a fun, effective, motivating and entertaining workout! Just like you say! At times we will speak out on issues that are important, butt we are working hard to stay away from direct politics as it has become so nasty and so divided and that tis the complete opposite of what we stand for at Peloton. Again, I’m bummed that you had to write this. But thank you. We will get better. I can assure you. Much love [name redacted]. Thank you for being you.
As a result of all of this, the ride was pulled from the on-demand library. It’s not clear what changes, if any, John Foley would want to see his team make to “get better”.