Kami and Ben Crawford, the influencer parents behind the popular family YouTube channel Fight For Together, are under fire after having their six-year-old son Rainier run a marathon with them and their other five children.
On social media, the notion of a kindergartener running a 26.2-mile race struck many as unconscionable, with some even accusing the Crawfords of child abuse.
It all began with a series of posts the Crawfords made on Instagram, like the one below in which they described their efforts to essentially bribe their son with Pringles to overcome his physical struggles to complete the marathon.
In their caption, the Crawfords wrote:
"On the marathon course, Rainier... was struggling physically and wanted to take a break and sit every three minutes."
"After 7 hours, we finally got to mile 20... He was crying and we were moving slow so I told him I'd buy him two sleeves [of Pringles] if he kept moving."
"I had to promise him another sleeve to get him in the family pic at the finish line."
The backlash was almost immediate from people who were disturbed by what the Crawfords described, with even bold names in the sport of running speaking out against the Crawfords decision, including two-time Olympic medalist runner Kara Goucher.
Stating what seemed to many should be obvious, Goucher wrote:
"I don't know who needs to hear this but a six year old cannot fathom what a marathon will do to them physically."
"A six year old does not understand what embracing misery is."
"A six year who is 'struggling physically' does not realize they have the right to stop and should."
Three-time Australian Olympic medalist Lee Troop also spoke out against the Crawfords.
During an appearance on Good Morning America, the Crawfords said they did not force Rainier to run the marathon and that it was Rainier's idea, despite what many felt their social media posts seemed to indicate.
Regardless, the uproar became so strong that the Crawfords say Child Protective Services visited their home unannounced and questioned their children on the basis of what they say are made-up accusations of abuse on social media.
The Crawfords excoriated both Goucher and Troop for ginning up the outrage and demanded they "take responsibility" for creating a "witch hunt" against them.
But on social media, it seemed very few people were on their side, with many convinced the Crawfords were using their son for social media clout.
For their part, the organizers of the Flying Pig marathon have defended their decision to allow Rainier to run the race, but said they will strictly enforce its 18+ age restriction going forward.