After airing the first episode of “Barstool Sports Van Talk,” ESPN canceled a partnership with Barstool Sports on Sept. 23. The network’s new show with the organization was supposed to be a conversion of one of its popular podcasts, “Pardon My Take,” which is notoriously known for its loud portrayal of sports news. Despite bringing acceptable content to the table, according to John Skipper, the ESPN president, ESPN canceled the show in an effort to distance itself from the controversial blog.
“I was surprised that ESPN partnered with [Barstool] in first place,” James Fisher, JV Basketball Coach. “ESPN tries to live up to the family expectations held by the swath of culturally conservative Americans. Barstool is popular so they probably saw it as a moneymaking opportunity.”
According to the New York Times, the criticism did not begin after the airing of “Barstool Sports Van Talk,” but after the original decision to air the converted podcast on ESPN ten days before. One of the notable criticisms were by Sam Ponder, the host of ESPN’s “Sunday N.F.L Countdown,” who denounced the blog for its sexist and misogynistic language and attitude. Ponder’s tweet consisted of screenshots of Barstool Sport’s boorish language toward women.
“She has all rights to speak up for herself,” said Yoon Lim (11). “She was being catcalled, objectified, and sexually harassed. She simply reported that to the masses, wanting to stand up for herself. As she says, ‘There is no need to feel sorry for me.’ Yes, its not sympathy she needs, but rather empathy, support, and an open mind. That is what we all need.”
Although many noted that Sam Ponder did have the right to comment on the issue, according to CNN, some criticized her tweets as unprofessional and opinionated. Others commented that there is a heavily blurred line between which comments commentators like Sam Ponder are allowed to make or not especially regarding the cross-section of politics and sports.
“Sexism and misogyny exists within American culture,” Coach Fisher said. “Social media has given a voice and a platform for everyone to voice out their opinions. The voice [of the American conservative culture]is just more public now.”
Many commented that Sam Ponder’s case was just a result of the prevalence and rise in the popular opinion of misogyny in media and especially amongst fans of sports media. According to the Pew Research Center, one in four women from age 18 to 25 experienced online sexual harassment. While for many female sports journalists, according to the Guardian, a large number of them commonly face misogynistic comments everyday just for participating in the delivery of sports news.
“There are efforts to change it but when countries like the United States of America has a president who can put out misogynistic comments, the culture is not going to change itself quickly,” Coach Fisher said. “Maybe it is fair to say that Social media has a given a platform to say those horrible things but it also gave a platform for us to see it and give a chance for change.”