Barstool Sports: Canceling the ‘uncancelable’

Barstool Sports Logo

Barstool Sports Logo

Parents: does your son have a “Saturdays are for the Boys” flag hanging in his room or your basement? Does your daughter get her pop culture news from “The Groupchat” on Snapchat or listen to “Chicks in the Office”? Does your child follow an Instagram account for their future college that posts students slamming beers against their foreheads or jumping off of roofs? If so, they’re most likely supporting entities of Barstool Sports. And your kids are part of the problem. 

Barstool Sports, which identifies as a digital media company centered around sports and pop culture, has been around for nearly two decades, each year becoming more controversial than the last. Despite many scandals involving racism, sexism, body-shaming and more, the company brings in about $100 million in revenue each year. 

Instead of taking accountability for their actions, the company and its fandom go after critics. Two girls, like us, criticizing Barstool will likely face more backlash than Barstool ever will. 

Founder of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, said himself that he is “uncancelable.” In a tweet from @stoolpresidente in June 2020, Portnoy wrote, “Memo to the cancel cops. You don’t cancel me. I cancel you.”

Unfortunately, this is true. In recent years, videos, posts and interviews have resurfaced of Portnoy making offensive and racist remarks. For example, in a podcast segment in 2016, Portnoy said that when he saw photos of Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem he assumed it was because he was an “ISIS guy” due to his appearance and actions. In 2010 he tweeted, “I don’t condone rape, but if you’re a size 6 and wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped.” 

When he apologizes, which is rare, Portnoy typically uses humor as an excuse and paints his critics as overly-sensitive complainers. The reason the founder recovers with such ease after every scandal is because he doesn’t care. And no matter how hard people try, it’s impossible to cancel someone who knows that their cult-following of high schoolers and college kids will defend them no matter what. 

While Portnoy is problematic, he’s not the sole perpetrator. The company was built on the same misogyny, privilege and trolling that he and his employees project, and it’s reflected in their content. The company used to have blogs called “Guess that Ass” and “Guess that Rack.” On the podcast BFFs, 43-year-old Portnoy played a game with his co-host, 19-year-old TikToker Josh Richards, where they looked at photos of famous people and discussed whether or not they would sleep with them. 

One of the more popular podcasts that Barstool produces is Call Her Daddy, hosted by Alexandra Cooper, which candidly discusses sex and relationships. In a recent episode, Cooper discussed her college dating experience at Boston University and said, “There’s not that many hot girls at Harvard. All these people are ratchet.” This plays into the stereotype that women are either intelligent or attractive, but never both. Cooper refers to her listeners as “sluts” and “wiener holes,” further objectifying women. Since being acquired by Barstool, the podcast has amassed a massive female following and gives young women a false sense of female empowerment. 

Barstool even infiltrated our community when Portnoy did a pizza review of Outta Hand Pizza in downtown Westfield a few weeks ago. His appearance was met with a multitude of high school and college students posting his video on their own social media accounts, bragging that the “Stool Presidente” visited our town. 

While re-posting a pizza review may seem harmless, teens promoting any of Barstool’s content further the company’s reach to younger generations and justifies their disturbing actions. In order for any change to be made, the company must be held accountable for its actions by its target audience, which would require teens to care more about doing what’s right than having a good time. Sadly, this change doesn’t seem like it will occur anytime soon.