ESPN Drops Barstool Sports Partnership Amid Sexism Backlash

Doha Madani
ESPN Drops Barstool Sports Partnership Amid Sexism Backlash

ESPN on Monday dropped its partnership with Barstool Sports after concerns over sexist and misogynistic comments made on one of the website’s blog posts and podcast episodes. 

The network originally signed on with Barstool to convert its popular podcast “Pardon My Take” into a series called “Barstool Van Talk.” But ESPN dropped the series on Monday after only one episode after the network’s Sunday NFL Countdown host, Sam Ponder, tweeted screenshots of a 2014 blog post from the site using foul and misogynistic language about her. 

Barstool’s founder, Dave Portnoy, wrote an editor’s note on a blog post that said Ponder’s number one job requirement was to “make men hard.” Portnoy later called the host a “fucking slut.”

ESPN, which initially stood by the partnership, announced the cancellation of “Barstool Van Talk” in a statement released on Monday by network president John Skipper. 

“Effective immediately, I am cancelling Barstool Van Talk,” Skipper’s statement read. “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content. Apart from this decision, we appreciate the efforts of Big Cat and PFT Commenter. They delivered the show they promised.” 

The personalities behind the series and the “Pardon My Take” podcast released a statement expressing disappointment about the news. Portnoy also addressed the controversy in an “emergency press conference” livestreamed on Periscope and posted to Twitter.

“Three years ago, I guess I called Sam Ponder a word that in hindsight I wish I took back so this didn’t happen,” Portnoy said. “But I don’t take back the rift, I don’t take back any of it.”

Portnoy went on, telling fans that ESPN was under pressure to cancel the show and that the controversy reinforced the importance of Barstool Sports. 

“For 15 years, people who follow this company know we just talk, shoot the shit, try to be funny, don’t let PC America get the best of us,” Portnoy said. “And we’ll continue to do that. That’s why ESPN had to turn to us. ESPN needed us more than we need them.” 

Barstool’s president also said that he wasn’t angry at Ponder for tweeting the controversy that ended the partnership. Portnoy called her act a “grudge move.” 

″We attacked her,” Portnoy said. “She waited for three years to drop revenge on our heads the night before and she got accomplished what she wanted to get accomplished.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.