I don’t have to explain why Barstool Sports is an inhospitable pit of despair.
It’s Breitbart, but for sports.
FS1, but at a 3rd grade reading level.
A frat house with none of the charm or tradition and somehow just as much misogyny.
The list of embarrassments that should have shamed it into nonexistence is long and it is documented. Saying that a girl deserved to be raped? Check the box.
Continuing to employ someone whose antisemitism is not only on the public record, but is gleeful in his bigotry? Check the box.
Using social media as a tool to dogpile on anyone who calls them out for their outrageously bad behavior? Check the box.
In a world in which the sports media landscape, nearly en masse, has decided to swing towards inclusion, diversity of voices, and a generally conscious tone, Barstool Sports has bravely stood athwart history, yelling Stop. Their transparent pandering to the basest of our instincts, our tribalism, and our perverted ideas of masculinity has proved to be tremendously fruitful.
Their fans are cultish in their devotion to their idols. Make a criticism and there are people, tagging their idols to get their attention.
@stoolpresidente love the hair, scarf, beard and everything is on point. They picked a great photo of you
— Mike D (@TRIGGGERMIKE) October 16, 2017
— Moose (@Matt_Moose) May 31, 2017
you just got called a gibbering moron @KFCBarstool you gonna let em do you like that?
— ChippaJ (@ChippaJ) June 10, 2016
The “Saturdays are for the boys” flags are omnipresent at tailgates across the country and all manner of schools have repurposed the catchphrase with their mascot to latch on to the phenomenon. They are, financially speaking, one of the most successful media ventures around.
All of which brings us to the golden geese of the Barstool Empire: Pardon My Take.
You’ve seen the hosts of Pardon My Take, Big Cat (Dan Katz) and PFTCommenter (who remains nameless. What a mystery!). They’ve made the rounds on ESPN, be it on SVP, or on the radio. PFTCommenter began his meteoric rise to superstardom on KissingSuzyKolber.com, moved to SBNation, and then eventually to Barstool Sports. Katz, on the other hand, is a Barstool lifer, described in a GQ profile as “Seemingly the #2” to Barstool founder Dave Portnoy.
When PFTCommenter left SBNation for greener pastures, the podcast Pardon My Take was quickly formed, featuring him and Katz. Despite (or perhaps thanks to) ESPN initially sending a cease and desist order to Barstool for copyright infringement, the podcast took off. Big names galore have been on the podcast, be it Tom Crean, or Bob Huggins, or Von Miller, or David Ross, or Vince Wilfork, or Max Scherzer.
Pardon My Take is a crucial pillar of the Barstool Empire, not only because of its massive success, but because of what it represents: a palatable, watered-down version of the Barstool Brand™ that can appeal to people outside their standard user base. It’s a Trojan horse. Come for Pardon My Take, take a look around the website, and hopefully eventually you’ll become a dedicated consumer of Barstool content, a stoolie, who smashes that RT button for an article about the most abhorrent topics.
Pardon My Take has done its best to move itself above and beyond the rabble the rest of its host site seems intent on creating. If you look at any of the breathless profiles of the PMT boys, you’ll be sure to see bits like this, from the aforementioned GQ profile:
- Congratulations to the Barstool Boys for “arguably handling it well” when one of their shows spiraled into racism and antisemitism, and then silently deleted the video without offering even the non-apology that we’re relatively accustomed to seeing in 2017.
- Congratulations to the Barstool Boys, who are unfairly targeted as “barbaric bros,” due to the relative pittance of articles that amply describe what an awful website it is.
- Most importantly, it is completely and entirely irrelevant if Katz and PFTCommenter themselves restrain from taking part in the worst parts of the Barstool culture.
Every day, when the Pardon My Take guys wake up, they go to work for Barstool Sports.
Every time they cash a check, they’re cashing a check from Dave Portnoy.
Every time Barstool publishes a horrific piece and the PMT guys respond by not responding, they’re speaking volumes.
This is not a worker on the assembly line of Northrup Grumman. These are not people who do not have other options. If they wanted to, they could have probably worked anywhere else. They could absolutely leave for anywhere else today. But they aren’t. And in doing so, they’re proving they’re not your friend.
Sam Ponder was right to share this, and it doesn’t matter that she didn’t technically tag the author.
— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) October 16, 2017
Nowhere in Katz’s responses to Ponder does he even begin to broach how absurdly unacceptable that column is.
He’s far more interested in making sure that he can separate himself from the story. And it’s because he doesn’t actually care about how offensive that writing is. And if you are saying that you care about how Barstool treats [deep inhale] women, the LGBTQ+ community, Jews, all kinds of minorities and yet you’re supporting these guys? You don’t care enough.
More than almost any other industry, in the wide world of Online Media, you are who you work for. You take on that all that baggage. If someone packed up their bags at the New York Times and went over to Breitbart, you would know exactly what that says about them. Likewise, if someone went from the Washington Post to Gizmodo, you would know what that says about their ethos. Moving from anywhere to Barstool Sports tells you all you need to know about a person’s value system. And it tells you that you don’t need to pay attention to them anymore.
And now they’re on ESPN2. Because this world quenches for the worst of all possible outcomes, and we are willing to lap it up. And people, good meaning people who are reliable voices railing against the culture that Barstool wallows in, are trumpeting the news. Maybe it’s to fit in with the hip crowd. Maybe it’s because values are only paycheck-level deep. Maybe it’s because it’s hard to tell a friend or a colleague about what their career choices say about them.
All I know is that I’m so tired.
Tired of bathroom wall graffiti masquerading as valuable literature.
Tired of this oppressive reality that all circles back to the politics of the day.
Tired of seeing people I otherwise respect go deep, deep into the gutter for some B/B+ comedy.
It’s so easy to not listen to a podcast or watch an ESPN2 studio show that airs at 1 AM. I promise you. You do it all the time. Just do it a little more.