Columnists, Sports

Instant Replay: Why you need to stop reading Barstool Sports

ESPN and other news outlets are trying to remain relevant during the new era. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

If the mess that was ESPN and Barstool’s quickly-cancelled collaboration didn’t have you questioning the credibility of Barstool, then their childlike reaction to the controversy should. Or their regular Barstool smokeshow posts should. Or their disrespect to the name of journalism should. Or their general degradation of women should. Or… need I go on?

The world of sports journalism has to change. “RedZone” and “Kirk & Callahan” are simply not cutting it anymore, nor are the redundant articles that circulate daily from The Boston Globe and other like-minded news sources. Journalism is not dying, but traditional storytelling is — which is why sites like Buzzfeed Mashable and Barstool are soaring.

But entertainment does not mean credibility, and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly mistaken.

Has “fake news” not taught the world anything? Are all the posts bearing the #MeToo hashtag for nought? Are Jemele Hill’s controversy and Colin Kaepernick’s sidelining lost upon the faces of sports junkies everywhere?

As I scroll through Twitter the day of ESPN’s colossal failure of a partnership with Barstool, I see tweets commending Barstool for remaining true to themselves and their image. I see tweets from Barstool employees themselves, mocking ESPN and replying hateful comments back to the other users who try to challenge them.

I see thousands upon thousands of retweets and likes in favor of Barstool, even amidst racist, anti-semitic, sexist and downright disturbing comments shielded under the idea of ‘humor.’

Yet, I see some hope in between the crevices of these tweets, too. I see female sports writers exposing sexim in their sports offices, whether it be by recounting stories of men making sexual comments towards them in the office or superiors dismissing their work. I see women pulling up past articles published by Barstool that are horrible, disgusting and downright disturbing as proof of the site’s incredibility. But I mostly see support, and a genuine promise of many to boycott this disgusting site.

It’s ESPN’s fault, too, no doubt. We mustn’t forget that these people, the people from ESPN that chose to partner with a famously misogynistic, racist and hateful brand, are the same people that punished Jemele Hill for standing up against said oppression. They gave Barstool a platform to be loud, aggressive, and even come out looking like the good guys.

But we can’t forget what this is really about: it’s about the struggle for journalism to rediscover itself.

I hate hearing it as much as the next journalist, but it’s true: if we don’t change journalism, it will die. Gone are the days of obsessive beat reporting, long-winded columns and Sunday mornings with coffee and inky fingers. Instead, college students like myself pull up Snapchat Discover and read short, interactive blurbs with our desired news, blurbs that are often filled with visuals and audio to accompany the text.

Perhaps we’ll receive a few CNN news updates lighting up our iPhones, and sometimes we might even choose to read an article from The New York Times or The Boston Globe, but the real source of our information and discussion is not coming from any news source at all. It’s coming from social media.

That is why Barstool is thriving — they know this. They understand our short-attentions spans and desire for visuals, commentary and humor. They’ve created personas (like Big Cat) who do more than just encapture and entertain a consistent audience — they engage their audience, too. They are not an untouchable entity like the elusive newspapers once were. They tweet, they joke, they tease, they get angry, they show biases. They understand that this is where the future of journalism is going: engagement.

But they are not good people. They are not a good news source. And while sports readers are flocking to them for their alternative and contemporary approach to sports news, as a female sports writer who cares about the integrity of this career, I will never read Barstool Sports. And I encourage you to do the same.



  1. Clearly you did not follow the whole story. It is easy to read just your side and fully commit to it, however as a writer wouldn’t it behoove you to look into the whole entire situation? Barstool Sports can cross the line sometimes, however that is only with taken-out-of-context statements from people who do not fully understand the personalities. You say female sports writer, but I bet you are thinking of the infamous Sam Ponder tweets and maybe some others that worked at ESPN. If you look at their history they have skeletons in their closet and it is easier to find now that it is in the open than before. In fact you would find what they have done in their past shocking. It is hard to take words from the past and define a brand based on that. Some of these figures that spoke about Barstool’s past, are the same people that said that the past doesn’t define a person’s work (especially when old horrific articles and tweets were brought to the surface). If you looked into Barstool Sports you would see that they are actually a great company and a breath of fresh air in the sports world, especially with the misogynistic history that ESPN is based off of (which people don’t seem to understand). By the way for however amount of women that were against Barstool, there were a lot of women that were on Barstool’s side. They aren’t even on the same caliber as ESPN when it comes to sexual harassment, in fact within the company, they have only treated women with the utmost respect. You will never hear women say about Barstool as they say about ESPN for that exact reason. Look at some of the horrific, judgmental, and misogynistic things that have been said by female ESPN employees. Opinion pieces are always great but next time you should look into what you are writing a little bit more.

  2. Very well put, Paul. Good lesson to learn early for this young lady. Hopefully she takes heed and smartens up!

  3. I do not care much for this article. I respect your opinion and I am not trying to bash your stance (which I don’t completely agree with), but this is downright bad writing. Given that you refer to yourself as an individual bent on safeguarding the integrity of journalism, this piece comes off as weirdly self-aggrandizing and lazy. In point of fact, I am reasonably confident that “encapture” is not a word in the English dictionary. I’m not trying to be a hater, I just wanted to note that the overall quality of the article does not really lend well to the points you were making with respect to journalistic integrity, redundancy, and the decline of storytelling.

  4. Another hit piece against Barstool that shows you do not really know the site or the bloggers. Your next write up should be about their countless charitable donations. Too many opinions here based off of the SJW’s on Twitter who seek faux outrage. People are actually allowed to unwind and enjoy a laugh or two. Comparing journalism to guys who make fun of journalism makes no sense, they admit they’re bloggers. None of this post will change your mind since you’ve already made it up but just because they’re not “Capital J” journalists reporting on the news and you disagree with their humor doesn’t mean it’s the devil. Stop finding the negatives in life and taking yourself so seriously, life is too short.

  5. Barstool is an entertainment/comedy brand. It is not a news source or journalism, as you’ve said. Their goal is to make people laugh. They’ve made that incredibly clear.

    Also, you mention Jemele Hill a few times here. She has appeared on Big Cat and PFT’s podcast Pardon My Take and is clearly a huge fan of the show. Jemele Hill isn’t fighting against Barstool. She’s fighting against actual injustice. In fact, if you did some digging, you would find that pretty much all of Barstool’s main personalities (Big Cat/PFT/KFC/Feitelberg/Chaps) are very anti-Trump and are for everything Jemele Hill is fighting for.

    This is not about journalism rediscovering itself. This is not about journalism.

    This is about an innovative, hilarious television show getting cancelled by ESPN because of something Barstool’s founder said three years ago. Meanwhile, ESPN has actual workplace sexual harassment problems. But you leave that out of this piece.

    If you don’t like Barstool’s humor, that’s fine. But please don’t tell me what I can and can’t read.

  6. You’ve completely missed on this one. As a rising journalist you should really spend ALOT more time on the site. Read the sports blogs, watch the FB baseball show, listen to some of the podcasts. Listen to their radio show. You unfortunately are very uninformed as are many writing hit pieces on Barstool. They are transparent. They are funny as hell. They are on top of all the latest in Sports and pop culture. Are they a little off color at times, absolutely but you have about 20% of the story. And if you want to be a big J journalist, you’ll need to do better.
    Oh. And I’m a woman and a mom.