Hopeful for change in the industry

"Barstool Van Talk" has started the latest Barstool controversy. (Via Twitter/@barstoolvantalk)

“Barstool Van Talk” debuted on ESPN2 Wednesday at 1 a.m., the end result of a partnership between ESPN and Barstool Sports after some convoluted time between the two.  There’s no doubt Barstool is a brand that speaks to the younger audience that ESPN is not reaching. Their social media presence is incredible and the reason ESPN is using them is to take advantage of their social media following.

But there’s something deeply disturbing with the Barstool brand and most of its writers. They are sexist, whether some of them want to admit it or not. They have made derogatory comments about women in the industry and female athletes.

The main part of the controversy that took over Twitter on Tuesday was around ESPN’S “NFL Countdown” reporter Sam Ponder. Barstool wrote a horrible article and made a podcast about how much they hated Sam Ponder and yes, it included Big Cat, one of the personalities in the show.

In the article and in the podcast they said they hated Sam Ponder and her ugly kid. She shouldn’t bring her kid to work, she needed to appeal to men.. She was told her only job was to look hot and stop being a mother.

As a woman who hopes to enter the sport industry once I graduate it filled me with anger that ESPN was partnering up with people like that. I know it makes sense from a business standpoint since ESPN is rapidly losing viewers among millennials and the younger generations. It just makes me wonder that if Barstool is sexist and they have a huge following, are most sports fans still like that? And how is a woman supposed to take all of that.

It’s difficult to put into words the way you feel as a woman when you are the only one at a football press conference. You are always trying to prove yourself. I have heard so many times I would be good for this because I’m “pretty.” In light of this issue, I asked my fellow women in journalism interested in sports about their reaction to this story.

Maggy McEvilly, senior, sports management and journalism double major: “It’s difficult to hear that sexism is still so prominent in the country, especially in the sports industry even in 2017. Female broadcasters seem to only be seen as something for men to look at on the sidelines and are still not guaranteed respect for their ability to be successful in the field. Women like Sam Ponder are never going to be seen simply as a sports analyst or broadcaster, but as a female sports reporter, an extra adjective men never will have to worry about.”

“As a female hoping to one day pursue a career in the field it’s somewhat discouraging but it also makes me hopeful that there’s a lot of change necessary to make going forward and that I could help in reforming the sports world.”

Stephanie Sheehan, junior, journalism and communications major and managing editor of the Daily Campus: “I think it’s incredibly ironic that ESPN released a statement saying they’re not responsible for what Barstool tweets or says on their site and they’re only controlling the content of the show. Yet, they suspended Jemele Hill for what she tweeted and they are trying to control her outside of her show.”

“It’s discouraging that a website that treats women like objects and uses the ‘sensitive liberal snowflake’ argument against anyone who doesn’t find them funny is getting airtime from ESPN. Sam Ponder honestly isn’t necessarily in the right either since she recklessly tweeted and misidentified the Barstool guy who wrote the article. But ESPN is walking a very fine line by saying they can’t control Barstool.”

Mariana Dominguez, junior, journalism major and staff writer for the Daily Campus: "The way Sam Ponder was treated really saddens me as someone hoping to enter the field of sports journalism. The idea that women can’t report on sports without being treated as if they are there to please men seriously needs to change."

Molly Burkhardt, UConn graduate, former Daily Campus staff writer and UCTV Sports member: “The words clearly crossed a line, and it was all around sexist and disrespectful on multiple levels. As a long time reader and follower, I’ve come across content from them that I disagree with, but I think their writers are some of the best at what they do.

“So, I think it’s important for women not to ignore the negativity we so frequently face. Sure, brush it off in the moment if you need to, but the comments, implications etc., that women face in the sports industry are issues we need to bring to light. To discourage people from continuing to make such comments, to help make sure younger girls aren’t discouraged from pursuing those careers, and to continue to make it known that women are just as capable of being in this industry as men are.”


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.