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Barstool Sports is a sports and men's lifestyle website that shares sports news, commentary, as well as memes and videos. The site claims that their content is meant to be read as satire. However, their brand of humor has led to numerous controversies and criticisms.
On November 14th, 2002, the website www.barstoolsports.com was registered.
Barstool Sports was originally a handout pamphlet, a print newspaper.
The earliest available post from the website is from December 18th, 2003. In the post, the site proclaims that the site will be a "written by the common man for the common man." "Quite simply, Barstool Sports consists of a bunch of average Joes, who like most guys, love sports, gambling, golfing and chasing short skirts. We spend our NFL Sunday's worrying about our fantasy football teams and our summers worrying about the Sox."
In 2010, the print version of Barstool Sports shuttered.
On April 21st, 2014, AOL announced that they would air exclusive Barstool Sports content.
On October 18th, 2017, ESPN2 aired a Barstool Sports talkshow, Barstool Van Talk." The show was canceled after one episode. ESPN President John Skipper said, "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."
Barstool Sports primarily posts news and commentary from various cities, including Boston, New York, Chicago and more. The site also hosts various ongoing video series and podcasts.
In August 2011, the site published nude photographs of professional football player Tom Brady's two-year-old son. In addition to the photographs, Portnoy referred to the child's genitals as "a big 'howitzer.'" Portnoy later defended the decision to publish the photographs.
"“I said he had a big ‘howitzer.’ So that’s not sexual. If you’re making a connection to that being sexual then I would look into the mirror is what I would say; because it’s not sexual at all. I don’t know how anyone with a rational brain could say, ‘Oh, that’s because I said that, that’s sexual.’ It’s a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ joke."
Rape Joke Backlash
In a now-deleted post from May 2010, Portnoy posted, "[E]ven though I never condone rape if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?” The post led to a backlash from women's advocacy groups, uncluding ones on campuses where Bartsool Sports planned on hosting their "Blackout Parties."
Operation ClownFace refers to a prank executed by the sports commentary website Barstool Sports. On September 7th, 2017, representatives from the site handed out 70,000 towels with an illustration of NFL-commissioner Roger Goodell in clown make up to fans at the New England Patriots opening game.
On September 7th, representatives for Barstool Sports handed out more 70,000 towels to people in the crowd. According to Sports Illustrated, Barstool Sports spent $140,000 on the towels.
During the game, flashes of the crowd showed people holding the towels. Tweets from the night (examples below) show the success of the stunt. Using the hashtag #OperationClownFace, people shared pictures of the crowd holding in the light blue towel. When Goodell walked on to the field that night, Sports Illustrated reported a series of boos and chants of "Roger Sucks."
"Gym Shaming" Video
On May 13th, 2018, the official Barstool Sports Twitter  account published a video of a man recording himself flexing at the gym. They captioned the post, "Ever wonder who your girl is talking to behind your back?" The post (shown below) received more than 5,000 retweets, 20,000 likes, 2,000 comments and 8 million views.
Ever wonder who your girl is talking to behind your back? pic.twitter.com/XtZm9pSrqC
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 13, 2018
Many reacted negatively to the post, claiming that they were shaming the man for attempting to get in shape. On May 14th, Twitter user @reaghanhunt shared the video and commented, "ur making fun of this guy as if your entire fanbase isn’t college boys who drink 2 beers and spend the rest of the night taking snapchat videos of themselves with drake playing in the background." The post (shown below, left) received more than 8,900 retweets and 69,000 likes in two days.
The following day, Twitter user @meatymcsorley tweeted, "This fucking sucks. This person is in the gym, putting the work in, feeling good enough about themselves to take a photo of their development and you’re mocking them? Fuck you." The post (shown below, right) received more than 100,000 retweets and 450,000 likes in 24 hours.
On September 24th, 2018, The Daily Beats published a report on the various harassment and cyberbully campaigns allegedly encouraged by Barstool Sports CEO Dave Portnoy. The report documents the allegations by various female members of sports media, who claim that after Portnoy discusses or attacks them on the various channels, they have been doxxed, harassed and cyberbullied for days and weeks.
The piece states:
But Barstool Sports isn’t like any other sports-media company. The online harassment by Portnoy and in turn by Barstool’s most devoted fans--largely young, white men or “Stoolies,” as they’re known--is a feature of the site, not a bug.
Any attempt to rein in Portnoy or the harassment would transform Barstool into something that is not Barstool. The harassment campaigns and the pummeling of their so-called enemies--the “haters and losers” or the “blue checkmark brigade”--are celebrated by Barstool, and recapped like they were a sport in and of itself. If so, it’s very much a contact sport. Four female reporters who anonymously spoke with me detailed the piles of abuse doled out by Barstool bloggers and Stoolies, and not just online.
People have been doxed, calls have made to their home late at night, and they’ve had to lock down every single scrap of personal information, rightly fearing that it would be weaponized. (While reporting this story, I was doxed by Portnoy.) The mere mention of Portnoy or Barstool on social media risks unleashing the hounds.
While Portnoy did not respond to the peice, on September 19th, he published a piece on Barstool Sports entitled "It’s Come To My Attention That Some Nobody Robert Silverman of the Daily Beast is Writing A Hit Piece On Me 5 Years In the Making." In the piece, Portnoy posts tweets by The Daily Beast's Robert Silverman, the author of the piece, in which Silverman mocks Portnoy for his estrangement from his wife, as well as asserts that Portnoy is homophobic and anti-semitic.
Some online were not surprised by the allegations brought about in the piece (shown below, left and center). Twitter user @ErinMcPike tweeted, "Oh so Barstool Sports has a sexual harassment problem… gosh, who could have guessed?" Twitter user @banikarim tweeted, "dave portnoy is scum and anyone doing business with barstool is complicit in their culture of harassment and misogyny."
Others, however, who are fans of portions of the site, like the "Pardon My Take" podcast, tweeted their support of the show they like, while distancing themselves from Portnoy (example below, right). Twitter user @QuinneyUte tweeted, "So now the sports twitter hive mind says we shouldn’t listen to Pardon My Take because the president of Barstool Sports is an idiot. I’ve never cared for Dave, and I don’t think he’s funny. But that won’t stop me from listening to PMT. #ThoughtsAndPrayers to those offended."