Barstool Sports is an opening, festering sore on the body politic that sprung forth as the latest symptom of cancerous misogyny, and the Boston Bruins put their logo on their rally towels for Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final.
I hardly need to spend my time recounting the numerous ways in which Barstool has proven itself to be a horror show over the years. In fact, in grand Barstool tradition, I’ve decided to steal the work of someone else to make my point. Sarah Connors provided the necessary reading here, and I strongly encourage you to avail yourself of education if you have the free time.
What strikes me most, though, is how absolutely unnecessary this decision was. Barstool is a brand that’s popular in Boston; the company was founded there. Its un-lanced boil of a public head is a loud Boston sports fan and is, of course, happy to throw the company’s money around any time there’s a chance somebody will slap the logo on something. And so the Bruins have taken rally towels, intended to be waved as a symbol of unity and encouragement, and decided that they’re best marked with a talisman of harassment and incitement.
The “no ethical consumption” crowd is likely to point out that the Blues have corporate partnerships with, among others, Anheuser-Busch and Monsanto, two companies which have wrought more than their fair share of destructions. As I sit to write this, next to me is a rally towel from this year’s playoffs baring logos from Enterprise, BMO Harris, and Purina, but also Centene - a for-profit health care middle manager.
That is, at it turns out, the point. The Bruins certainly had the opportunity to choose any number of corporate partners for branding on the biggest stage the NHL has to offer. St. Louis, a city with a shrinking corporate foundation, located four for one printing of one towel.
It’s worth noting that the Business Operations section of the Bruins staff directory lists only one woman, and she appears to be at the bottom of the organizational chart. Leah Leahy’s name is literally the last one on the page, and as “Vice President of Premium Sales and Service,” it seems unlikely that her role would include branding and sponsorships as much as sales of suites and other high-tier seating. Instead, it looks like guys named Matt, Chris, and Josh thought this was a wise path for the organization to take.
In the hour or so since this story broke on Twitter and I published my first reaction to it, I’ve had a small handful of people popping up in my mentions to tell me Barstool “isn’t that bad,” that they’re “not really fans of Barstool but...,” and that I don’t have any particular moral standing to criticize anyone. I can’t speak with certainty to the last one but the first two are so egregiously self-defeating that it pains me to have to point it out.
I’m getting the kid gloves treatment in my mentions because I’m a man who is readily identifiable as such, and that’s the whole damn point. The online staff of Game Time includes only one woman by my count, and that’s the whole damn point. Men who aspire to be the background pieces of Chucky’s Good Will Hunting gang have done their best to circle the wagons and chase women away by telling them they shouldn’t be so sensitive, and by the way you should smile more and lose some weight, and Saturdays Are For The Cavemen.
I have been a white guy between the ages of 17 and 27 and I understand how easy and tempting it is to fall back into adolescence and seize onto your stupidest and basest instincts. I have made those mistakes. All I can do now is try not to make them moving forward and use my voice - that no one seems to be shouting over - to tell others like me to stop being an asshole for just thirty seconds out of the day. If you are ceaselessly compelled to defend something, maybe it’s time to start wondering why that thing needs so much defense.
The Bruins didn’t stop to think. They just took the money. I hope they’re pleased with themselves.