The Boston Bruins were happy to plug their Barstool Sports towels this morning ahead of tonight’s Game 2, but for some reason they now don’t want to talk about the partnership.
It’s odd for any pro sports team to cozy up to a company that’s unashamed to launch coordinated harassment campaigns against anyone who criticizes it for being sexist and racist, especially when that team is supposedly trying to be more inclusive of all fans. It’s even more baffling for that team to straight-up thank the company’s jittery freak of a president from the team’s official Twitter account.
I emailed the Bruins to ask how the promotion came to exist; if Barstool had pitched the idea to the Bruins or the Bruins had approached Barstool; if the Bruins knew of Barstool’s harassment of women and people of color, and if so, why they decided to go ahead with the promotion; and what message the towels send to Bruins fans who are women and/or people of color. I also asked about Bruins communications director Brandon McNelis, who’s a Barstool fan, and what role his fandom played in creating the promotion. This was the entirety of what Bruins VP of communications Matt Chmura had to say to those questions: “We will not be commenting on this activation.”
Since when has any team or organization ever not wanted to talk about an “activation,” which in context is a nonsensical word? Is it because calling it a promotion or a sponsorship would force the Bruins to acknowledge that they’re willingly promoting Barstool Sports? Are there no “proud partners” here? Is it because the team faced a wave of people telling them why this idea sucked? I followed up with the team to ask about the terms of the agreement and see how much Barstool paid for the right to get its logo on Bruins towels, but I haven’t heard back. Barstool wasn’t toxic enough for the Bruins to reject their money but it’s apparently too toxic to talk about now.