The Boston Bruins don’t want to talk about their promotion with Barstool Sports, and neither does the NHL.
Yesterday, I emailed the league’s press officers (senior vice president for communications John Dellapina, vice president for communications Jennifer Neziol, and senior director for corporate communications Nirva Milord) to ask a handful of questions about how and why the Bruins were allowed to run an ill-advised Barstool towel sponsorship for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Among other things, I wanted to know if the NHL was aware that Barstool launches targeted harassment campaigns against people who rightfully accuse them of being sexist and racist, and if so, why the Bruins were allowed to move forward with the promotion. What message did it send to fans who are women and/or people of color, especially given the NHL’s push for more inclusion?
I didn’t receive any answers, so this afternoon I followed up with all three, but only Milord picked up. I introduced myself and said I was calling to follow up on the email from yesterday. Milord said that if I hadn’t received an answer, she assumed it was because the league wasn’t going to comment. I clarified, asking if the NHL was giving a “no comment” about the Bruins’ Barstool promotion, to which she replied, “No! I don’t know. It’s not appropriate for me to comment.” I asked her if the league was aware of the promotion ahead of time and she said, “I’m sorry, I’m not privy to anything.” I asked her if allowing Barstool to partner with the Bruins was antithetical to the NHL’s “hockey is for everyone” initiative. The mission statement for this project reads:
We support any teammate, coach or fan who brings heart, energy and passion to the rink. We believe all hockey programs - from professionals to youth organizations - should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
Meanwhile, Barstool has built a business based almost entirely on appealing to a demographic made up of the kind of guys the Covington Catholic kids will be in a few years. To say so isn’t even a projection; the company’s CEO, Erika Nardini, once went on the radio and explicitly said that their business strategy was to “target white guys.” (“Bleacher Report targets African-American teenagers,” she also said.)
Barstool is a business run by a perpetually keyed-up guy, who said people protesting the state-sanctioned murder of black people should be “publicly executed” for blocking traffic, thinks Harvey Weinstein was onto something by trading work for sex, makes racist jokes about my colleague, sexually harassed me numerous times, ginned up a harassment campaign against ESPN’s Sam Ponder, and told his own employee that she’d be too ugly to be on camera in five years. It’s a company that holds its female employees up as a shield while getting annoyed when they don’t find racism funny, while some old cretin rates how hot child molesters are. It’s a business that’s rotten to the core, staffed by people who are either on board with what the company and its founder say and do, or too cowardly to speak out against it (publicly, at least). Barstool was even ultimately too toxic for the craven executives at ESPN, though now that ESPN’s president has shown he’s willing to cater to sensitive whites who can’t bear to think about “politics” when sports are on, maybe they’ll get another chance, especially since more and more supposedly credible ESPN talent pals around with those schmucks. Barstool also constantly steals other people’s work.
So, what did Milord have to say about Barstool and “Hockey is for everyone”?
“I’m sorry, I have nothing to say,” she said, adding that she would talk to her supervisors and get back to me before hurrying off the phone.
I followed up via email again. This time, Dellapina answered: “We have no comment.”