During Wednesday’s victory parade for the USWNT, Christen Press briefly took over the Barstool Sports Instagram account, where she posted videos of her and her teammates celebrating. Later that day, Barstool Sports published a post under the headline “Confirmed: The USWNT Loves Barstool Sports,” in which writer Kayce Smith claimed Press personally reached out to Barstool Sports about partnering with them because she herself is a “HUGE” fan of the site. Is that all true?
I reached out to USWNT press officer Aaron Heifetz for clarity on how the partnership came about, whether Press—who doesn’t appear to have ever followed or interacted with Barstool Sports on social media—is indeed a huge fan of the site, and if she is aware of the site’s sexism, racism, and culture of harassment.
He wrote back:
I really do not know. It did not go through us.
Sounds very odd though. Christen does not seem like someone who would even remotely now what Barstool Sports is or follow them. Something seems amiss!
Heifetz referred me to EAG Sports, a marketing and management firm that represents Press. Multiple emails sent to Press’s personal publicist, Julia Bradzil, and EAG CEO Denise White have been ignored. This morning I called the EAG office and asked to speak to Bradzil. I was told that although she is in the office, she was unavailable to field my question because she would be “on calls pretty much all day.”
I asked Heifetz if he would be able to get a comment from Press for me, to which he replied, “I am not.” When asked if that response constituted an official no-comment from Press, he replied, “Absolutely not. I have no idea about any of this.” When I pointed out to him that, as the USWNT press officer, he seemed like an appropriate conduit through which to get comment from a USWNT player, he stopped responding to my emails.
An athlete agreeing to a brief partnership with a media company is not exactly big news, and is something that PR people and agents set up on behalf of their clients all the time. (For example, USWNT player Rose Lavelle recently appeared on a Barstool Sports podcast.) What made this instance noteworthy is how desperately Barstool Sports attempted to use Press’s brief association with them as not only evidence that the entire USWNT endorses the site, but as a shield against criticism of the company’s worst behavior:
It is entirely possible that Press is indeed a big fan of Barstool Sports and doesn’t mind having her name and the reputation of her team wielded as cudgels against the site’s critics. If that’s the case, it’s proving very difficult to find anyone willing to put that question to her.