In early August, a friend of mine invited me to like the Facebook group entitled “Stand Against Barstool Sports Rape Culture.” It didn’t take much digging to figure out why my friend Kat Stratford had created this group. Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy has quite Internet rap sheet when it comes to sexist behavior and raunchy, misogynist comments about women. With boobs, butts, beers, and blackout parties, Portnoy built the “Bro Culture” and Barstool Sports. What started as a Boston fantasy sports and gambling newsletter and blog has become a multimillion-dollar, multimedia sports, pop-culture and gaming conglomerate.
What’s the Tucson angle to this story, you may ask.
On July 27, 2021, Portnoy announced on Twitter that the University of Arizona had offered him a “unicorn deal” by choosing Barstool Sports as the new naming sponsor of the heretofore lackluster Arizona Bowl, which is played at Arizona Stadium on New Year’s Eve. They will not only get multi-year naming privileges and notoriety through the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, the deal with the University also gives Barstool exclusive broadcast rights to the game. Bye, bye, CBS TV.
Exactly one month later on August 27, 2021 the Arizona Department of Gaming announced 18 of the state’s sports betting licenses and their corporate sportsbook partners. Phoenix Raceway was awarded an online sports betting license, and Barstool Sports is their partner. This contract allows Barstool Sports to run bets on the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl during the game.
This is not a simple story about Portnoy, the feisty, shock jock blogger who made it big by using sex and social media to sell the bro culture and his business. The Barstool Sports story is much bigger than this.
Buckle up for a wide-ranging discussion about sexism and misogyny in sports, the bro culture, and the looming explosion of gambling in Arizona when online sports betting begins.
My guest is Kat Stratford. She’s a single mom and local activist who has spent the past two years working to promote policies that benefit survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
If you're having trouble understanding the audio on the interview, check out the YouTube version with subtitles.