NASCAR did not need old racist videos to resurface on the Internet to find out exactly what type of business Barstool Sports is.
But the clips, which include Barstool founder Dave Portnoy repeatedly using the word N, are just the latest examples of how NASCAR’s partnership with Barstool directly contradicts the governing body’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. So if NASCAR wants this commitment to be taken seriously, it must end the agreement now.
In one series of particularly disgusting video clips of Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality, Portnoy said “I’m going to say something racist”, before delving into a sectarian discussion comparing Colin Kaepernick to Osama bin Laden. Portnoy said the quarterback “looks like a terrorist”, while Barstool writer Kevin Clancy described him as having “terrorist skin”, among several other heinous remarks. They, along with Dan Katz of Pardon My Take, also joke about blackface.
Unfortunately, this is not new to Barstool. A quick Google search would have given NASCAR a litany of reasons not to associate with the trafficked sports website. racism, sexism and targeted harassment including against a NASCAR reporterthis season while posing as a sports commentary and a comedy. Although Barstool and his personalities’, toxic and demeaning behavior has been carefully documented, NASCAR has always teamed up with the company in 2019 for what the Sports Business Daily called “paid media spending”. As the report indicates, the partnership is likely an effort to attract a younger audience.
NASCAR should never have partnered with Barstool, and the cost of using this avenue to recruit new fans surely alienates others, especially if they are not cisgender heterosexual white men. But clearly, he thought the scope of Barstool was worth ignoring the impulsive behavior of some of his greatest personalities and the content they created in the name of comedy.
This compromise is the antithesis of NASCAR’s commitment earlier this month to learn and combat racism inside and outside of sport while promote an inclusive environment. And this can only be corrected by ending the partnership, explaining why it was harmful and strengthening its promise to grow and contribute to change.
Asked in an email about racist videos and its partnership with Barstool, NASCAR made no comments.
A week after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd and subsequent protests took place across the country, NASCAR released a statement saying, in part:
“We must do better and our commitment to promote equality and inclusion continues and will never falter.”
He reiterated this sentiment on June 10 by banning the Confederate flag from his events, an effort led by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the only black Cup Cup driver.
And speaking of the FBI investigation of a noose found in Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR president Steve Phelps who spoke loudlyof the partnership with Barstool after it was extended said:
“We want everyone who loves racing to be welcome and part of our NASCAR family, and our industry will protect ours from anyone who feels differently.”
But Barstool videos recently resurfaced, tweeted by the account @RzstProgramming, highlight the behavior of Portnoy and Barstool employees in direct conflict with NASCAR’s engagement.
Let’s not forget that Kyle Larson was once considered the next most coveted free agent on NASCAR until he spoke the N-word on a live stream at an iRacing event in April. After that, his sponsors, like McDonalds and Credit One Bank, bailed him out and Chip Ganassi Racing fired the 27-year-old driver.
These sponsors did not want to be associated with a driver who used a racist insult, so why is NASCAR okay with being associated with a partner whose founder has also repeatedly?
NASCAR is making an effort to speak out against hatred and promote inclusiveness, and staying in partnership with Barstool, particularly in lieu of these clips, sends the exact opposite message. NASCAR cannot play both ways, and if it wants to make everyone feel welcome in the sport, giving up the bar stool is an obvious next step.
Again, NASCAR should never have partnered with Barstool. But he chose the potential of a larger fan base that ultimately translates into money, obviously decency and humanity, while giving others a perfectly valid excuse for never engaging in sport. .
If NASCAR is to continue to honor its vow to fight racism and push for inclusion, it must completely disassociate itself from Barstool. And to correct this ignorant and disconnected partnership, it must recognize why Barstool is toxic and then make sure that it does not welcome a racist and sexist voice in sports with open arms and a check.