A week ago, with a new show in partnership with the site Barstool Sports about to air for the first time on ESPN, a back-and-forth emerged between ESPN’s Sam Ponder and Barstool over demeaning comments members of the site had made about Ponder in the past.
At the time, ESPN released a statement from a spokesman saying: “The comments about Sam Ponder were offensive and inappropriate, and we understand her reaction. She is a valued colleague and doing a great job for us. As stated previously, we do not control the content of Barstool Sports. We are doing a show with Big Cat and PFT, and we do have final say on the content of that show.”
The show, “Barstool Van Talk,” debuted last week. Another episode was presumably set to air this week — until ESPN quickly pulled the plug on Monday with a new statement, this time from President John Skipper that read in part:
“Effective immediately, I am cancelling Barstool Van Talk. While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”
Yeah, it’s probably hard to distance yourself from the Barstool brand when the show has Barstool in the title.
The best guess is ESPN underestimated the backlash and that Ponder’s complaint was taken seriously — and that she wasn’t the only one at ESPN to voice her concern even if she was the most public and vocal.