After a brouhaha erupted between the National Women’s Hockey League and Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy released a video in which he blasted Nardini’s critics, telling them to “grow a pair.”
Nardini has been an avowed supporter of the league, even having Metropolitan Riveters players Kelly Babstock and Rebecca Russo on her Token CEO podcast, but some people in the hockey community wanted the league to eschew doing business with Barstool Sports, claiming Barstool had a history that made them unacceptable.
On Monday, Nardini posted a video dedicated to “the haters” that showed tweets and social media posts criticizing Barstool, while at the same time referencing her desire to own a team herself. Nardini wrote, “I’m not going to go anywhere; I’m going to root for them every single day, and I hope more people do too,” adding, “Everybody knows I want to buy a team. You want to help me buy a team?”
NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia reacted, “There is no circumstance where it would be acceptable to call out many of the reporters, staff members and fans who have given so much to women’s hockey, especially knowing that these people could be targeted or harassed on social media,” ESPN reported. Several NWHL players also slammed Mardini, with one reportedly saying Barstool Sports was “white supremacist.”
Portnoy stated in his video:
Okay. Emergency press conference time. I didn’t want to do this, and I was thinking I wasn’t going to do it because most people probably don’t even know what I’m about to talk about is going on, and I’ll only draw more attention to it, and the people who don’t like us will drag us, but I have to come to the defense of Erika Nardini.
So obviously, she’s our CEO, the best hire I’ve ever made, has taken Barstool Sports in 2016 from a $15 million dollar company to close to a billion dollar company. The only human, I honestly believe this, in the world who could have done that. Not only one of the most powerful, best executives in sports, the best [executive] in business.
Our company, while called sexist, chauvinistic, whatever you want to call it, being led by a female, a female CFO, a female CRO, so three of the top four executives, outside of me, all female. But we’re “sexist,” we’re just “doing it for looks,” having basically an entire female executive board take us from a small company to one of the most successful media companies in the world, but we’re just doing it for show. Whatever.
Erika, who led this, who led this revolution, this charge, this success story, also passionate about hockey. Loves it. Plays it. Supports it. Invested in it, probably the number one supporter of a league called the National Women’s Hockey League. The NWHL. You probably didn’t know it existed. The only reason I know it existed — don’t let the headlines fool you — is because in 2013, a girl named Denna Laing got a spinal cord injury playing in the Winter Classic in Boston, and guess what company drew attention to it and raised $100,000 and brought more attention and more money to the cause? We did.
Whatever, I digress. I’m just showing we’ve supported this league before and women’s hockey before. This isn’t a new thing.
For Erika, though, she has dove two feet into it; wants to buy a team; she has players on her podcast, token CEO. She has talked with management; she’s been as involved and as instrumental as any person in this league getting it attention.
You’d think a league that barely anybody knows about would welcome that, crave that.
Well, they have — until this weekend, when a couple of female journalists who cover the league, out of the clouds, took shots at Erika. Blatant shots. Being like, “We don’t want this woman; she’s trash; she’s racist; she’s sexist.” There’s an article on Deadspin, either Erika Nardini is the most evil person or the stupidest person on the planet, or both.
The same Erika I just described, who took us from $15 million to a billion, is probably the number one, number two female executive in sports in the world. Yeah, she’s evil. Deadspin, the company that went bankrupt, said that. Yeah, they did.
A player in the league, a player in the league in the NWHL, said Barstool is “white supremacist,” and doesn’t want to be associated with us. You should be in jail for that. To call a company “white supremacist” without a shred of proof because I sang a Ja Rule song five years ago, is that it? Like, at some point I kept waiting for the commissioner of the league or the players who’ve been on Erika’s podcast to step and be like, “We know this woman, and we know this company. You’re wrong. We don’t stand with you.”
But nope. They just fell in line, one after another, like cowards, to the point the league commissioner does a press release to air because nobody gives a f*** except us, and I’m personally offended that they could be that rude, dishonest, and treacherous. Just to fall in line because of the political climate; God forbid they’re wrong, who gives a f***, we just better go with whatever way the political winds are blowing, a girl in the league said we’re white supremacists, get out of here. Erika has had your back forever. You didn’t have the dignity to have her back? It’s disgusting, and it’s everything that’s wrong. Any player in that league, I guarantee you, would jump to our league if we had one. They’re scared because they have nowhere else to play.
But this league sucks and is doomed, is being run by a couple of no-fun club losers. Let me say that clearly: the people who attacked Erika — and then when Erika responds, like, “Oh, my God! Erika’s attacking us! She’s siccing her army on us!”
You f***ing dragged her, unprovoked, on social media, on Twitter, for no reason, and then you scream boo-hoo when she doesn’t even respond, really, she’s like, “You’d think they’d want me to help rather than trash me.”
Well, f*** you people. She’s a lot nicer than I am, but I literally told her, “Hey, Erika, you want to start” — and I don’t care about women’s hockey, I barely care about men’s hockey — “But if you want to start our own league and put these f***ing clowns out of business, I’m in.”
And all you people who kept your mouths shut can come play in our league, but the “white supremacist crap” girl, you’re done. And everyone else who talked s*** about it, you’re done. I highly advise if you have a backbone or a spine in that league, show some now. You know who Erika is; I know who she is. Grow a pair.
Emergency Press Conference – The NWHL Owes Erika Nardini An Apology pic.twitter.com/qpnPn54Qqa
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 27, 2021
Thanks for having my back
— Erika K Nardini (@EKANardini) January 27, 2021
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