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Bill Simmons Apologizes, Addresses Diversity Concerns

“Simmons understands why he is being judged and the need to improve, but asks his audience for “time” to correct the issue.”

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In the last month, Bill Simmons has been criticized for the lack of diversity at his digital media company The Ringer, which he launched in 2016 and sold to Spotify earlier this year. After receiving backlash for a New York Times story detailing staff concern over the lack of diversity, Simmons addressed the issue on a podcast episode. 

“I wish it had been a bigger priority for us to really make a bigger commitment to diversity than we did,” Simmons said Friday. “I think, in the moment, we’re looking at stuff, you pursue certain people, it doesn’t work out. You feel like you’re trying. And I think the moment that the country is having, in general, these last four weeks, is if you feel like you’re trying, that’s actually not good enough. We’re going to do better.”

The backlash came in the wake of Ryen Russillo praising Simmons for hiring a diverse group of talent, a compliment The Ringer Union quickly countered.

“In 2019, 86% of speakers on The Ringer Podcast Network were white. We have zero black editors,” the union released in a statement. “We have zero black writers assigned full time to the NBA or NFL beats. Our union is currently bargaining for practices to improve our diversity and inclusion.”

The New York Times continued the conversation, detailing the union’s concern about diversity at The Ringer, where Simmons was quoted as saying “this isn’t Open Mic Night.” Simmons’ quote made headlines and garnered much indignation, but he provided the quote’s full context during his Friday podcast. 

For their story, Simmons was asked the following question by The New York Times via email:

“Current and former staffers told us that it got harder for young writers — parenthesis — including but not limited to people of color — end parenthesis — to get more responsibility and visibility after podcasts became a higher priority at The Ringer in late 2017, early 2018. For example, they said that during the first few months of The Rewatchables, there were opportunities for younger, more obscure folks to participate. But by early 2018, it was mostly senior folks like you, Chris Ryan, Sean Fennessey and Mallory Rubin, can you comment on this?”

“That’s absurd,” Simmons replied in an email. “We were a startup those first two years, trying a whole bunch of different things. Eventually, we realized that podcasts were the biggest financial part of our business, so we needed to put our best people in them. Again, it’s a business, this isn’t Open Mic Night. As for The Rewatchables, I created that podcast, and it was built around me and Chris Ryan. I’ve hosted the vast majority of them. It’s one of our most popular and lucrative podcasts, and one of the biggest pop culture podcasts, period. I’m proud of the show and how we manage it.”

Simmons since offered the predictable ‘we need to do better’ sentiment, but he also noted it’s one of the reasons why he moved the company to Spotify. “I wanted to tap into their HR and their diversity teams and really try to reshape our company,” Simmons said Friday.  

Simmons understands why he is being judged and the need to improve, but asks his audience for “time” to correct the issue.

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Tiki Barber: WFAN is My Passion Job, Calling NFL on CBS is a Grind

“It’s a fine balance of finding time to grind on tape, but watch the local sports, develop these opinions, and still have a good family life.”

Ricky Keeler

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Tiki Barber
Courtesy: Derek Futterman

When Tiki Barber is talking about either the New York Jets or New York Giants every weekday afternoon with Evan Roberts on WFAN, the goal he wants to accomplish is to inform and teach the audience without having any emotion get in the way. Even though he had a great career with the Giants, the former running back is able to take any emotion out of whatever analysis and takes he gives.

Barber was a guest on the Amazin’ Conversations with Jay Horwitz podcast and he mentioned that over the last decade, he has been able to watch a game and not have emotion cloud what he is actually seeing on the field.

“I’m trying to inform. I’m trying to teach in a way because I think it’s one thing to be passionate about sports and have an emotional reaction, but I watch a lot of the games whether it’s the Jets or the Giants dispassionately. It’s called true media. I can watch any game over the last 10 or so years without the emotion of the broadcast. I see exactly what’s happening as opposed to that emotionally moved me and it clouds what’s going on.”

One of the reasons why Barber is able to do that is because of what happened before he entered the NFL. Barber grew up in Virginia as a then Washington Redskins fan, but once the Giants made the call to draft him, that was the beginning of him becoming dispassionate as a fan.

“I look at sports really analytically and I think it’s because I grew up a Washington fan. As soon as I got drafted to New York, that fandom had to change. When the paychecks are coming from the Meadowlands, that fandom had to change. I became dispassionate as a fan, which allows me to not be biased, but also understand it.”

“I also try to see things from inside the organization. What would a player think about this criticism? Is it fair? If it isn’t, then I’ll expose that. If it is, I’ll say that as well. I’m not afraid to be critical of people.”

When Tiki Barber isn’t talking to fans on Evan & Tiki, he is in the booth as an analyst for NFL games on CBS. With that job, he considers the CBS role more of a grind than WFAN because of the time he puts in watching tape and preparing for the game.

“I love being busy. I love trying to achieve things. I consider WFAN my passion job because I’m talking about sports. All I have to do is pay attention to sports. The grind is a little bit on the NFL games.”

“It’s a fine balance of finding time to grind on tape, but watch the local sports, develop these opinions, and still have a good family life.”

Tiki Barber told Horwitz that his goal is to learn something new every day and while he may not know everything about baseball and basketball, he never wants to come across as if he knows everything.

“I try to learn everyday. I know I don’t know everything about baseball and basketball. I know a lot of football. I feel like I learn as I go and it helps me because I don’t come off as knowing everything. I am having a conversation with someone at a bar. That’s what it feels like to me.”

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Dave Portnoy Blasts YouTube, Announces Other Plans For Airing Surviving Barstool

“If they’re not smart enough to watch a reality show and realize what’s going on. Fine, whatever.”

Jordan Bondurant

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(Photo: Marcellus Wiley)

Barstool Sports founder and president Dave Portnoy isn’t bending the knee to YouTube.

On Thursday, Portnoy held an emergency press conference on his X account to let fans know that Surviving Barstool — a reality show produced by the company — was being pulled from YouTube. This stemmed from repeated strikes levied against the Barstool channel on the platform due to alleged broadcasting of violent threats.

In one of the Surviving Barstool episodes, Barstool host Kirk Minihane apparently threatened to blow up the house of another show competitor. Portnoy said he was given the option by YouTube to either take down the episodes and edit them to remove the questionable content or continue to receive strikes.

“I’m not changing the f–king episodes,” he said.

“This is Barstool, we’re doing it our f–king way,” Portnoy added. “F–k YouTube if they’re not smart enough to watch a reality show and realize what’s going on. Fine, whatever.”

Ultimately the decision was made to move the Surviving Barstool episodes that had already aired to the outlet’s streaming platform Barstool TV. Future episodes of the season plus the live finale will be available for fans to watch for $9.99.

“I think if you’ve watched it, you’ll admit that it’s worth the price,” Portnoy said. “We gotta make up the money we’re going to lose with all that shit.”

Survivng Barstool is about what you would imagine. It’s the Barstool Sports version of the CBS show Survivor. Contestants on the show are Barstool employees who compete for a $100,000 prize.

Portnoy, who bought back ownership of the outlet he founded and built from the ground up this summer, made it clear that if people thought he would jump when YouTube says jump they need to think again.

“The show is the f–king show, and I would rather eat my f–king insides and smash my d–k with a hammer than have to change the f–king show to make YouTube happy,” he said.

Several Barstool employees responded similarly to Portnoy, airing their displeasure with the situation.

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Dave Portnoy Found Out About The CW, Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl Partnership on X

Portnoy reposted the company’s announcement that it had secured a distribution deal with The CW by saying “Love finding out about this in a tweet.”

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Dave Portnoy
Courtesy: Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Earlier today, it was announced that Barstool Sports had partnered with The CW to broadcast the 2023 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl. However, it appears no one told the company’s founder, Dave Portnoy.

Portnoy reposted the announcement that it had secured a distribution deal to bring the bowl game to terrestrial television with The CW. He accompanied the post by saying “Love finding out about this in a tweet.”

The bowl game’s official X account wrote it was “thrilled to be able to bring the most cutting edge postseason experience to college football fans across the nation.”

Barstool Sports play-by-play voice Jake Marsh shared his enthusiasm for the partnership by calling it “huge news”.

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