Pima County will no longer support Tucson’s annual Arizona Bowl tournament, following the organization’s decision to partner with Barstool Sports, a media company accused of expressing sexist attitudes.
In a 4-1 vote, the Pima County Board of Supervisors decided on Tuesday to revoke about $40,000 it had previously set aside for the upcoming football event.
The county has been financial supporters of the Arizona Bowl since its inception in 2015, but withdrew its association this year after Barstool was named as the Bowl’s title sponsor.
“I feel that the current sponsor does not represent who we are as a region or as a community,” said Supervisor Sharon Bronson. “I don’t see how we, in good conscience, can give financial support to an organization with a documented history of offensive and inappropriate statements.”
Barstool’s employees have repeatedly been called out for publicizing smutty jokes and misogynistic opinions.
David Portnoy, Barstool’s founder, has been condemned for statements he wrote in a 2010 blog post that his critics considered to be supportive of rape culture.
“[E]ven though I never condone rape if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?” Portnoy wrote.
The Arizona Bowl’s postseason football game at Arizona Stadium typically attracts about 30,000 sports spectators to downtown Tucson.
But the county’s leaders believe the game’s large economic footprint is not enough to justify their ongoing support for the event.
Supervisor Rex Scott said severing the county’s ties with the Arizona Bowl was necessary, since many residents likely feel alienated by Barstool’s notorious reputation.
“The Arizona Bowl can make its own decisions about its title sponsor, but county government must consider other factors in considering whether to associate itself with that decision,” Scott said.
The supervisors will discuss how to reallocate the funding to a different organization at its Aug. 16 meeting.
Pima County is not the first entity to distance itself from Barstool’s controversial history.
In 2017, ESPN abruptly cancelled a Barstool-produced show after one episode, in response to pushback the network got from female employees who took offense to Barstool’s crude content.