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‘I don’t think we can always hold on to the baggage of the past’

Barstool Arizona Bowl aims to shatter glass ceilings despite controversial past
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Barstool Sports is the title sponsor of Tucson’s Arizona Bowl. But the company is no stranger to controversy, having faced accusations of racism and sexism in the past few years.

The change has left some co-sponsors of the game in a dilemma: stay or leave?

“I don’t think we can always hold on to the baggage of the past,” said Kym Adair, the Executive Director of the Barstool Arizona Bowl.

Adair urged those with concerns or criticism to give Barstool another chance.

“Sometimes people say stupid things that they probably regret,” said Adair. “They change, they grow, they evolve. It’s a completely different company led by women looking to empower women.”

Despite criticism on social media about Barstool’s new role with the non-profit Arizona bowl game, Barrio Brewing leaders say they didn’t think twice about sponsoring the event again this year.

“I know the people at the Arizona Bowl. I know their commitment to this town and this community and how they wouldn’t put something in place that would hurt this community,” Said Jaime Dickman, the COO of Barrio Brewing. “You look at Barstool and their CEO is a woman, her C-suite is all women, they have a diverse leadership team overall.”

Barstool CEO Erika Nardidi is the only female CEO of a sports media company and Adair is one of only three women in the country to run a college bowl game. She agrees, Barstool is not the same company they were a decade ago.

Adair says today Barstool is walking the walk by ensuring women have a seat at the table. And that’s rare, she said, with so few women in leadership positions.

“We should be talking more about that, how come there aren’t more women in leadership positions instead of focusing negatively on the companies that have made the moves to put women in leadership capacity,” said Adair. “This is a great company. I stand behind it and I’ll tell you the person standing next to me at the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl will be my daughter, and I’ll be proud to have her there.”

All proceeds of the Arizona Bowl will be given to local nonprofits. This year’s game, like all the others before, will be on New Year’s Eve at Arizona Stadium.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.