Barstool Sports podcast hosts face backlash for sexist remarks about Taylor Swift amid Travis Kelce romance

‘Insanely weird and gross thing to say,’ says Swift fan

Meredith Clark
New York
Tuesday 03 October 2023 22:06 BST
Related: Travis Kelce shares details of relationship with Taylor Swift

Fans have rushed to defend Taylor Swift after Barstool Sports podcast hosts made sexist comments about the singer following her recent NFL appearance.

On 1 October, the 33-year-old musician attended rumoured boyfriend Travis Kelce’s game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Grammy winner previously watched the Kansas City Chiefs tight end beat the Chicago Bears at Arrowhead Stadium just one week prior, fuelling speculation that the pair are dating.

However, not everyone is pleased with Swift’s viral impact on the National Football League.

Following the Chiefs-Jets game, Barstool Sports personalities Dan “Big Cat” Katz and Eric “PFT Commenter” Sollenberger - hosts of the popular Pardon My Take podcast - shared their controversial opinions about Swift’s presence at the game in an episode released on 2 October. Now, many people have now deemed their comments as sexist towards the Grammy-winning singer.

During the episode, the two co-hosts claimed that Swift’s recent Chiefs appearances have been a “distraction” to the game. “If there was going to be a distraction, it would probably be the most famous person in the world dating your tight end,” said co-host Sollenberger, referencing Swift’s rumoured romance with Kelce.

“Taylor Swift is a problem for the NFL. We have to unite as a group of fans. We can’t let this happen. She’s got to stop going to games,” added co-host Katz, to which Sollenberger agreed: “She’s bad for football.”

While discussing how the New York Jets had completed an “octopus” during the game - when a player scores a touchdown and then completes a two-point conversion - Katz joked that the team had scored “every single way this game”.

Sollenberger added: “That’s what they should call Taylor Swift’s vagina."

Elsewhere in the podcast, Katz admitted that he’d accept Swift’s presence at Chiefs games if she and Kelce were to “release a sex video”, as he described what crude details the video must include for him to accept their rumoured relationship.

“Until that happens I think it’s fake, I think it’s for clicks, and I think Taylor Swift is using the NFL to make her star bigger,” Katz said.

A video of the podcast segment was posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, where it received 26.1m views. “If Taylor Swift is going to be taking over our Sundays I’m going to need to see a sex tape. These are my demands,” Katz captioned the post, before facing loads of backlash from both fans and non-fans of Swift.

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West Side Story star Rachel Zegler replied to the Barstool Sports hosts’ remarks by pointing out the “cruel” ways the media has attacked Swift in the past. “It’s not news that the media is particularly (and unwarrantedly) cruel to Taylor Swift but the way men feel entitled to speak about women, their bodies, and their sex lives needs to be seriously evaluated,” the Snow White star posted on X.

“Insanely weird and gross thing to say,” another user said. “I’m eagerly awaiting the Swifties channelling their destructive energy into this one.”

“Maybe…just MAYBE, let’s not take a woman being in the spotlight meaning you can sexualise her without consequence just because she’s a woman, freak,” said someone else.

Some people took a moment to criticise the podcast hosts’ claims that Swift is using the NFL as a publicity stunt to promote her upcoming projects, the re-release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film.

“Taylor Swift does not want or need her star to be bigger,” one user said in response.

“I promise you, Taylor Swift isn’t using a football player with less than half her success or notoriety for clout lmao,” another person wrote.

Others simply noted that just because Swift enjoyed two professional football games, a sport that’s largely male-dominated, she shouldn’t be subjected to ridicule.

“Publicly demanding sexual favours from a women in return for simply allowing her to exist in a male-dominated space, implying to thousands of young men and boys that women should have to ‘pay a price’ just for a seat at table,” one person pointed out. “I’m disgusted being a woman is so f***ing exhausting.”

“I understand being upset at all the media coverage, but this is really inappropriate,” said someone else. “A woman should be able to go enjoy a football game, even if she’s being covered a lot by the media, and not be subjected to this.

“Not sure what you were going for here, but this ain’t it.”

After the video went viral, Katz clarified on X that his comments were supposedly made in jest and not to be taken seriously. “So you didn’t like a joke. That’s cool. Not everyone likes every joke. That’s how jokes work. No sweat off my back nor should it be off yours,” he wrote in a follow-up post.

The Barstool Sports podcast Pardon My Take averages between 750,000 and 1.5m listeners per episode. The podcast has such a large audience that ESPN briefly partnered with hosts Katz and Sollenberger to produce the Barstool Van Talk show. But after just one episode, the partnership was cancelled after Barstool founder Dave Portnoy reportedly made sexist comments about ESPN host Samantha Ponder. In 2021, Portnoy faced allegations of violent sexual encounters detailed in a report from Insider. The media mogul denied claims that he had done anything remotely non-consensual, described the article as a “hit piece”, and added that “cancel culture has been coming for me for a decade”.

While some football fans may be unhappy with the amount of attention Swift has received after attending two Chiefs games, it seems that NFL officials have welcomed the “Bad Blood” singer with open arms. Her second appearance at the Chiefs-Jets game on Sunday ranked as the most-watched Sunday NFL show since the Super Bowl LVII in February. The football league even changed the header on its official X account to a picture of Swift cheering on Kelce, and updated its bio to read: “We had the best day with you today” - a nod to the singer’s song “The Best Day” from her 2008 album, Fearless.

Following her first appearance at Kelce’s game, jersey sales for the Chiefs tight end reportedly spiked by 400 per cent, according to a report from the NFL’s e-commerce partner, Fanatics.

Despite the “Shake It Off” singer’s attendance at two consecutive Chiefs games, both Swift and Kelce have remained tight-lipped on the status of their rumoured relationship. In a recent episode of his podcast, New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce, Kelce said he wanted to “respect” both his and Swift’s personal lives and will avoid publicly talking about their relationship from now on.

“She’s not in the media as much, as I am doing this show every single week and having fun during the NFL season on other guys’ shows, like the McAfee show and any other show that I go on from here on out,” Kelce said. “So everything moving forward, I think me talking about sports and saying, ‘alright now’ will have to be kinda where I keep.”

The Independent has contacted Katz and Barstool Sports for comment.

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