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In Today's Headlines: Sports Media Mogul, Erika Nardini, Is Attacked For Supporting Women In Hockey

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Once again we've entered the Upside-down. A world where logic doesn't exist. A world where defending yourself is offensive. Where supporting women is misogyny. A world where advocacy is apparently "evil". We've been here before, but somehow I was surprised by the response to Erika's involvement, support, and advocacy for the NWHL. 

When Erika Nardini was understandably annoyed by someone suggesting that any involvement with her and/or Barstool was bad for the league and the athletes she cares about she defended herself and was met with this response from Mark Lazerus

So a woman being harassed online by people via a public platform (Twitter) defends herself on that same platform and that is...not allowed? It's a dog whistle to attack because she kept the receipts of what people were saying about her and the company that she has dedicated the last 5 years of her life to? THEY'RE HARASSING HER, Mark. They're tearing down an advocate for the NWHL. All she did was promote a league and her friends with seemingly endless passion. THAT is a real shitty way to "support" women's hockey. 

The saddest part is that if you sat down and tried to build the best possible person to help grown the NWHL from scratch you'd end up with Nardini:

--Head of a growing media giant

--A woman

--Found hockey later in life than most fans of the sport which shows that anyone can get involved at any time. That anyone can be a "new fan"

--Plays hockey

--Has the world's largest hockey podcast in her network

--Has served on the board of a start-up professional sports league (PLL)

--Serves on the board of the WWE which is arguably better at promotion than any other sports/entertainment product 

--Orchestrated the business side of Barstool which took it from a $15M valuation in 2016 to $450M(and it'll probably be a billion dollar company before we know it)

Having an advocate like Erika Nardini should be celebrated and embraced. You could not have a more perfect ambassador. She has jumped into hockey with both feet and everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She couldn't be more perfect for the NWHL and she loves the league so much that she is literally trying desperately to put her money where her mouth is and BUY A TEAM. There's NOBODY better for women's hockey than Erika Nardini and they're pushing her away based on a tired narrative by a vocal minority who claim a moral high ground with a lazy and illogical argument. It's honestly sad. How can these people claim to support women and women athletes when they're attacking the one woman on the planet who could bring more exposure, growth, and actual dollars to women? 

Certainly though that position by Lazerus would be recognized as faulty and futile. After a night's sleep the NWHL and some of these detractors would think it through, come to their senses, and realize that even if they don't like Barstool they can still respect and appreciate Nardini and the doors she can open for the sport. I am an optimist by nature and I typically believe in people. I thought cooler heads would prevail...And then...

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Stunned for a second, but then I saw the "Barfstool". The signature "joke" of Sam Fels. The guy who failed to grow his audience so apparently he now writes for a company that went bankrupt. This guy has been making that joke ever since he blocked Big Cat and I in 2013. He has an axe to grind and it's that axe is down to a dull nub after a decade. It doesn't matter how much evidence there is to refute his claim, he still bangs the same lame drum. I mean Barstool has given a TON to charity. And when I say that I am of course talking about giving him and Deadspin clicks. The only time Deadspin seems to make any sort of ripple is when they're attacking Barstool. If Barstool can bring attention to a company bankrupt of both money and talent even for a second just imagine what they could do for a good product like the NWHL. I was going to pick apart portions of that article, but it's nothing except snark passed off as insight. I was actually disappointed that he did such a terrible job. 

As a fan of hockey I often wonder why there seems to be more of the SJW types on hockey twitter than other sports. I think hockey has fewer people online and in the population who played the sport because it is so niche. It doesn't matter if you didn't grow up with hockey because even if you run into a sports fan the odds that someone like Carl or WSD will be able to challenge members of "hockey twitter" on their fandom or knowledge. So they're effectively validated by the mere fact that there is less of a "hierarchy". And you know what…I have largely been fine with that historically. Let them have their say. Welcome them in because as someone who has spent their entire life loving hockey I am keenly aware that it would be better if the sport had more fans. The fact that hockey is niche also allows them to feel a little like a hipster. 

Where I get frustrated is that those same people who cry when the sport doesn't get enough attention then turn around try to box out people from supporting the game. That goes for both men's and now definitely women's hockey. They don't see Erika as an ally. They see her as a threat to their own standing in the game. If they have 500 people who care what they say and then Erika comes in with 500,000 their voices suddenly aren't as important. They don't care about what is good for the women athletes or for the sport. My guess is that they're self-interested and self-aggrandizing. They try make the sport and the coverage insular because they fear that they're ineffectual. That's the only way someone could try to spin Erika's enthusiasm and influence as a negative for the league. Any way you slice it, from first-hand experience, if Erika believes in you and supports you then you are going to come out ahead in the long run, net net. 

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