Before Michigan’s last football game of the regular season, the Ohio State branch of the satirical website Barstool posted a tweet showing a group of individuals in OSU garb with the sign, “Michigan Girls: More Diseased than Flint Water”.
The tweet referenced the ongoing water crisis in Flint, which has sparked significant health concerns for residents and garnered national attention for over a year. The crisis started after the city switched water sources to the Flint River without using anti-corrosive treatments, causing lead to leach out of the pipes and into the water. It has been linked to medical issues in Flint residents, especially children, which include severe bone pain, crumbling of the teeth, and cancer.
The website, a sports blog targeting a largely young college-aged male audience, posted the photo Saturday
Individuals on social media pointed out other similar jokes from OSU fans during the game. Flint resident Mari Copeny, also known as Little Miss Flint, tweeted out a picture of a fan in the crowd holding a “Harbaugh Drinks Flint Water” poster, condemning it.
Both Michigan and Ohio State fans reacted negatively to the OSU Barstool tweet, which has been posted for over 10 hours. Students from both the University and Ohio State requested for the tweet to either be deleted or the account to be terminated.
Others directly criticized the parent company, Barstool publications, for the remarks. The main site has come under fire due to jokes deemed offensive before, like in 2012, for jokes regarding sexual assault. According to the Huffington Post, many protested Barstool’s own concert tours in support of sexual assault victims.
State Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said in an interview with NPR earlier this month that Flint residents are still struggling to have clean water to drink.
“And I think, as a resident of Flint, and my neighbors, I can tell you we don’t feel the urgency that I think that this crisis deserves,” he said. “(Flint citizens) need to have the health, nutrition and educational services to help with the children that were hurt and seniors and other folks that have been damaged.