Over the past year, I’ve witnessed the development of various cliques at Barstool Sports. Sometimes these groups are defined by age, style, musical preferences, drugs of choice, and Tex. For example, you may recall that when Hank fought Tex at RNR2, the office was divided in its allegiance. Those who are popular, and want to be popular, sided with Hank; those who clean the toilets and struggle with reading comprehension sided with Tex. The popularity of Big Cat and PFT, and their obvious support of Hank, planted a lot of employees in the shade of the PMT tree, mouths open, hoping to catch the scraps, crusts, and crumbs that they occasionally jettison to the groveling masses. “I’ll throw my lot in with Big Cat’s crew, as my fealty will surely be remembered in the future!” thought many of us, donning Team Hank shirts and laughing extra loudly whenever Big Cat exhaled Juul vapor in Tex’s face.
At the time, I was still finding my feet here at Barstool. So I went the way of the majority and tied my lines to the PMT schooner, towed in their wake aboard a raft of sycophantic shame. I knew little back then, but I knew enough to know that I’d sold my soul. And as a ginger, when you sell your soul, there are no returns or refunds, because you’re selling something that doesn’t exist.
Why did I do it? To be part of Barstool’s Club Cool, of course. To understand how coveted are the seats in this prestigious club, we need to trace the origin and evolution of Barstool’s most exclusive clique.
The first official meeting of Barstool Club Cool (BCC, for added coolness) occurred on September 5th, 2016. The founding members were Big Cat, KFC, KMarko, Feits, Hank, Caleb, and Louis. These pioneers of phat blazed a trail to Madison Square Garden to watch Kanye West perform from the comfort and exclusivity of a luxury box. To announce their friendship and instill FOMO and inferiority complexes in Barstool’s left-behind, “didn’t make the cut this timers,” the crew made sure to post pictures of their evening all over social media.
What’s ironic about this picture is that even on the club’s first meeting, you can already see disparate factions breaking out. Keith and John have their arms around each other and are jointly forming the Rocafella diamond with their hands. It might as well be a friendship necklace; two halves of a whole lot of cool. You’ll also notice that Caleb is pulling Hank and Louis in to form a three-headed dragon– one of the coolest creatures in all of sci-fi. Big Cat, “separate but equal,” is posing with an upside-down peace sign as if to say “I support the war in Afghanistan.” And nobody is touching KFC, who looks like he is parting the two sides of a curtain to make sure people see him. Even on their first night, it’s clear that Kevin’s tenure in the club is something the rest of the members will discuss at the next meeting. Kev, as Drake would say, “if you’re reading this, it’s too late.”
Sure enough, just 6 months later, on April 17, 2017, Keith posted this picture to his Instagram:
Barstool Club Cool: Volume 2. You’ll notice that here, Big Cat is posing with a halfway-turned peace sign, as if to say “my thoughts on Afghanistan are changing, but I haven’t made up my mind.” Notably absent are Caleb and Kevin, replaced by PFT Commenter. It’s no stretch to assume that Big Cat was the architect of the club’s reshuffling. His partnership with PFT was in full swing by this point, and this meeting was clearly called to integrate PFT with the other “cools.” But of course, KFC, Caleb, and Louis were not told of the meeting. They found out from the sadness of their homes when they saw Keith’s post, at which point they hastily formed a group text called “FUCK BARSTOOL COOL CLUB, AND ESPECIALLY PFT” These three outcasts tried to form an offspring club but their lives and interests were too different. A new era of BCC had begun.
By now, I was a couple months into my tenure at Barstool. Like everyone else on the content side, I was enviously aware of Club Cool’s existence. I would eavesdrop on whispered conversations, catch subtle winks between the members, and attempt to mimic the secret handshakes with which they greeted each other. As I quickly learned, it’s very frustrating to perform a secret handshake with yourself. The hands don’t fit and you look like a crazy person. I wanted in, more than anything. But I knew my time would come…
Christmas break, 2016. We all know that Dave and I became best friends. And while Dave has never been part of Club Cool himself, he’s always held an invisible hand over the club, guiding, approving, and occasionally spanking when needed. He’s easily the most influential non-member of Club Cool. For as he himself said…
This tweet came as a response to that fateful Kanye concert, where Dave’s proverbial invitation was lost in the mail. I know we’re jumping around in time, but I’m not exactly sure how to read Big Cat’s stance on Afghanistan here. It might be three fingers pointing down, which could symbolize him advocating for 3 more years of war followed by a gradual withdrawal of our troops. Clearly, Big Cat has thought a lot about Afghanistan but will hint at his stance through subtle hand gestures in group photos. Captain cool.
Needless to say, there have been many iterations of the club’s roster. Here are some examples:
A “company retreat” at Dave’s Nantucket house organized by the newly-hired CEO Erika Nardini? Or an insidious way to remind everyone else that they DON’T have equity?
Kevin’s wedding from 5 years ago, posted as a “Throwback Thursday.” Back when Club Cool was just a glint in the eye of these four horsemen, who combined their seeds to fertilize the egg that hatched into the Augusta National of friendship clubs.
Caleb gets called back up from a brief development phase in the minors, and Keith finally realizes that to really show “coolness,” he has to be pictured with a girl.
Another throwback, this time from a Barstool Blackout party. Of course, these three kings spent the evening conversing quietly in the green room, aloof from the rolling peasantry and foam cannons. Dignified, sophisticated, superior. And Jesus Dan, eat a burger.
And in the most interesting twist:
A group that was ALSO named a new version of Club Cool by El Presidente himself! This gathering flips every existing notion on its head. Riggs? Office Manager Brett? Captain Cons? SMITTY?! Such a motley crew that one wonders… is “Club Cool” simply any collection of employees that hangs out outside the office without Dave? No, of course not. That would mean that… that… that none of this matters? I refuse to believe it.
Even after more evidence piled up…
I don’t even know where to begin here. Aside from that extremely handsome dude on the left, this is a bad look for the club. Might as well start letting homeless people join.
So what members define the club? Well, we’ve seen occasional guest appearances by Chaps and Gaz, among others. By virtue of living in Texas, Chaps is an out-of-state member and pays lower annual dues, while Gaz’s sense of humor is so dry that the club has to apportion water when he’s around. But the most consistent members of Club Cool are undoubtedly Keith and Feits. (Which is strange, because as Keith explained to me, he was the 13th person invited to Kanye, by Hank, only after 2 of Hank’s other friends said no to the last ticket. And John is so apathetic to everything that I wouldn’t be surprised if he just stumbled into these hangouts by accident.) But, time after time, they show up in the right pictures at the right time; whatever group they’re in, that group becomes the club.
Given my recent run of form, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting an invitation. And it came on Monday night by way of a group chat that included Keith, Feits, and Liz. Obviously I was overjoyed when I saw Keith and Feits in the chat, as I knew immediately what this meant. But Liz? Liz is pretty new to the company, so my initial reaction to seeing her included was one of extreme anger. I’d spent an entire year becoming as cool as I could, banging out hit after hit and spending entire paychecks on winter coats with the goal of earning a spot at the Club Cool table. And I’m joined at my initiation by someone who has been here for a month? And a WOMAN, NO LESS? IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE?!
But I mastered my emotions. You don’t become a member of BCC by having violent outbursts and threatening to blow up the office–a lesson I learned early on. I also realized that Liz had organized the gathering, so I welcomed the invitation and met the group for a night of Office trivia.
We convened at a trendy bar in the Lower East Side that was decorated to look like Anne Frank’s attic. It had weird, old family portraits hanging on a wall against wallpaper you’d find in a different century. Keith, John, and Kelly were already there, so I ordered a drink. I was super thirsty and ordered a hard cider, which was a mistake that has kept me from sleeping for 3 nights. With my glass of estrogen in hand, I sat down at the table to realize that John and Keith were drinking bourbon. Nobody said anything, but it was clear that I had a strike against me before I’d opened my mouth. They passed a sideways glance to each other to made my skin crawl with regret. Luckily, Liz arrived and took the spotlight off me.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening, struggling over insanely esoteric Office questions like “What is Toby’s daugher’s name?” We laughed, we toasted, and everyone else in the bar was in awe of how cool we were. Of course, the most important part of the evening was the picture. I knew it was coming, so I went to the bathroom to take a few deep breaths and bang out some dips with my hands on the toilet seat and my feet on the sink. The results, as you can see from my horseshoe triceps, speak for themselves:
The night was everything that I had hoped it would be. Despite my early slip-up with the cider, I regained my composure and garnered a few laughs by yelling out “FUCK THESE FUCKING LOSERS” whenever another team got a question that we’d missed. Once the scores were tallied, we finished second to last, but we all felt like winners. The real losers, of course, were all the Barstool employees who weren’t there.
And that, my friends, is pretty cool.
Barstool Cool Club charter:
We, the members of Barstool Club Cool, solemnly swear to hang out outside of work, to take photos of such events, and to post those photos in order to make our pathetic, uninvited colleagues recognize their lack of value. We do this in order to motivate these losers to become cooler, to work harder, to dress better, and to stop sucking so much at life. From this day… until the end of time, amen.