Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sports Talk: Extra Soft High School Rivalry Pranks

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Feb. 12, 2014.  
What are high school sports without some rivalry fun involved?

For as long as I remember the Russell County Lakers have been Casey's biggest rival--and I cannot even tell you why, other than they are a short trip down 127. I'm sure somebody knows...

Last week our boys basketball team hosted the Lakers. Unfortunately, in recent years Russell has dominated the basketball court when the teams face off. That, in addition to the fact I was more or less out of the loop when it came to Casey sports during my seven year tenure in Louisville, means I had completely forgotten about the traditional "Toilet Bowl" game when a team's first points resulted in the students streaming the court with rolls of toilet paper.

I was probably in the seventh grade the first time I attended one of these games and saw it in all of it's glory. I remember it happening at both home and away games when the two boys teams faced one another.

This past Thursday night when I was perched in my standard seat in the upper section across from the student section, I had not even wondered whether I would be seeing any toilet paper fly until I saw Athletic Director Victor Black stepping out of the midst of the students carrying a giant garbage bag filled with TP. You could see disappointment in many student faces that their "fun" was being busted and suddenly the memories of the Toilet Bowl came flooding back.

I couldn't help but smile as what I was seeing simply rehashed very, very similar experiences of my own. Mr. Black, after seeming to have confiscated a LOT of Charmin (and hopefully some off brands--surely students are smart enough to save a little change since the stuff wasn't being used for its intended purpose!), I saw him return to the stands and leave with another partial bag. Surely he'd thoroughly searched and disarmed the students. But then, when Casey scored it's first basket less than a minute into play, the rolls magically appeared and began hitting the court. Oh yes, I thought, that's right... somehow, no matter how many times the school administrators came through the stands and how many bags were emptied and puffy jackets were searched, students always managed to keep some TP hidden that would magically appear when the moment was right.

I know pranks between schools should not be condoned. There are good reasons for the TP confiscation and one has to hope that it won't end up being a close game with the Rebs on the losing end considering it leads to technical foul shots for Russell County. You also have to feel a little funny about the prank when your team ends up losing by nearly 20 points.

Having said that, though, as a parent, fan or school administrator, on some level you have to be grateful that THIS is the prank our schools choose to make a tradition. I mean, how much less damage can one do than to throw toilet paper--something made to be extra soft to the touch! We could have students vandalizing one another's school property, stealing things, etc. Instead the game gets interrupted for a few minutes.

For the students, I think the fun of this prank is not even about doing it to spite the Lakers; (especially considering the odds of the winner have been heavily tipped in Russell's direction for a number of years). It's more about proving you weren't the group that let tradition slip. The TP came out slowly but surely when Collin Miller put in two points on a fast break. It wasn't a beautiful raining down of streaming toilet paper. When the final rolls got tossed to the court and still no one was cleaning it up, you eventually saw school officials come to the student section and next thing you knew it was students who were cleaning up the mess they'd just made. 

I can't speak for the students to know what they were thinking or feeling, but as an alum who once sat in the section where the TP flew from, I feel like the real accomplishment for the students is simply proving they can still find ways to make it happen no matter how many bags the administration fills when they file through the stands emptying bags and jackets. Having to eat their pride after the fact and pick up the mess they made doesn't seem so bad.

A prank is a prank and as administrators you have to try and nip them in the bud, but there is something to be said for tradition--especially when it's as harmless as tossing cushy rolls of paper in the air. There are much, much worse rivalry pranks we could be shaming our students for partaking in. So this alum had to simply smile to not only see the tradition of the toilet paper flying live on, but the complete tradition--which includes plenty of rolls leaving the stands in garbage bags!

No comments: