As a child, I had but one goal; to make it in the NBA. As an avid fan of the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Bill Wennington led Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 90’s, I dreamed of nothing more than using my superior athletic abilities to bring a city joy in the same way those great players brought joy to Chicago.
Things seemed perfectly on schedule following my sixth grade season when I won my team’s free throw championship (63%). Then something unfortunate happened. Simply put, I got lazy. My desire to play simply fizzled out as my body got less receptive to all the fitness requirements necessary for those hoping to succeed in the game.
The only way my new lethargic self was gonna get into any sort of game was if it could be played sitting down, which didn’t extend to competitive basketball. Sure I could still shoot at one of those baskets you hang on the door, but even that eventually became too arduous, as it wouldn’t take long before an errant shot bounced off the rim and landed out of my immediate reach.
Then around my junior year of high school, my long-time friend/sworn enemy/partner-in-lethargy Adam Kurtz and I conceived an athletic endeavor which combined the obsessions of my pre-teen (basketball) and teenage (sitting) years at the oddest of times…during a duel defecatory session (if it’s possible to sound pretentious while discussing the act of taking a dump, I think I just did it).
That game was Potshot (patent pending). The objective is simple. Two parties sit in two adjacent stalls. Making sure you both lean back far enough so as to create a small opening at the front of the bowl, each player takes a rolled-up piece of toilet paper and tosses over the divider in hopes of sinking it in their opponents “goal.” A traditional game goes to five, but adjustments can be made based on time restraints.
While this may come across as faint praise, assuming you aren’t a bizarro pervert, I can say with great confidence this game is the most fun you will ever have sitting on a public toilet. The competitive nature and exquisite craftsmanship of the game is very enticing and could be enough to drive you into the stall whether there is any physical reason for you to be in there or not.
And I stress that patience is a must. While it’s not as physically grueling, I find this game to be more fundamentally difficult than basketball, as the view of your target is always obstructed. Even if you get your shot exactly how you want it, your shooting percentage will likely always be low.
As for strategy, while it’s mostly dependent on the size of the stall, a straightforward, finesse approach has always been my go-to. I’ve seen the bank shot approach work a few times, but it’s a rarity, as no matter how tight you roll up a ball of toilet paper, there’s always gonna be a limited spring in its proverbial step.
To get a good bounce would require a strenuous throwing motion, which is never a good idea for this game’s patrons, seeing as how most of them are likely out of shape. It doesn’t matter what you go on to do, if you ever throw out your shoulder while sitting on the toilet, your chances of living a dignified life are non-existent.
While the game is, in practice, the ultimate individual sport, it requires more trust than all team sports put together. Aside from scoring being based purely on the honor system, the risk for disagreements to turn nasty runs extremely high. Without the opportunity to supervise your opponent, you run the risk of them tossing over a ball of TP cloaked in, shall we shall, unpleasantness. For parents of young children, the fact that they may someday play this game is as good a reason as you will ever hear to teach them about good sportsmanship.
As much as I love this game, I acknowledge it’s not easy to organize a game. Rarely is there a time when people are in a public setting when they have time, or desire to, sit in opposite bathroom stalls and play a makeshift game of basketball.
Also, there needs to be a certain degree of social comfort established between two parties before one proposes playing to the other. As I learned the hard way during my friendless first semester of college, asking a total stranger to play this game isn’t a great ice-breaker.
There’s a sequence at the beginning of the movie BASEketball where the two main characters agree they’re pretty good at basketball, “as long as they don’t have to run, or jump and shit.” Assuming they could have gotten over the final fear expressed in that statement, Coop and Remer would have loved this game.
Due to my cripplingly lonely freshman year, I went nearly eight years without playing Potshot before reviving it out of boredom with a co-worker last week. Instantly I felt a longstanding void had been filled and for a brief second was quite sad about having put in my two weeks notice.
To see my co-workers (I played two of them on consecutive days and successfully kicked both of their asses) take to it makes me think there is a future for this game if it were only given a chance. It’s fun, it’s rewarding and for me, it helped me recapture a portion of the love I once had for the game of basketball without having to worry about pleasing that bullying perfectionist Brian Heimlich. I don’t give a shit how many times you’ve heard the “does anyone know the Heimlich” bit, it’s still hilarious when I do it! Asshole.
Final Score: 9.5/10 (The only reason for the archaic product toilet paper to still exist.)