JBU's TP Game Is a Global Sensation
By Jessa Parette Eldridge '11
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
For more than 30 years, the JBU Men’s Basketball Toilet Paper (TP) game tradition has been one of the best-kept secrets of college athletic fan traditions. The secret is out. After the first home basket is made, Golden Eagle fans toss thousands of rolls of toilet paper onto the court, earning a technical foul for the mess that everyone quickly helps to clean up.
On Nov. 2, 2011, Yahoo! Sports’ front page ran a story about JBU’s TP game. It called the phenomenon “one of the premier traditions in all of college basketball.” Within a few days, the entire sports community was buzzing about JBU’s TP game.
Even before the Golden Eagles made their first basket this year, Simeon Hinsey ’02 knew that the Toilet Paper game was going to be a big deal. Hinsey, JBU’s sports information director, had contacted Yahoo! Sports writer Jeff Eisenberg in 2010 asking him to mention JBU’s TP game.
Hinsey’s inspiration to contact Yahoo! Sports came when he saw an article written about Taylor University’s Silent Night basketball tradition.
“I saw the article on Taylor University and knew that if Taylor was on Yahoo! Sports, then JBU definitely should be too,” Hinsey said. “When I contacted Jeff Eisenberg and sent him a link to our TP game video, he emailed me back within minutes saying that he would definitely be interested in covering the game in 2011.”
But Yahoo! was only the beginning. After Yahoo! Sports ran a story on it’s main webpage about the TP game, other media outlets started talking about the tradition. Sports Illustrated online, The Sporting News, CBS News and dozens of others ran stories about JBU.
Rachel Fiet, assistant director of university communications, was notified by ESPN that they planned to use JBU’s video of the event on “Sports Center” and “Around the Horn.”
“This was a big deal, and I knew that students would want to be involved,” Fiet said. “We set up a TV in Walker Student Center and watched it live. It was great to see the enthusiasm in the students’ reaction.”
Within a day of airing the Toilet Paper game on ESPN, the 30-year tradition had caught the attention of over 50 news channels, blogs, radio stations, newspapers and online media. All over the country, newscasters and reports began talking about the school that threw toilet paper after the first basket of the season. The only place left for the TP game to go was global.
“I found out that the game had caught international attention when someone forwarded a link from a TV station in El Salvador that was covering the game,” said Fiet. “Last year we had a lot of TV coverage, but this year it started out as a viral video on the Internet that was then picked up by TV stations. You never know how big a game like this will be.”
Students joined in spreading the word. Graphic design major Christina Schoenrock ’13 posted footage from ESPN’s coverage onto her Facebook page. “I wanted to show my friends that my school is on national news and that I go to a pretty cool university,” Schoenrock said. “When I first came to JBU and heard about the game, I thought ‘You guys do what intentionally? That’s so cool.’ Now, I’ve been to every game.”
Several videos of the TP game can be found on YouTube, the most popular of which has been viewed more than 300,000 times.
For days after the game, Hinsey was still receiving emails and phone calls. “I talked to people from New York, North Carolina, California and even Japan!” Hinsey said. “I don’t know what next year is going to bring, but even if this was our 15 minutes of fame, then it was still great.”
JBU.edu, the official university website, recorded its highest traffic ever during the TP game media blitz. People were coming to JBU’s website to find out about the college that was behind the memorable tradition.
With or without camera crews, one thing is certain: Next year, people will once again clamor for seats and wait for the Golden Eagles to sink their first basket. And, as they have done for the last three decades, fans will hurl toilet paper onto the court and the Golden Eagles will again receive the best technical foul in college sports.
Jessa Parette Eldridge '11 is the staff editor and writer for university communications.