Acclaimed tradition brings University fame

How does a basketball game at a Christian college of just over 1,300 undergrad students make it onto national news? Toilet paper.

The first home game of the John Brown University Golden Eagles’ men’s basketball season will be played this Saturday, which means the crowd will look to continue its 34-year-old tradition of emphatically tossing approximately 2,000 rolls of toilet paper onto the basketball court, immediately after the team’s first basket.

The game, which has come to be known as the “TP Game,” has gained a reputation so noteworthy that many national sports outlets such as ESPN, NBC Sports and USA Today have covered the event (the last of which called the tradition the “Best technical foul in all of sports”).

This year, the University is partnering with the toilet paper producer Charmin for sponsorship.

It is obvious the crowd and broadcasters alike love this antic. The players on the men’s basketball team hope to give the crowd a reason to continue the tradition that will happen in a couple days.

“The tradition has a real good fan base,” guard Marquis Waller said. “The whole school and everyone in this town knows about it, so we’ve got 100 percent fan support.”

As Waller pointed out, the tradition is not only popular within the University itself, but also in Siloam Springs and the surrounding areas.

“Everyone comes here for the TP game,” guard Josh Rhodius said. “Everyone’s there to see the team and see the first bucket of the season. Families are coming out…the whole school comes out.”

While the tossing of the toilet paper itself is the real draw to come to the game, there are other factors that play into how great the game is as well.

Rhodius mentioned that everything leading up to that moment contributes to the unique atmosphere of the night.

“You could feel it in the stands, and it carried out onto the team,” he said about last year’s game. “Even the opposing team knows. It gets exciting. Everyone is just waiting for that first basket. The suspense is crazy. It’s a great experience.”

Every year the tradition continues and there’s no telling how long the game will go until the first basket.

Last year, the Golden Eagles played for nearly two and a half minutes, which included free throws, before making the basket that cued the toilet paper.

“It’s kind of fun to see it build up,” forward Nate Anderson said. “We don’t want it to, but if we miss a couple shots, everyone in the crowd gets anxious, holding onto those rolls.”

Once the basket is made, a blizzard of Charmin, Cottonelle and Quilted Northern envelops the court amid the crowd’s ferocious roar. Anderson said it is a sight to behold.

“When I first did it, it was the craziest thing, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” he said. “It’s a cool experience to see all the toilet paper come down, be in the middle of it and be hit by a couple rolls even.”

For all but four members of the team, it will be their first time to experience the tradition. Waller, a freshman, is very excited about the TP game.

“Right now, I’m just thinking about all the toilet paper that’s gonna be thrown,” he said. “It’s gonna be a crazy sight. I’ve seen videos from the last season and the season before that, and it’s gonna be a really good experience for most of the players. I want to experience it too.”

While the players are definitely excited about continuing the tradition, Rhodius mentioned that there is a strong and important sense of community in such an event.

“The whole school comes out,” Rhodius said. “We definitely need [community] in our JBU sports, whether it’s the soccer teams, the volleyball teams or the basketball teams. Whatever it is, we’re a small school, and we can do better if everyone sticks together and supports each other.”