An unlikely place to ‘p’-erform

  (Reprinted from April 4, 2013)

  Take me out to the ballgame, where I can ski with my pee ...
  Sorry to be blunt, but there’s no genteel way to accurately describe what the Lehigh Valley IronPigs minor-league baseball team has in store for its male patrons this season. Lower-level organizations involved with the national pastime have typically swum upstream when it comes to odd promotions, but this particular one will also involve a steady stream.
  In an attempt to promote increased awareness of prostate health — that’s the official explanation anyway; let’s just call it what it really is: a bizarrely unique marketing tool — the IronPigs have installed above restroom urinals screens that will allow men to play video games while they are relieving themselves.
  What’s that you say? How can guys worry about manning game controls while they’re busy trying to control the direction of their flow? That’s just it — the games are designed to function on a hands-free basis.

  All the gamers must do is make sure there is plenty of liquid saved up in their bladders because them having to go makes everything else go — sort of a pee-for-play, if you will. First up will be an alpine skiing game, where the various twists and turns on the screen mandate that the player consume several beverages before his restroom visit, lest his skier soon find his progress on the course halted by a tree or misplaced outhouse.
  And just to fill the competitive-juice tank up a little further, recaps of player performances won’t necessarily remain private information. According to the New England News Service version of the story I saw, users will receive a score and code to enter upon completion of the game, and the highest scores will then be displayed in real time across videoboards within the ballpark so that everyone else can either marvel or mock.
  At this point, it’s important to clarify that, although you may think otherwise, this concept is not merely a figment of my own, slightly warped imagination. It originated elsewhere, but it really does exist and is set to begin, as a two-minute promotional clip I watched online assured me.
  I’m curious, however, as to whether or not the IronPigs’ brain trust has ever visited the restrooms at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa. I haven’t, but I’m guessing it’s not too much of a stretch to place them on a par with public facilities elsewhere.
  If such a comparison is indeed valid, then the brain trust should realize no one in his right mind wants to spend an excessive amount of time in an area where stench has established a monopoly. After all, a guy can only hold his breath for so long.
  The allure of baseball has little to do with the game itself or the quality of play on the field. If it did, last summer’s attendance figure at Wrigley Field wouldn’t have matched that of an area T-ball league.
  Going to the ballpark is about basking in the sunshine and experiencing the great outdoors. It’s supposed to be a relaxing recreational escape from our day-to-day norm, and no one except individuals with kinkier tendencies chooses an escape route that leads them directly into the not-so-great indoors and causes them to loiter there.
  One writer offered a theory that the IronPigs would benefit from the video games in a monetary sense, speculating that in a mad desire to keep sending their virtual Jean-Claude Killys whooshing down the slopes, many men would drink far more overpriced beer than they might otherwise. Perhaps, but if this video deal does catch on, what comes next?
  Will we soon be tossing a football around in the midst of an IRS audit? Shooting baskets inside a movie theatre? Banging on a set of drums while undergoing surgery?
  Sure, each of those scenarios sounds silly, but so was the video-can idea until someone conducted a urine analysis. Let me again remind you that there is supposedly a medical-oriented catalyst behind the IronPigs’ endeavor, which was developed in conjunction with the Lehigh Valley Health Network.
  But are guys really going to be giving their physical conditions any thought once their virtual skier begins competing? They’ll only be concerned if the latter suddenly begins resembling a statue instead of a sportsman.
  What this activity truly represents is the latest means by which we can avoid encountering a few dreaded idle seconds. For whatever reason, we’ve become a society that requires entertainment on a 24/7 basis and is addicted to busyness.
  Quiet moments are no longer desired. We seem completely unwilling to shake free from phones, texts, tweets or whatever newfangled invasion-of-privacy communications method tech companies make available to us.
  On a dinner date? Nope, not without an all-important cell-phone call to take or make. Out for a drive? Hey, let’s make sure we text our whereabouts every 10 seconds and then pray that the last destination doesn’t become our final one.
  Given the current climate, don’t be shocked if the IronPigs’ promotion becomes popular and gets copied ASAP by bandwagon-jumping marketers everywhere. And you certainly have to give the developers of the idea props for originality, a trait that’s becoming increasingly rare in today’s corporate world.
  Once upon a time, thinking outside the box was commonplace. That’s how discoveries were made, but few people these days possess that same sense of adventurous creativity. It’s much easier to borrow from a proven commodity.
  So kudos to the folks involved with the restroom video games. While I don’t anticipate visiting Coca-Cola Park, they’ve already had an influence on me.
  Whenever I hear the term “pea shooting” in the future, I’ll never again think of a kid with a straw.