What do you do if you can?t go when you need to?

Everybody can probably think of a time during a sporting event when nature called and they needed to relieve themselves at a most inopportune time.

Although I’ve never seen a sports column on this subject, that won’t stop me from going where no man or woman has gone before. Even if you think this column is going down the toilet, please read on.

Most sports events last anywhere from one to three hours. If you’re like most fans, you drink some beverages during a game, even if it’s nothing more than water from a fountain.

If you somehow abstain from all beverages, you’ll probably still need a restroom break at some point. It’s unfortunate when that urge for a restroom break comes at an important point in the game.

My sister and I learned this lesson while attending baseball games with our dad. It was clear that if the bases were loaded, we must stay in our seats because something important might happen.

So we spent the next few minutes earnestly praying that someone would get a big hit or make an out to end the inning.

And heaven help us if there was a pitching change, because that could make the wait even, um, more uncomfortable.

At high school and small college events, you’re never far from a restroom, although the restroom facility at Reimer Field is ill equipped to handle more than a few people at a time. That, my friends, can be a problem, especially in cold weather.

The best advice is to head to the restroom before halftime or wait until near the end of the third quarter.  If you wait until halftime, be prepared to wait.

I suppose that in an emergency one could head for the bushes and trees at the south end of the field.

The number of restrooms are more plentiful at major college and professional sporting venues, but so too are the number of fans. Plus, the distance from your stadium seat to the toilet seat can be a considerable distance, so that must be factored into the planning process.

Of course, fans aren’t alone when it comes to nature calling. Coaches, players and officials face that quandary as well.

As a basketball official, I can recall a time when a coach told me before the game that he was under the weather. He said if he left the team bench during the game it was due to an upset stomach. Nothing happened, but I doubt seriously the coach would have made it all the way to the restroom if he would have had to puke. He probably should have kept a barf bag or wastebasket close handy.

A former middle-school coach also remembered this unusual situation. The third quarter was barely under way when a ref blew his whistle and signaled a timeout. The coach asked who called a timeout?  The official told him which player; except the player was long gone.

After calling time out, the player hurriedly left the court to go to the dressing room. Apparently the three hot dogs he ate before the game were coming back to haunt him.

Officials also know the importance of taking sufficient potty breaks, because it is more than slightly embarrassing to leave the court before a game ends. For fans, the most effective way to address the problem is to drink less. But eating salty popcorn, nachos and other snacks make large-size drinks all-too-attractive.

There are advantages, of course, to watching sports on TV from the comfort of your home. You don’t have to wait in line to get a snack. You don’t have to worry about not having time to make a quick pit stop in the bathroom before the game resumes, unless of course you’re an extremely dedicated sports fan and the bases are loaded.

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