Game Time: When Good Practical Jokes Go Bad

I like a good practical joke as much as the next guy, just as long as it entails the following two things -- (1) the target of the joke winds up embarrassed beyond belief, and (2) I am not said target.

Way back in the day, there was a show called Candid Camera (and make no mistake, the fact that I feel like I'm bringing it up and over half of you have never seen nor maybe even heard of it makes me feel old) which played the occasional practical joke on some unsuspecting person and filmed the whole thing on a hidden camera, at which point we all had a good chuckle.

Eventually, that concept was taken to the next level by Punk'd, where Ashton Kutcher would clown his celebrity friends by making them think their motorcycles had been run over and stuff like that. Some of these were very funny, some of them fell flat, others outright failed. Hell, one of them even cost Joe Reitman one of the finest pieces of ass in the free world, as he agreed to comply with a prank whereby his then-wife Shannon Elizabeth would think she was captured on a celebrity sex tape. When the two eventually divorced, she cited his being complicit in that prank as one of the reasons for their irreconcilable differences.

Perhaps the best venue for the average American to get their prank fix these days is on, where two of their staffers Streeter and Amir are engaged in a back-and-forth war of some of the most extravagant pranks we've ever seen. My personal favorite -- "The Yankee Prankee", where Amir sets up Streeter at a Yankee game by posting a fake proposal from Streeter to his girlfriend. Streeter's girlfriend thinks it's real, he tells her it's not, and all hell breaks loose.

Well, the retaliation from Streeter was outstanding. Behold, the $500,000 half-court shot....

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Absolutely ruthless. And so now the volley is back in Amir's court. I couldn't imagine going through life knowing that it's my turn to be targeted in a prank war. It's like knowing that there's a mob hit out on you. I'd never want to leave the house.

Now, the problem with any great prank like this is that it will spawn "copy cat" pranksters, and if anything should have a figurative "Kids, Don't Try This At Home" label attached to it, it's a good prank.

Perhaps if this half-court shot prank came with said warning we wouldn't have had the kids at Olathe Northwest High School in suburban Kansas City try to get their funny on and clown their coach/teacher, former KU walk-on Joel Branstrom, by telling him if he made this half court shot blindfolded he'd get Final Four tickets for this season....

That's right, kids...TAKE 'AT!!! The funny thing is you can tell by his casual, "blowing kisses to the crowd" body language that Branstrom is just playing along with a bunch of kids who haven't the faintest clue on fooling somebody. In fact, Branstrom even said he didn't realize until several minutes later that he did actually make the shot.

So now what do you do? Dude made the shot. Techincally, he has a verbal contract with the Olathe Northwest pep assembly, and as Cosmo Kramer says "if we can't take each other at our word, all is lost." Kids, you OWE the guy a trip to the Final Four!!

Apparently, unable to scrape together the thousands of dollars a weekend in Indy for the Final Four would run, the kids decided to get him a gift card to a local Mexican restuarant. I have to say, those better be some pretty freaking good enchiladas to replace a Final Four trip.

Kids, please, next time don't try this at home, or if you're gonna be that stupid to put yourself out there like that, at least buy the insurance.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast