April 25, 2009


College students try hand at Kan-Jam

Game is becoming increasingly popular

Kan-JamBob Ellis/staff photographer
John Williams, left, prepares to slap a flying disk into the can as Jerry Cook looks on. The SUNY Cortland juniors were playing a game of Kan-Jam on Clayton Avenue Friday afternoon. The game is popular among college students.

Staff Reporter

The plastic disc flew above a Clayton Avenue sidewalk, toward a plastic container that resembled a small garbage can, painted black and with a slot on the front.
A breeze caught the disc and Matt Mastin dodged to hit it with one hand. The disc bounced off the can’s side, good for one point.
“Good one,” said Jerry Cook, his housemate at 24 Clayton Ave., who was standing next to him but playing with a partner at another can 40 feet away.
Mastin, a SUNY Cortland senior, and his partner were catching up to Cook and his partner Friday afternoon.
The yellow lettering on the side said “Kan-Jam,” the name of the game that college students have been playing on the streets around campus since spring break in March.
The game was created in 1990 by two suburban Buffalo men named Paul Swisher and Charles Sciandra, who wanted a game to play at picnics or Buffalo Bills tailgate parties. They used regular trash cans and Frisbee discs.
Their game is now manufactured by a North Tonawanda company called Kan-Jam and is sold through Dick’s and Wal-Mart. The cost for the two cans and the disc is $40.
The point system is as follows: one point for slapping the disc into the can’s side, two points for slapping it into the can while hitting the edge, three points for hitting it into the can without touching the sides.
Toss the disc right into the can or into the slot on the front, you win the game.
Mastin, Cook and their housemates play to 21 points.
“We’re restricted by the telephone poles,” Mastin said, indicating poles next to driveways on either side of the house.
Using the sidewalk as an arena also means they cannot play while holding a beer bottle, a preferred method at houses where students play on the lawn.
Over at 30 Lincoln Ave., SUNY Cortland junior Kevin Sackett and seniors Matt Champion, Zack Bogardus and Trevor Gale played using the same rules. They said students at other houses in the neighborhood use variations.
The four sometimes play using their weaker hand to throw, to make the game more challenging.
Champion, who is from Rochester, said he has played Kan-Jam for three years, often after work during the summer at a construction company.
“A lot of times, you don’t realize the disc will go in on its own and you slam it when you didn’t need to,” Sackett said.
Sometimes a shot is low and steady, seemingly destined for the can — and the player botches it, missing the can entirely.
Mastin and his partner won Friday, but Cook said he has fired the disc into the slot a couple of times to instantly win. The two and their housemates said before getting Kan-Jam, they just threw a disc around or tossed a football.


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