Our family filed into the high school gymnasium. There were twelve of us. The ages ranged from my 97 year old uncle down to my 5 year old fourth cousin. Pat promised this would be hilarity for all ages. I was skeptical. While "Horse" was fun to play with my children, watching it may have been a little sleep inducing.
We sat on the bleachers watching the players warm up for the game. They weren't doing the usual sink the basketball in the hoop warm up. They were laughing, slapping each other on the back and pulling helmets on their heads. Helmets?
Suddenly the side door popped open and in sauntered eight long eared, furry, real live donkeys. My face was a mask of confusion. Pat explained the teams had to ride the donkeys.
That explained the helmets.
The teams were announced. It was the high school "Jocks" verses the "Firefighters". The donkeys were introduced as well. They had enlightening names such as Ex-lax and Hemorrhoid. A city council woman was presented. She was the clean-up crew. Her weapons were a large shovel with a roll of toilet paper on the handle and a broom. Bet she didn't see this coming when she was elected.
Rules were explained. You must be on your donkey to pass the ball and to shoot. You must be in contact with your donkey at all times. Meaning you could get off and pull the donkey to pick up the ball. Do not go behind your donkey. He will kick. It sounded easy enough.
A basketball roughly half the size of a regulation one was bounced to the ceiling signaling the beginning of the game. Players perched atop their donkeys scrambled for the ball. Donkeys are not in a hurry, if they move at all. A couple of jocks jumped off their donkeys attempting to pull their donkeys to the elusive ball. Even the bulging muscles of the jocks couldn't inch the donkey forward. In fact Hemorrhoid was already tired of having a muscle bound male astride him. Hemorrhoid put his head down and dumped the rider on the floor.
The game continued with some riders successfully coaxing their donkeys to the ball and making some passes to teammates. However other donkeys were stubborn as, well, asses. No amount of gentle kicking to their side or flapping of the reins would convince them to uproot themselves and go down the court. The referee (the donkeys' owner) carried a thin stick which he would swat on the backside of the donkey. The stubborn donkey would charge off down the court not bothering to stop where the rider demanded.
One firefighter was not a basketball player in his former life. His passing was way off the mark. He actually hit an unsuspecting donkey in the face. This resulted in a technical foul that stopped the game. The offending firefighter had to dismount from his donkey and apologize to the hurt donkey. As the game continued the same firefighter passed another ball into the face of an innocent donkey. Another apology was demanded as well as an apology kiss to the donkey's nose.
The laughs continued with riders struggling for minutes at a time to convince their donkeys to pick up their hooves and move. While other riders spent the majority of their game dumped on the floor. One unfortunate rider was tossed to the floor losing his grip on the reins. The donkey took off at break neck speed right out the door leading to freedom and fresh air. The helmeted rider dashed after the donkey as well as two bystanders. Eight minutes later the donkey was back in the game with the firefighter astride him. I wondered if they were chasing the donkey the entire time or did both take an unseen rest?
What about the city council woman on poop detail? Her shovel and broom were kept in constant use. Afternoon games are typically full of "waste." She came out with a smile and shoveled. At least the first few times. By the end of the game I'm pretty sure she was gritting her teeth and keeping a clothes pin on her nose.
The final score of game was Jocks 12-Firefighters 8. It is difficult to have a high scoring basketball game with a portion of the players flung to the floor every few minutes. The players ended the game with smiles on their faces and I'm certain bruises on their bodies. We spectators had other problems. Our sides hurt from laughing too much. I'm told that's exercise. My kind of exercise.
If the opportunity presents itself to watch a Donkey basketball game, I would highly recommend it. If you ever have the chance to play in one, let me know. I'll be sure to come get my exercise watching you.