Playing donkey basketball is a lot like trying to play basketball while riding a donkey. If that seems obvious, then you're a step ahead of me.
When I was approached about taking part in a donkey basketball game by my co-worker, Amy, I did not hesitate for even the briefest of moments. It sounded like fun and it was for a good cause, so why not? Well on Wednesday, I got my answer. I've played hours and hours of basketball throughout my life, but I have not once ridden on a donkey. Nor have I ever thought about combining the two.
Prior to the start of the event, riders are instructed on the rules of the game as well as what not to do. For instance, don't stand behind the donkey because it really wants to kick you. That sort of thing. The explanation of all this (mostly on what not to do in order to remain uninjured) lasted roughly half an hour. No kidding. It took half an hour to tell riders how to remain in one piece and recount stories of past riders who had not. Toward the end of the warnings I turned to one of my teammates and said, "this sounds way more terrifying than you'd think." To which he replied, "Ah, it isn't that bad." And he was right.
Somehow my team was designated to play in the first game, and I was designated to be one of the first four from my team to hop on a donkey. I was a starter in a "game" I'd never known existed. Not being the tallest of men, the donkey wrangler chose a tiny donkey for me to ride. Others may have found that to be emasculating, but I was relieved. My donkey was tiny and sweet.
The wrangler/referee called the game on and everyone scrambled for the ball that was positioned mid-court. Honestly, I have no idea which team got there first. I just knew it was time to hop on my donkey and get to work. So I did and before I knew it, I'd scored a basket. Like I said, I've played a lot of basketball; for organized teams and everything, so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with the sound of cheering following a successful attempt on the basket. This was different though. I drove down court, up the lane and threw a layup off the board and through the net...on a donkey. Of course, that exciting sequence of events happened at the break neck speed of less than a mile an hour, but it was still a blast.
The Madison County Record team ended up winning the game, against the famed "Lawnmower Boys" no less. It was all in good fun and there's something even more satisfying about a high five that comes from winning a game shortly after dismounting a small horse-like animal.
The Record team made it into the championship game and spent the other playoff game before it strategizing on how we'd take the final win. Actually, we all sat in different parts of the gym, laughing and cheering with our respective friends and families. I'm sure winning was on all our minds though.
By the time the final game had come and gone, we stood the victors. I have no idea what the score of any of the games ended up being, but I did score six points. I'll never forget that.
I've taken part in a lot of charity events, but this one took the cake. This one was simply the most fun I've ever had while, at the same time, helping out someone else. The event benefited the Arkansas Stray Dogs. They're a summer youth basketball league, and I hope that the spectacle of a varied collection of fellow Madison County residents making fools of themselves by falling off donkeys and scrambling for a tiny basketball did what it needed to to help them reach their goal.
If it didn't, I'm down for a rematch. Not quite yet though. I'm a little sore. Those donkeys didn't come with saddles.