My first thought when reading about donkey ball was, “what are the odds this isn’t from the Middle East?” My second thought, after realizing how obvious it was that it’s played in rural America, was, “how can we get this on TV?”
(It’s like trying to teach Vince Carter to hustle.)
So, who knew? Apparently donkey ball has been played in this country since the ’50s, when those first brave Americans taught their asses to play basketball. Actually, you can’t really teach a donkey much, so you just hope it wanders near the basketball for you to take a shot.
Video of our new favorite sport, after the jump.
Clearly most of the fun springs from the donkey’s inability to heed instructions, and the rider’s inability to physically force his mount to do anything.
But there are rules: two teams of four, no dribbling, and you must be atop your donkey to pass or shoot. And it’s not a full contact game, so no donkey punching.
Since it’s obviously such a blast for players and fans, of course PETA has to get involved to ruin everyone’s fun. They’ve forced cancellation of events across the country.
“Donkeys have no place in a gym,” said Kristie Phelps, a PETA spokeswoman. “They are very easily confused, and they have no idea what’s going on.”
But, an actual expert, who actually studies animals, disputes that.
Camie Heleski, an instructor in Michigan State’s Department of Animal Science who has studied donkey behavior, described the game as mostly harmless. “I think it is probably somewhat confusing to the donkey,” Heleski said, but no more than pony rides or novice horseback-riding lessons are to those animals. Unlike horses, she said, donkeys tend to be calm and stoic. “And if they get confused,” she said, “they just plain stop.”
Between animals rights groups and liability issues, no one expects donkey ball to last much longer. So buy your tickets, and carrots, now.