There were approximately 50 people in the old Hot Spings gym Friday to watch and support the senior class take on the staff, juniors, and a team known as “random misfits” in several friendly and fun games of donkey basketball.
The rules were in some ways familiar to basketball; not staying in the key for more than three seconds, a whistle blown and a jump ball to start the game, when the ball goes into the basket from many places inside the key it gives your team the points. If there is a loose basketball, players have to take their donkey with them to retrieve it. What? Wait a minute here. Take the donkey to get the loose basketball?
Okay, so some of the rules were the same as regular basketball and some were only specific to donkey basketball.
Each team had to put four riders on donkeys and one person in the center of the basketball court to throw the basketball to riders. That was the easy part of the rules. All of those with two legs nodded in agreement and understanding with the rules and how to play the game. The four-footed players had a mind of their own and, at times, would move or not move where and when they were wanted. Riders could be seen suddenly dismounting and trying to stop the donkey to remount it, only to find the donkey had not stopped walking. Other times the donkey suddenly changed direction and pace and was not responding to the tugging of the reins or the “hold on there” vocalized by the riders. Each game had two five-minute halves where the riders could dismount and take breaks to stretch, strategize, and, if necessary, attempt to revise their game plan if they had one lined out.
The scores were not very high as the donkeys were in no particular hurry to get up and down the court. The main referee had informed the riders during a briefing before the games had begun, “You don’t want to ride too far back on the donkeys as they may buck suddenly, so ride either in the middle or close to the front. Also, don’t put your hand near there mouth as they may bite you. They sense things more by smell and not really by their eyes.”
Perhaps the donkeys were confused by the very different and unique smells in an old, musty gym; as they often moved faster or slower depending on where they were on the gym floor.
The staff and seniors battled in the first game and the staff had defeated the seniors. The juniors and staff played another game; with the juniors scoring a total of 16 points while the staff had a total of eight points. After a time, the score was not as important as the laughter and entertainment provided by the riders and donkeys. In the end, it was very clear that this event remains a popular one and was enjoyed by many people, those who rode the donkeys and those who watched the games.