Ratsketball, Anyone?

By Fred

I tend to ignore any ball that won’t fit under the couch, so when I sat on the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, I was astounded to see vermin basketball on the front page.

The Science Museum of Virginia’s assistant director, Laura Kramer, apparently had nothing better to do with 4-5 months than teach rats the game.

The rodents’ court is a Lucite aquarium with hoops at each end, and it isn’t regulation-size. But I guess rats on a real basketball court would just take off and infest the place.

The rats hold a little Whiffle ball in their teeth and run with it because they’re not tall enough to dribble. When they shoot at their netless hoops (nets would just get gnawed off), if the ball goes in, the rat player follows it through in a maneuver Kramer calls the “body dunk.”

Their games last 5 minutes, and only 2 rats play at a time. Currently, the museum has 5 rats who take turns playing twice a day. Two other rats are bench-warmers for failing to grasp the intricacies of the game.

Just in case you’re thinking these rats play for the love of the game, they’re really motivated by Post Grape-Nuts cereal. They get a treat for every basket. While one rat chomps his reward, the other rat steals the ball to score and get his treat. If they keep it up, they’ll soon be looking like sumo wrestlers.

I wouldn’t mind showing rats how cats play sports. We’d punt them through the stairway banister, bat them around the bedroom, lob them across the living room, and slap shot them under the sink. They’d have a ball!

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