We are equestrians...if we drive by an equine in a paddock or walk by a mounted NYPD officer, we can't help but call out (or at least think) "horsie!" regardless of our age. Our ears similarly perk when we overhear others talking about our favorite equids. In the last week we heard a lot of horse-related murmurings in the media, but--dismay of dismays--they were all about basketball!
With pro sports shut down, the NBA and WNBA hosted a video-from-home tournament of a game called HORSE. Alas, the spectacle did not include any manes, hooves or turns on the forehand. Rather this playground-like contest consists of players trying to outdo themselves in basket-sinking showmanship. The first player establishes the shot with any array of fancy moves, and then the rest of the players attempt to duplicate the style in turns. If they fail to mimic the style and make the basket, they earn a letter--H for the first failure, O for the second, and so on. As each person "scores" the entire word HORSE, they are eliminated, and the last standing player who has not accumulated all the letters wins.
The game clearly has no equestrian component, so why the misleading name? One source suggests the basketball version hearkens back to a pastime of American West cowboys who used the HORSE format to show off roping prowess. Another theory is simpler: that children playing the game needed an easy way for participants to keep track of their progress toward five penalties, and chose a common animal with an uncomplicated spelling.
We didn't see the star-studded virtual HORSE tournament, but the New York Times described it in six letters: B-O-R-I-N-G. Thanks much for trying, basketball folks, but it sounds like Amos the Wonder Horse (pictured below) may be more our speed of hoop shooting.