Flattland - "Check The Progress Of Your Ferret!"

Continuing his worldwide search for ridiculous sports, .NET's Trav Flatt is NOT satisfied with Squirrel Fishing and Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling. No! Trav takes us to England for a look at...well, something you just won't believe.

It seems that the following of this particular column has gone international. Actually, I think we already had Angry Canadians after that whole “Patrick Roy” thing, but this time I’m talking about overseas. This enables the writer to embarrass himself on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.

British Reader “Dave” chimed in recently to inform me that the Seattle Seahawks do indeed have a worldwide following. This was mildly surprising, considering that in the rest of the world “Football” means “Soccer”. Now, considering that the majority of my knowledge vis-à-vis English Culture involves viewing Monty Python, I cannot say whether or not Seahawk Fandom is common. In light of the fact that finding that out would involve some actual work, I’ll swiftly dismiss that statistic as unimportant.

In any event, that is not the point. What concerned Reader Dave was my apparent fascination with the sport of ferret racing. He was kind enough to fill me in on the details of the sport, which involves a “series of pipework with a few glass sections” for the purpose of “checking the progress of your ferret”. Spectators bet on which ferret will be the first to emerge from said ferret’s pipe.

Unfortunately, it seems that the ferret athletic work ethic seems a bit wanting, as the ferrets are in no particular hurry to emerge from the pipe. “Usually several minutes later” was the estimate given, and I have to concede that this does make for a rather dull spectator sport. I am not particularly inclined to waste several minutes checking the progress of my ferret. (“Go! GOOOO!”) I presume hooking up an air compressor to one end of the pipe is against the rules, and ferret racers should note that I do not, and I repeat, DO NOT condone attempting this in order to launch (“Thwoomp!”) a disgruntled ferret into a crowd of spectators.

Reader Dave went on to supply a comment which caught my attention:

“Hence the old English custom of sticking a ferret down your trousers.”

Now, having gone to the Monty Python School of English Culture, I said to myself, “Ha ha! That Reader Dave is one funny guy!” I naturally assumed that he was kidding in order to make up for smashing my image of ferret racing as a Benny Hill-esque sport, possibly set to the tune of ‘Yakkity Sax’.

I was incorrect.

A little bit of research turned up something which caused me to utter the same astonished phrase I would utter if someone had just fired upon me with an air compressor-affixed ferret tube (Note: Ferret-racers, do NOT attempt this!), which is a phrase I cannot repeat here because Editor Doug would fire me and this pertinent information would no longer be available to the international audience (Editor's note: Well, as long as you're performing a public service...).

It just so happens that ‘Ferret-Legging’ is an actual sport. The rules basically involve tying off the bottom of one’s pants legs, inserting a pair of (likely unhappy) ferrets, tie the pants shut, and attempting to stand there for the judges (yes) for as long as possible while the ferrets scamper around with pointy claws and needle-sharp teeth, expressing their lack of joy in the situation. Ferret-leggers are only allowed to “dislodge” the ferrets from the outside of their trousers. That this is referenced as an ‘English Pub Sport’ is hardly surprising, considering that I cannot imagine the invention of this activity preceding the invention of alcohol.

I ended up reading an old article by Don Katz, in which he interviewed the World Record Ferret-Legging Holder, one Reg Mellor. Mellor’s quoted comments have led me to believe that this particular sport is more the result of a psychological disorder than a result of the coincidental convergence of boredom, beer, and a ferret.

Here are the two comments which most readily grabbed my eye:

“No underpants.”

“You must be sober.”

Mellor ended up shattering the previous record of sixty seconds with a ferret-leg marathon showing of five hours and twenty-six minutes. I cannot personally envision even doing something NICE to myself for five and a half hours, much less turning rampaging ferrets loose on my personal regions.

This sport obviously has to make its way over to ESPN. I am now accepting support to begin the promotion of the North American Ferret-Legging Association. In a demographic where ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘Ryan Seacrest’ are popular, I have no doubts that competitive ferret-legging can be enormously successful. I am also now accepting merchandising suggestions.

The ONLY thing standing in the way of widespread Ferret-Legging success is, of course, activists. According to the NSW Ferret Welfare Society Code of Ethics, which you can look up since you’re probably not going to believe it exists, cites the following very specifically:

Ferret Image: NSWFWS members agree to help project the image of ferrets in a positive light and to steer away from ferret-legging or other activities which perpetuate the poor public image of ferrets as pets.” (Emphasis mine.)

Thus, there will be obstacles on the road to securing Ferret-Legging as a popular spectator sport. However, I have faith that the marketing potential inherent in this fascinating sport can certainly triumph over even such powerful entities as the Ferret Advocacy.

Fire off your scintillating insights, inquiries, and other fun things to do with an air compressor to trav@spinn.net

Trav Flatt


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