Sometimes the squirrels win.
Sometimes they don't.
The national football team of the African republic of Benin, The Squirrels ("Les Ecureuils") met with an unfortunate defeat today on the playing field where they were pitted against the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
I will resist the urge to state the obvious: that even in nature, squirrels rarely have a chance in any competition against eagles. Those sharp-eyed, high-flying birds are natural predators, and their talons are formidable weapons. There are no rules of sportsmanship here; only laws of survival of the fittest and swiftest.
Still, in this heated battle of the Orange Africa Nations Cup, it would have been heartening to see the pride of Benin give local sports fans something to chatter about. Instead, Nigeria's Eagles flew to victory.
In the United Kingdom, however, squirrels gained more than just a few points on the scoreboard about a week ago: A study by the British Trust for Ornithology revealed that, despite popular fears, the presence of the non-native eastern grey squirrel in Britain has had little or no impact (and certainly minimal negative impact) on that nation's 38 or so native avian species.
In this particular duel between avians and squirrels, it appears the squirrels have energed vindicated, if not altogether victorious.
Squirrel fans are cheering this quieter, less publicized triumph for the eastern grey squirrels in the UK. The squirrels are unwelcome strangers in a strange land where they have been targeted as a vector for the deadly squirrel pox, and for driving the beloved, native reds out of their home territories.
We all needed this good news, and so did the squirrels.
Although the Squirrels of Benin missed their chance today, the eastern greys of Britain can, for now, still carry the ball.