Fishing in the Olympics?

Photo courtesy of Bassmaster Classic

As I watched Chloe Kim defy gravity on a snowboard last night, I was reminded of the splendor and the impact of the Olympics, and what it means to the compeitors who have devoted their lives to just a sliver of actual living. For Kim, it’s the half-pipe. She learned as a kid when her dad toted her up to the Sierra from their Southern California home, and she’s never stopped. She is, very clearly, the best woman in the world when it comes to riding a snowboard down a half-pipe.

Others, of course, are the best at figure skating or cross-country skiing or the luge. Being the best at these disciplines gives them the right to compete for medals every four years in what the world recognizes as the ultimate sporting festival. These narrow disciplines define the lives of these athletes.

Then, as I looked around my basement at the fishing decor on the walls and the fly rods standing in tubes in the corner and … what’s that? Yellow marabou on my jeans? … I realized that these folks are no different than anyone who is passionate about one particular thing.

I then remembered an article I’d seen recently in the Midland (Mich.) Daily News about an organized and international lobby of anglers requesting Olympic status for fishing.

Fishing. In the Olympics. Is the world ready for that? Can you imagine the PETA protests when the bass guys lip their listless catch that’s been chilling in the live well for a few hours, grinning big for the cameras? Or the “excitement” of watching the world’s best ice fishers sit over a hole they’ve drilled in the ice? Or the confusion when international teams of fly fishers descend upon a series of rivers and lakes and map out “beats” and cast hand-tied flies at trout?

If fishing were an Olympic pursuit, would it be divided by the disciplines within the discipline? Spincast? Baitcast? Ice fishing? Trolling? Fly casting? Saltwater fishing? Saltwater fly fishing?

Yes, there are millions and millions of devoted amateur anglers out there (and quite a few pros, too). But does this justify Olympic status, given the challenges it poses?

What do you think? Fishing? In the Olympics?

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.