Boasting that “bass fishing is the best equal opportunity sport that there is” the state of Kentucky has become the second state to make competitive bass fishing a sanctioned sport in its high schools. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association will now recognize high school bass fishing on the same level as basketball, football, baseball, softball and other high school sports and allow individual schools to compete for area, region and state championships.
Kentucky is the second state, after Illinois, to sanction bass fishing competition on the high school level. Illinois began offering bass fishing in its high schools in 2008 and this year has 240 high schools in the state participating.
High schools across Kentucky are now scrambling to put together teams. About 60 of Kentucky’s 220 high schools have expressed interest in fielding teams thus far.
KHSAA officials say that adding bass fishing to the curriculum at high schools will make it possible for many students that don’t currently compete in any sport to finally find their niche. The KHSAA also added bowling as a sanctioned sport and will add archery next year.
In a time when many schools are strapped for athletic funds many believe that high school bass fishing is a sport that can take care of itself. Numerous school districts report that volunteers are stepping forward wanting to help.
Mark Gintert, national youth director for the BA.S.S. Federation, told the Herald-Leader not to worry, help will come.
“I tell people this is like the Field of Dreams: if you build these events, volunteers will come to help you,” he said. “Usually, there’s someone in the school who likes fishing and will become the faculty adviser for that team, and they will find others to help out.
“And don’t think every kid needs to fish out of a $50,000 bass boat. We’ve had people come to our events with camouflage duck boats, which are perfectly acceptable.”
He said fishing is the only high school sport that doesn’t discriminate.
“Fishing is the greatest equal opportunity sport there is,” he said. “That fish has no idea if you’re a girl or a boy, if your six feet-four or four-foot-six. A girl can stand right in there beside a boy in the front of a boat and be catching fish. It makes no difference whatsoever.”