Earlier this year the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) announced that it had added high school bass fishing as a state championship sport.
And Kentucky isn't even the first state to do so. According to a recent article in USA Today, Illinois high school participation in the sport has grown from 199 schools to 232 over the past four years.
Dan Gannaway, former Illinois High School Association (IHSA) assistant executive director who helped helped bass fishing become a state championship event first in Illinois and now in Kentucky says:
"It's more than just going out in a boat and throwing a lure in the water. It's trying to teach the kids the sciences about fishing. There's a lot of science involved in fishing, whether people believe it or not. Water temperature and clarity and dealing with all of that relative to color, where the oxygen is in the water at different times."
Reported early concerns are student safety, liability, and availability of suitable equipment, including bass boats. Also, reports USA Today:
In addition to having a valid Kentucky fishing license, each participant will be required to join Student Angler Federation (SAF), an arm of The Bass Federation that organizes numerous youth fishing tournaments around the country.
Mark Gintert, national youth director with The Bass Federation, isn't worried:
"I tell people, and this may sound kind of simplistic, but I tell people this is just exactly like the Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come," he said. "Now you may have to work a little bit to get your volunteers, but once you publicize to the world that you have a school fishing club and you need some help, you'll get those volunteers."
And, he added,
"The great thing about fishing is it's the greatest equal opportunity sport in America," Gintert said. "It's a Title IX dream for a school. It doesn't matter if you're a girl, a boy, if you're four-foot-six or six-foot-four, 300 pounds or 30 pounds, that fish has no idea who's on the end of that rod….So boys and girls can stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, and fish in these tournaments and win."