Kentucky thrust itself to the forefront in national education reform last week when it announced it would become only the second state to teach bass fishing in high school and to sport fish in competition.
I think high school sport fishing has something to do with cheerleading. If you do have high school fishing tournaments, then the cheerleaders over on the bank shaking their jigs would have to be quiet, yea, silent. I haven't been fishing in a long time, but I reckon you still have to be sort of quiet, and quieting cheerleaders is indeed an educational reform.
Or maybe our educational leaders are merely trying to create a new career track as promising as cheerleading. All the great fortunes are in minerals. You seldom hear of a cheerleading fortune or a bass fishing fortune. But you do have to admit, cheerleaders do marry pretty well the first time. People who fish a lot get married too, but are usually not fanatics about it.
Bass fishing as a school subject will get a lot of kids out on the lake where they can hunt small and large mouths instead of the ones they had been hunting back in the hall. While school bass fishing will be open to either girls or boys and people of any color, it is particularly attractive to school psychologists because it gives young white males something they can be good at. Girls are expected to fish slower than boys and their tourneys will be announced on television by that central casting girl who has real short hair and wears Dockers who we now hear all the time doing other girl sports.
The only thing the parent of a fisher person need provide for the kid to take to school is a $23,000 bass boat with a large Evinrude; several thousand dollars in compressed fiber sticks; a thing called a reel, which used to work, but now is packed with switches and knobs and things to adjust and is not like a cane pole at all; a large box with thousands of little painted stuff with hooks on them; and a cooler for the beer.
You don't suppose the school board has enough money to supply all that stuff, plus the additional money to buy large fish and tie them out underwater somewhere for the regional?
At least they won't be doing that catch-and-release stuff. For those of you who think catch and release refers to Newt Gingrich's marriage habits, no, I am talking about the morally wrong thing they do on fishing shows of catching a big yummy fish, hurting its mouth, waving it in the air like an American soldier on a bridge and putting it back in the water with a little pat on the back to swim terrorized back to the other fish.
I grew up in Gratz, a remarkable little tobacco town, yet also a fishing village, on the lower Kentucky River between Six Mile and Drennon. My friend James Leary Stewart spent over 40 years fishing for a living, wrestling those nets in the cold and wet, and Ruby spent 40 years cleaning those fish and selling them. But they never put one back as long as there was anybody hungry in the community.
Students who are championship fisher people, who maybe could fish up to the next level, will be subject to the waiver of the rules about lying, which fishers are traditionally allowed. Thus, when they get bored with fishing, they will make good politicians — fishers of men.
School fishing is going to be both a good spectator sport and another way of keeping kids away from their own parents and under the influence of the arrested-development crowd.
Larry Webster is a Pikeville attorney. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org