I am very uncomfortable with the FLW starting high school fishing on the national level, and I say that as somebody who is a huge supporter of Illinois' ground-breaking high school bass fishing championship; In fact I broke the story on it for the Sun-Times.
The FLW should not be taking the lead on high school bass fishing. It feels wrong. And it is wrong.
Just read to the end of the press release below and you will notice how wrong it feels. This feels like more about the FLW than anything.
Though state high school athletic associations have plenty of their own problems, they are the bureacracies that should be setting up state-level competitive high school fishing.
In particular the IHSA has shown itself quite capable of putting on a successful state fishing championship. The IHSA is the model for this.
Here's the word from FLW:
FLW OUTDOORS, TBF LAUNCH LARGEST STUDENT FISHING CAMPAIGN IN HISTORY
National High School Fishing program to be operated by TBF, FLW Outdoors
MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 27, 2011) --FLW Outdoors, in conjunction with The Bass Federation (TBF)-Student Angler Federation (SAF), has announced the formation of the National High School Fishing program, the largest student-angler initiative in history.
The national High School Fishing program will allow students at more than 23,000 high schools across the United States and Canada the opportunity to compete at a high level, gain valuable experience and earn scholarships to benefit their continued education.
"High School Fishing is the natural progression from our successful National Guard FLW College Fishing program," said Kathy Fennel, president, FLW Outdoors Operations Division. "With TBF heading up the state championships and FLW Outdoors leading the way at regional championships and the national championship, we are able to provide a comprehensive program that will help connect students to our nation's natural resources while also providing a new sport for young men and women alike that will give students an even stronger connection to their schools."
The High School Fishing program will begin with a High School State Championship for every state in the continental United States and the province of Ontario, Canada. Two-person teams from grades 9 through 12 will compete and be paired with a "coach" who will provide a boat for competition.
The winning team from each state championship will advance to a High School Fishing Regional Championship that will be held in conjunction with a National Guard FLW College Fishing Regional Championship on a college campus. The winning team from each regional championship will advance to the High School Fishing National Championship, which will be held on a college campus in conjunction with the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship. Boats and a travel allowance will be provided for the teams advancing to the regional and national championships.
The winners of the High School Fishing National Championship will each receive a $5,000 scholarship for use at a university of his or her choice. All SAF members and High School Fishing State Championship contestants automatically qualify for High School Fishing's largest event, the 2011 SAF High School Fishing World Finals, which will be held July 20-23 on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark.
"The Federation was founded on three core principles: youth, conservation and fishing," said TBF President Robert Cartlidge. "For more than four decades, we've been the leader in youth fishing programs. This is the next step for us and for our great partnership with FLW Outdoors. Through our Student Angler Federation, we'll provide every high school club and angler who enters a High School Fishing State Championship with full TBF and FLW Outdoors member benefits, including the all-new FLW Outdoors Magazine e-Edition, TBF insurance coverage while competing and educational material on math, science and language arts and why they're important to fishing and life. We will also provide advancement to the nation's premier fishing events. So, it's not simply about another fishing tournament. It's about fishing, education and family fun. Prizes will consist of trophies, sponsor products and significant scholarships, which can help these young anglers prosper."
All state championships require a $25 entry fee per person. Current TBF-SAF high school club members fish for free. All competitors receive full SAF member benefits, including TBF and FLW Outdoors memberships with their entry fees. Member benefits include newsletters, resources, product discounts and access to FLW Outdoors Magazine e-Edition, plus a free Player's Advantage membership in FantasyFishing.com <http://www.fantasyfishing.com> , which offers more than $500,000 in cash and prizes in 2011.
To register for your High School Fishing State Championship and for more information about how to start an SAF High School Fishing club, visit HighSchoolFishing.org <http://www.highschoolfishing.org/> .