May 19, 2008, 10:01AM

Wal-Mart Invents A College Sport

Trouble paying tuition? Time to dust off the old fishing pole, because Wal-Mart and an affiliated outdoors company are funding the first ever collegiate bass fishing competition, complete with million dollar prizes. Unlike football and basketball, here the NCAA has declined to protect the antiquated notion of "amateur" athletics.

"“This is just a natural extension to have young people involved in our sport,” Evans said. “Colleges compete in tournament sports. But here is a sport where young men and young women can compete together at the collegiate level on a level playing field. The potential for growth is absolutely phenomenal.” There are other college bass fishing outlets for which anglers must supply their own boats and pay for their own travel and lodging. For this tour, FLW will provide teams their own Ranger boats and observers, and every participating team will get a travel allowance. FLW will award college scholarships to the top five teams in each event. Also, FLW will provide the national champion team its own Ranger bass boat and Chevrolet truck, wrapped in their school colors.

The cost for all of this: zero. FLW will foot the bill for any team that participates on the following conditions. Only fulltime students who belong to a fishing club recognized by a four-year college or university. All club members also must belong to FLW Outdoors.

Last summer, when college bass fishing seemed to be gaining a little momentum, I called the NCAA to see if they foresaw a conflict with college bass tournaments. Fishing is a club sport, I was told, and the NCAA is not interested in it whatsoever.

Even so, the ramifications for college athletics could be huge. For as long as I can remember, college football and basketball players have insisted they should be paid. Now competitors in an unsanctioned sport will get a chance to compete professionally for $ 1 million, with corporations footing the entire bill. If a college angler actually wins the Forrest Wood Cup, and it will happen eventually, just as a BASS Federation angler eventually won the Bassmaster Classic, football and basketball players might not be too happy about it. Ultimately, the FLW collegiate tour might be the catalyst that brings about some restructuring of college athletics.




Register or Login to leave a comment