As I stayed up at night and watched the undeniable success of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games; I couldn’t stop wondering why one of the supposedly most popular sports on the planet; one that counts 40 million participants in the USA alone, 25 million in Europe and so many more million in the rest of the world, received absolutely no expression in the biggest and most mediated sporting event of our planet!
302 events in 36 disciplines took place during the summer Olympics. Many of these were outdoor sports that have a similar expression to Sport Fishing: Namely: Archery, Canoe/Kayak, Mountain Biking, Sailing and Shooting.
48 events took place in the above disciplines involving men and women and this meant that 48 Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals were there for the taking.
National governments do not really differentiate at the end of the day if medals are won by their athletes in the 100 metres race or in Olympic Trap Shooting. What they wish for are Medals, in Numbers! To this effect, Millions of Dollars, Euros and Pounds are made available for each discipline for the training of the National athletes, the promotion and the recruitment, in the search of yet another medal that will position the aspiring country in a higher ranking in the final medal count. Olympic medals mean political gain at national, regional and local authority level.
The following sports, though not contested in the Olympic Games, are recognized as Olympic sports by the IOC:
Air sports, Bandy, Baseball, Billiard Sports, Boules, Bowling, Bridge, Chess, Climbing, Cricket, Dance Sport, Golf, Karate, Korfball, Lifesaving, Motorcycle Sports, Netball, Orienteering, Pelote Basque, Polo, Power Boating, Racquetball, Roller Sports, Rugby, Softball, Squash, Sumo, Surfing, Tug of War, Underwater Sports, Water Skiing and Wushu.
Once again, no Sport Fishing related sport is to be found in the above list.
An international multi-sport event, The World Games, backed by the IOC has included Casting Sport: The World Games 2005 in Duisburg, Germany featured Fly Accuracy, Fly Distance and Spinning Accuracy on an Aarenberg target but no events are planned in Casting Sport for the 2009 Games that will be held in Kaohsiung, R.O.C in 2009.
With the IOC keen on keeping the number of athletes participating in the summer Olympic Games capped at 10500 and Casting Sport not recognized as an Olympic sport, I doubt if we will ever see that discipline figuring in any Olympic event in the near or distant future.
I was recently discussing the matter with a personal friend who at the time was working with British Shooting, the governing body for all target shooting in the UK. My friend enlightened me on the enormous sums made available by the British government through National Lottery grants for the pursuit of medals. He also expressed his personal feeling that Sport Fishing or Angling, although gigantic in worldwide participation could never become Olympic Sports as they were too random in their results and were also considered as blood sports which naturally didn’t help in the matter.
So: Do we have a solution or should we abandon any intention of ever seeing a discipline related to the source of revenue of our declining trade featured in the biggest sporting event on Earth?
The solution could lie in the study of an Olympic Sport such as Biathlon: A winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. 10 Biathlon events take place at every winter Olympics.
Should our governing bodies such as ASA, EFTTA and the International Federations such as CIPS and FIPS not be considering the creation of a new Sport Fishing related sport, combining some athletic capacities such as rock climbing, long distance running and Kayaking with Target Casting? The possibilities are immense: All that is needed is a plan!
In view of the present interest and dynamism shown by our governing bodies, I question however if there are any plans!
After all, it’s clear that Sport Fishing in Europe does not need any further promotion, development or new recruits. One just needs to ask any distributor or dealer in the UK, in France, In Spain, in Germany, in Ireland, in Portugal, in Italy or in any other of the more mature European markets to be convinced that in our business: Everything is A-OK!