Are Bass Fishermen Now Considered Athletes?
I was just reading a report in the Shreveport Times that gave me pause. The article starts off by saying, "It's not often the top athlete in any sport makes a stop in Northwest Louisiana..." That by itself is a true statement. But put it in context with the "athlete" it's referring to and it loses some of its veracity for me.
The "athlete" in question is America's most famous bass fisherman, Kevin VanDam, who made an appearance at Bass Pro Shops on The Boardwalk this past Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I respect a guy who's won the Bassmaster Classic four times and has career earnings of more than $6 million.
But I wouldn't call him an athlete. Merriam-Webster defines "athlete" thusly, "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina." So, by that definition, any sport in which you can participate when you have a pot belly that hangs a foot over your belt while consuming mass quantities of beer automatically removes it from the realm of athletics, and therefore, you from the classification of athlete.
And I'm not picking on fisherman. I'm an avid golfer, but I don't consider myself engaged in athletic competition when I'm riding around the course in a golf cart. The only activity I get is stepping out of the cart to hit my next shot (which in my case is about 100 times) and sucking in my gut when we pass women golfers. Doesn't require much stamina. Some of the guys I've played with over the years are blind, stinking drunk by the time we get to the 18th hole. Bowling falls into that "non-athletic" category, as well.
As a couple of former Presidents have said, "Let me be clear." I'm not saying that Kevin VanDam is not athletic at times in his life, but simply being a successful fisherman does not make him an athlete.