Friday, August 6, 2010

Something's Fishy--Cheating Scandal at U.S. Open

How’s that for today’s major “sports headline”. It’s all over Yahoo News and there is page after page about it on Google. But that’s what happens in the world of big-time sports when there’s big-time money involved.

This ranks right up there with steroids in baseball. And it’s in a relatively obscure sport—although one which attracts millions more amateur participants than virtually any other sport.

And this also dealt with artificial weight gain. It seems like professional bass fisherman, Mike Hart from Southern California added multiple 2 ounce lead weights to several of the fish that he weighed in at late July’s professional bass fishing Western Outdoor News $200,000 U.S. Open held at Lake Mead.

(fishermen are NOT Mike Hart)

Now, if you haven’t seen professional bass fishing, it’s now become a televised sport with boats and fishermen more resembling NASCAR cars and drivers than what we fondly remember as fishermen. To me, fishing was always done in a 14-15 foot Lund boat with a small outboard and we wore jeans and t-shirts with a sweatshirt along in case it got cold and windy.

But these guys wear outfits that look more like NASCAR—colorful and just chock full of advertising patches from sponsors. And their boats look the same. Plus, the boats have nearly as much power and can go up and down a lake nearly as fast as a NASCAR race car.

And there’s big money involved. This tournament isn’t one of the biggest but first prize was $40,000 and a new bass boat. That’s enough to lure some people to cheat.

Hart has been permanently banned from the professional fishing circuit. And he may even be facing state and federal criminal charges. The criminal charges might stem from the fact that Lake Mead is located in both Nevada and Arizona.

(weights photo from YahooNews)

Apparently 3 of Hart’s fish died and, of course, couldn’t be released back to the water. When that happens, the fish are clean and filleted and then given to charity. It was then that 3 weights were found in each fish. I’m sure that Hart uttered a suitable “ohhhhhh crap” upon finding out that he had been caught.

And finally—these fish are natural size without augmentation. I can’t necessarily say the same for the “angler”.

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