BoatUS, an Alexandria-based sportsman’s advocacy group, has been angling for greater support of bass fishing at the college level.

Now, the organization’s big dream has been realized: Bethel University of McKenzie, Tenn., has just become the first institute of higher learning in the U.S. — and, if there’s a god, the first in the whole wide world — to recognize fishing as an official varsity sport.

Here’s the statement of Garry Mason, described by Bethel University’s PR people as “a nationally known outdoorsman, Professional Guide and Founder of the Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame,” on being named the first college fishing coach in the history of history:

“I hope that other universities follow the example of Bethel and offer this type of program for students who love to fish. Collegiate fishing sports have come a long way in a short period of time and the future looks very bright. The Bethel University Athletic Department and its coaches have all been very helpful in welcoming the fishing team to their campus. Hats off to all of the folks at Bethel for making this happen. These students represent the future of fishing sports.”

Coach Mason’s first recruiting class consists of Jason Arnold, Jacob Hardy and Jake Lawrence. We’re told Arnold has pledged to “focus on improving his deep water and ledge fishing skills as well as sight fishing for bedding bass.” Turns out that Hardy, who “considers his fishing strength to be shallow water flipping (jigs)” and “hopes to improve on his deep water and ledge fishing skills,” was also being wooed by  the University of Tennessee – Martin to come fish there. But he “chose Bethel University because of Coach Mason’s desire to produce a championship team.” And, Lawrence, no slouch himself, “already has a Largemouth Bass over 10 pounds to his credit.”

Hell yes, he does!

AFTER THE JUMP: There are HOW MANY colleges looking to field stream teams? Gilbert Arenas had HOW MANY turnovers? New Wizards scored HOW MANY points in Miami?)

Who will they compete against? Well, BoatUS says “nearly 40 more schools are currently in the process of organizing a sanctioned team.”

Is anything cooler than getting a free ride through college from fishing? I submit there is not.

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Gilbert Arenas was 2 assists away from a Triple Double, if you count his 12 turnovers. And the Wizards’ voyage to the bottom of the conference continued with a blown fourth-quarter lead and a trouncing in Miami.

Because of injuries and inabilities, none of the offseason acquisitions, the guys who were supposed to make us all forget last year’s cellar dwelling, scored a point vs. the Heat.

This is the Wizards’ fifth loss in a row. Already seems like another team had that big opening night win in Dallas.

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