Someone wrote me and said that they would read my blog about a startling proposed rule change by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) if it contained the following observations. They would like the article if it contained the word “shame,” love the article if it contained the word “disgraceful,” and chuckle if the article used the term “male chauvinist pigs.”
Well I’m sorry, they are not pigs, but rather antiquated thinkers.
Until yesterday, and ever since sometime in the late 1930s for that matter, the modus operandi for world-record fish under the IGFA rules was that a world record (no matter what junk you have in the trunk) was a world record.
On the heels of International Women’s Day, all that has changed.
The IGFA has announced amendments to its record categories. The sexist rule will go into effect April 1, 2014. (The irony of the commencement date is not lost on me.) I suppose this year will be different in Italy, France, and Belgium, where children traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s backs as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (Pesce d’aprile! Poisson d’avril! and Aprilvis! in Italian, French, and Flemish, respectively). This year, boys will only pin boys and girls only pin girls, in keeping with the spirit of the IGFA rule change.
Freshwater line class and fly-rod records will now be separated into men’s and women’s categories. I’m not sure why a fish that weights 5 pounds caught by a man would be different than a 5-pound fish caught by a woman, but the paternalistic new rules of the IGFA organization seem to feel it is.
Separate but equal . . . no such thing!
Herbert Hoover said it best:
“To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men—for all men are equal before fish.”
The new IGFA rule violates modern-day sensibilities. Singling out any group because it is “different” is hurtful and backward. When I posted the bad news on my whatacatch.net Facebook page, the very first comment read: “On the positive side, it will give more record awards to women.”
Aarrrgghhhh! I don’t need handouts, thank you very much!
A world record will not carry the same prestige after April 1. Shame.
This proposed change is a ploy to create hundreds of vacancies for world records for the IGFA, at the expense of equality in the sport.
April Fool’s, perhaps? Yes, that is what I was thinking because up until yesterday it didn’t matter to the fish whether or not I had ovaries.
I was always told, after all, that it is the fish that decides to take the “bait.” Surely the fish doesn’t wonder whether it is a man, woman or child holding the pole. Fishing was always one of the few sports where men and woman played together on an equal footing. That was part of its appeal.
We are equal in the eyes of fish and children.
Under the direction of the 20-person board of trustees (or, excuse me, as per the new rules) 18 men and two nonmale trustees, and the all-male officers of the IGFA, a 5-pound fish is no longer a 5-pound fish.
But these are the new qualifying requirements when applying for an IGFA world record.
The IGFA website states that the angling rules have been formulated by the IGFA to promote ethical and sporting angling practices, to establish uniform regulations for the compilation of world game fish records, and to provide basic angling guidelines for use in fishing tournaments and any other group angling activities. They are about to add: to be paternalistic and insulting toward woman.
Where is the uniformity they talk about if they organize by gender? I don’t see what sex, race, or religion has to do with any of this.
Stick with your mission statement:
The International Game Fish Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.”
Stick with your objectives:
The purpose of IGFA, as set forth in the early bylaws, is “to encourage the study of game fishes for the sake of whatever pleasure, information, or benefit it may provide; to keep the sport of game fishing ethical, and to make its rules acceptable to the majority of anglers; to encourage this sport both as recreation and as a potential source of scientific data; to place such data at the disposal of as many human beings as possible …”
This misguided proposed rule change implies that women can’t cut it unless we get a handout. Poppycock!
I have reached out by email and Twitter to request a meeting with Eric Combast, Development Director for the IGFA. I would like to understand the basis for this proposed rule change and offer up some alternative solutions that will not smack of shameful, disgraceful chauvinism.
Follow Kathryn’s quest to right the wrong of this latest decision by the IGFA at What A Catch’s Facebook page.