The Alabama tournaments will be contested as a club level sport this year. However, the Alabama High School Athletic Association will classify the events as a full varsity sport in 2011 if at least 10 percent of the state's high schools participate. As an official high school sport, the member schools will compete in a state championship.
"I've got one girl who is a cheerleader who plans to start fishing as soon as basketball season is over," explained Jeremy Jones, a school principal at Alabama's Decatur Heritage, "Several other kids have also talked about joining the team. It's a very exciting thing."
The bass athletes may even have an opportunity for college scholarships, as collegiate teams now participate in National Championship tournaments.
In Illinois, nearly 2,500 students participated on bass fishing teams during the 2008-09 academic year. Of that number, 55 percent did not participate in any other school activity.
Several school administrators have found that bass fishing teams have prompted many students, that have had never shown interest in competitive sports, to participate in a high school sports.
Student anglers are a component of a major national trend
According to a recent survey conducted for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) and the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) more anglers took to the water in 2009 than in any of the previous five years. Across the country, fishing license sales rose by 4.7 percent in the 12 states that participate in the fishing license sales index. Four of the 12 participating states, (Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas), are among the top ten states in terms of the impact anglers have on the nation's economy.
ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman explained "Should the 4.7 percent rise hold true nationwide, it would represent one of the largest percentage increases in fishing license sales in over 30 years."