Bass Fishing photo

Long-time bass fishing personality Jimmy Houston was in Norman, Oklahoma recently to conduct a halftime casting contest at a University of Oklahoma basketball game. What apparently transpired comes as no big shock, considering the state of modern manhood, but still a bit depressing. Here’s how Norman Transcript Managing Editor Andy Rieger (who gave me my very first writing job many years ago) described it on his blog.
Four men, who appeared to be college students, were selected to participate in a casting contest directed by none other than America’s favorite fisherman Jimmy Houston. Houston tossed one into the net from half court while he was warming up. The man’s a master caster. Needless to say, many in the crowd were embarrassed when Houston had to show the contestants how to operate a fishing rod and reel._ They were supposed to aim the plug at a Hula Hoop set up on the basketball court. Just blind luck allowed them to hit it a couple of times. None of them could throw one out of their own shadow. Most ended up with backlash. They had weak-wristed tosses that looked like they were just learning to throw a Frisbee. Some suggest that kids don’t learn to cast anymore because their helicopter parents are casting for them. They won’t let them near farm ponds. Maybe so but I’m sure America’s favorite fisherman won’t go home with much appreciation for Oklahoma’s angling talent.

Putting aside the mild embarrassment I feel for my hometown, my university and my state (Hope that wasn’t on ESPN…) I’m astounded not by the fact these young men couldn’t run a modern baitcaster but the fact that judging by the description of their casting mechanics they probably hadn’t ever even picked up a rod. Who knows, maybe they got confused because they couldn’t find a casting app on their Iphone. Seriously, what the hell do college-age guys do for entertainment these days? Coordinate their wardrobes? Tweet? Watch Spike TV? Update their Facebook pages? Actually go to class? Whatever it is, it’s obviously not fishing. Geez, when I was at OU I showed up so infrequently because of fishing that my professors never actually knew I was enrolled. They just assumed I was a local eccentric who enjoyed sitting in on their class once or twice a semester. And I certainly wasn’t alone in that regard. It’s Oklahoma, for crying out loud! We do a little bass fishing here.

But apparently not as much as we once did. Intrigued, I tried to find a clip of the offending performance online. No luck, but I did stumble across this wonderful vintage clip of world casting champion Johnny Dieckman working some magic with an old Ambassadeur 5000

At one time in the not-too-distant past young men of college age knew how to do this. Now? Not so much. But they can text like fiends…