When is a Fish also a Sport?


Illuminant by
Scott Farrell


December 1998


Many active people enjoy spending their spare time in the great outdoors, getting involved in a variety of wilderness activities such as hunting and fishing. These poor unfortunates might once have thought they were involved in outdoor sports, but, thanks to those wacky, fun-loving, politically correct folks over at PETA, they now know they're wrong.

PETA is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They're the same group who has been responsible for such ethical behavior as attacking people in restaurants which serve meat and protesting the testing of life-saving pharmaceuticals on animals — presumably testing drugs on humans, or letting people die of curable diseases is more "ethical" to them.

The most recent target of PETA's ire is that staple of the American breakfast table, Wheaties. According to a news report, Wheaties had chosen champion fisherman Denny Brauer to be honored beside the "breakfast of champions" slogan on the front of box, but PETA president Ingrid Newkirk felt the choice was inappropriate.

"Anglers have no place next to real sportsmen like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, who better represent the breakfast of champions," Newkirk said, implying that anyone who kills a fish is less sporting than someone who bounces a ball.

We have to wonder, however, just how much thought went into that statement. Did the PETA people consider just how much "ethical treatment of animals" is involved in bringing a basketball game to the public? Hundreds of acres of wilderness must be cleared to build a basketball stadium or arena — land which once was home to numerous birds, fish and animals. To construct a stadium, tons of concrete, steel and lumber must be fabricated, disrupting the natural environment even further. The lights and noise of the stadium disrupt wildlife for dozens of miles around, not to mention the smog, noise and light involved in getting thousands of automobiles in and out of the stadium parking lot.

How about a golf course? Building one of those requires bulldozing hundreds of acres of land, installing lights and sprinklers, then re-landscaping the whole area with grass and sand — regardless of what the native flora was. Then, once the clubhouse and parking lot are built, the whole area must be treated with pesticides and chemical fertilizers to keep it green and lush year-round.

Fishing, on the other hand, involves putting a piece of string into an existing lake, and then pulling it back out again — sometimes with a fish on the end.

A better name for PETA might be People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as Long as it Doesn't Inconvenience Us in Any Way by Disrupting the Regularly Scheduled Playoffs and We Don't Have to Confront the Real Toll that Our Favorite Sports Might Take on the Environment.

Fortunately, the folks who make Wheaties have a bit more sense than the nuts and flakes at PETA. At last report, they had no plans to pull Denny Brauer's face off their boxes, so you can go ahead and eat your breakfast secure in the knowledge that Wheaties doesn't cater to just the politically correct sporting crowd.


© 1998 Scott Farrell

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