ANGLING.GURUNew Thinking in Angling
10 Jan 2018

Does Angling Matter?

Does Angling really matter?  I mean, in the scheme of things? World hunger, idiots that somehow get elected to power, Brexit (Yes, I did mention Brexit)!  Does, in the face of all these things,  the humble sport of angling really matter?  In this blog, I am going to attempt to answer that question from an entirely personal point of view, without recourse to high and mighty primary and secondary sources, without the usual academic need to back up arguments.  It’s a very unprofessional approach to take, especially for someone soon to embark on a PhD, but I think it is an approach not taken often enough.

So, Does Angling Actually Matter?

I suppose, for me, the answer to the question has to be yes!  Angling, as a sport does, very much, matter…. But then I would say that! I am a lifelong Angler and aspiring academic studying the field of angling so, I guess, you could consider me somewhat biased in my opinions.  However, to answer this question more accurately, maybe I should answer it with another question. Does Football (soccer) matter?  Again, I would have to say yes, it is a yes backed up by the many thousands of academic papers that have been written about virtually every aspect of Football, it’s players, it’s fans, even long and, I am sure, very interesting papers on the grass that stadiums choose for their pitch!  Yes, football matters and I am NOT a football fan, I have to confess, I have never, even once, watched an entire Football match.  It doesn’t interest me even slightly, a bunch of overpaid individuals kicking a piece of leather around a field is, for me, the very definition of futile. Someone once bucked my ideas that football was pointless by saying, “Well, Football is a demonstration of fitness!  In the event of a war, you would be glad to have the well-trained kind of athlete that Football produces!” My answer was simple and one I still stand by “In the event of a war, I will be glad to have developed a skill that can feed my family!” My comments are not intended to be a scathing indictment of the sport of Football.  Football matters and it is vitally important that people go on researching and studying the game from every possible angle but, to me, football is no MORE or LESS important than Angling.  Angling, after all, has a history that predates Football and is one of the most popular participation and outdoor sports in the world!  Anglers see their sport as more than a simple pastime, they see it sometimes as a spiritual pursuit, a lifestyle, and as a far more involved hobby than most other sports can boast.  And for many, for me as a child certainly, Angling is a form of escape.  In my case, that escape was from some, in retrospect, pretty minor bullying.  For many, it is a respite from poverty, from serious bullying and, simply, from life when it feels too hard.  There is much more to be said for this most beautiful of pursuits but, if you are reading this then I am willing to guess you already know many of the advantages that angling offers. So, yes, Angling matters, I think we have got to that point. However, this doesn’t answer a bigger, and for me, more pressing point… the point of this blog, why does it matter that I and many thousands of anglers around the UK and millions around the world care that Angling matters?  I know that I said at the beginning of this piece that I would not resort to other sources for my argument but, perhaps, for this very important point you can forgive me just one! “Despite the enormous volume of angling literature, academically rigorous research into the social aspects of recreational angling in the UK has lagged behind that of other sports and leisure activities.” (Brown, Djohari and Stolk, 2012) Angling does matter, as much as any other sport, and I am not just talking about fish here either!  I am talking about those people who participate in this largely hidden sport with a fishing rod in their hand.  For me, it is these people who matter above all as, perhaps, as in so many other spheres, by studying this microcosm of people, knowledge can be discovered that will have a knock on and meaningful effect on worldwide economies, our own environment and a better understanding of ‘people’ in general. If the idea of academia is to make the world a better place and that is a place where we all live, then I think the goal should be to understand all people and their unique views upon the world.  These views are formed through many things including upbringing, life events and the things that we do in our leisure time.  Anglers have as much to contribute to that understanding of society as any other participant within it.  Angling does and, of course, Anglers do matter!

References

Brown, A., Djohari, N. and Stolk, P. (2012) Fishing for answers. The final report of the social and community benefits of angling project.

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