So, it looks as though the 2020 Summer Olympics have become collateral damage from the corona virus “pandemic;” a shame, I think. But not to worry, cause’ I have a few suggestions for summer Olympic events we can hold right here in the heartland of the good ole’ USA.
The half-acre pond in the middle of the farm where I grew up was often a gathering spot for the family.
Back then I owned a big old prehistoric aluminum canoe with a ridge formed into the hull at the water line, making it extra stable and easy to fish from. This ridge also stabilized the canoe during rounds of “bluegill batting.”
Back in the day, the Ohio wildlife and parks guys thought the perfect formula for stocking every farm pond was a combination of largemouth bass and bluegills.
Bluegills seem to reproduce like rabbits, but after a few years, a pond will contain enough big bass to keep the bluegill population in check. Until then, however if enough bluegills aren’t regularly removed, they can quickly fill a pond with dinky, undersized fish.
Dad’s pond was loaded with tiny, pesky bluegills that flew quite nicely into the nearest fencerow when thrown into the air and hit with a canoe paddle; a farmer’s sport invented by us and possibly a good candidate for an Olympic sport, known as “Bluegill Batting.”
The event will be divided into two categories; land batting in which each contestant will bat his or her bluegill from the bank, and water batting where the batting will take place from a canoe.
The batters can choose to have their bluegills pitched to them or they can choose the freestyle delivery where they throw it up in the air themselves before whacking it.
Winners will be chosen for both longest distance and for highest flight, and naturally canoe paddles will be provided so that no one has an unfair advantage.
The diving board at dad’s pond was an old steel frame with a big old barn plank for a board. We welded the frame from stuff dug out of the usual farmer’s scrap pile and carried it to the pond with the tractor and manure loader.
It was on the dam, so the frame was made to be as tall as the dam. One end of the old barn plank lay across the steel frame and hung out over the water and the other end rested on top of the dam and was held there with a huge rock.
It did little good to bounce on the board when diving because the old plank had zero spring to it. I remember going to a nice swimming pool once with the church youth group and running out onto the diving board and pouncing on it like I did at the pond.
The thing flung me so high I had a nose bleed when I hit the water! I once watched my buddy Ralph bounce off the end of the board as usual, then looked-on as the plank followed him end-over-end into the pond cause’ the rock had somehow gotten moved.
Anyway, the next event in the Farm Pond Olympics would be farm pond diving. The degree of difficulty will always be high no matter what dive they choose, and the chunkier divers will have a definite advantage in the event.
We’ll probably have to employ an extra person at the judges table to keep an eye on the rock.
When anchored from one end, a canoe pivots and swings back and forth in the wind, so to prevent that, I had rigged an anchor at each end of mine; one was a conventional boat anchor, and the other was a big, heavy, round, steel ball of some sort.
As I remember it, this particular evening my sister’s husband and I were anchored out in the pond fishing from my canoe, and the rest of the family were fishing from the bank.
The old canoe was extra wide and roomy, so we had tackle boxes sitting open on the seats, maybe to give the impression we were contenders on the professional bluegill circuit.
Come dusk, given the absence of stadium lights around the pond, both the fishing and bluegill batting events were over for the evening, so we pulled the anchors to head for shore.
I lifted the boat anchor with no problem, but the big steel ball on my brother-in-law’s end of the craft seemed to have gotten sucked into the black, oozy mud on the bottom of the pond.
In an attempt to dislodge the thing, he leaned forward nearly to the water, got several wraps of the rope around his hand then leaned backwards, putting all his weight into the extraction.
He was built like a dump-truck, short and stocky, so when the ball suddenly came free, he hit the other side of the canoe like a rodeo bull! The sudden weight shift was too much for even my old canoe with the ridge at the water line, and we were soon in the drink next to the overturned canoe and amidst a sea of floating fishing tackle.
Welcome to the next farm pond Olympics event, the freestyle lure swim.
Sure, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte can swim like the wind, but how would they fare after being unceremoniously flung from a capsized canoe into a floating bed of razor-sharp treble hooks? The score can be tallied two ways; most lures on their body or fewest lures on their body when they exit the water.
The event could be made even more life-like by unceremoniously flinging each swimmer from a sinking canoe to start the race. Heaven help the swimmer with a hairy back; when they climb out of the pond on the other side, they’ll look like a lure display board at Cabela’s.
So, there you have my recommendations for our very own USA farm pond summer Olympics; bluegill batting, farm pond diving and whatever you’d call being forced to swim through a floating fishing tackle flotilla after being thrown from a sinking canoe.
Good stuff! By the way, I’ll be available to coach the bluegill batting squad. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org