Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Inherent danger associated...?!?

Jake Ruthven, from Fins on the Fly, asked for some help recently after being given some troubling news.  He is a high school student that has to this point been active in his Fort Collins schools Fly Fishing Club, but that seems to be going away.  About two weeks ago the Fort Collins school district informed them that it was cancelling the Fly Fishing Club and prohibiting any further meetings from commencing due to the “Inherent danger associated with the sport”.   Let that sink in for a minute.

Let’s leave aside for a minute what I would say are extreme examples of high school clubs out there; things like flying, ski racing, trap/skeet shooting, rock climbing, boxing, mountaineering, archery, sky diving.  If you are just looking at standard sports and clubs that schools sponsor and participate in nationwide is there a disparity in danger that made this fly fishing team a target?  Are you telling me that fly fishing is ‘inherently more dangerous’ than football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or even cheerleading?   I am certainly not going to say that there are not risks involved in the sport of fly fishing, but I would suggest that when care is taken those risks are at a minimum….virtually non-existent in most cases.   If this is truly a liability issue that the school system is looking at then one would think that there must be a way to mitigate that through some sort of waiver…right? 

Clubs like this give the students a chance to make friendships that will last a lifetime.  It gives them an opportunity to learn a set of skills to apply and further themselves in a sport they enjoy, and one they need never outgrow.  It gives them a reason to be outside and active rather than sitting on a couch and eating crap food while ‘plugged in’ to the latest game console for the bulk of the day.  It teaches them responsibility both for themselves and for the environment that they are stewards of through our great sport.

 Would the school district be willing to reinstate the club with beefed up waivers to indemnify them against legal action?  Do they require that a faculty member be present or sponsor the club, so perhaps this was a casualty of an out of balance budget? Could they implement restrictions to make the risk acceptable...for example wade only or fishing in pairs?  Could the students proceed with the club on their own, either informally or as a non-profit, and use the school bulletin boards simply to recruit members?   Obviously these are not questions that I can answer, but it gets you thinking…what are their options now?

Reply back here or on Fins on the Fly if you have any ideas or suggestions, or email jake at  It would be great if we could find someone that had a similar cancellation of a sport and what it was that they pursued to get that sport back.

****UPDATE***  Good news I just heard that there is a workaround in place so the club is able to continue to meet with some restrictions.  Jake was able to work with them to get to this point and hopefully they will be able to get a full resolution in place!

-mike schmidt

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