Updated: May 17, 2020
—In a world that has been anything but normal as of late, the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission added to this on Tuesday, April 7 when they brought in trout season 11 days before the scheduled start of the season. In a move that the Commission defended as necessary to combat the COVID-19 outbreak by keeping concentrated groups and large crowds to a minimum, it left many outraged, including myself. It was a total surprise move to the Pennsylvania fishing public as the announcement to open the season wasn’t made until 45 minutes after they actually opened the season. Many trout fisherman hadn’t even purchased their license yet and many of the fishing outlets hadn’t received their shipment of supplies and/or bait. At the time, I felt that while things were so strange to us because of the coronavirus outbreak, the unannounced opening of the season only added to the confusion in people’s lives when a little bit of normalcy would have been welcomed.
Now, that we are two weeks into the season, I look back and think that it was probably a smart move on the Fish Commission’s part. I’ve been out fishing a handful of times now and have experienced very few fishermen along the creeks. And, the one day that there were a number of guys and gals along the creek (2nd day of the season), everyone seemed to be practicing proper social distancing. Even before the surprise opening, I had made up my mind that I wasn’t fishing on the 1st day of the season this year anyway. The first day brings way too many people to the creek anymore, many of whom only care about themselves, and, unless you wanted to get to the creek to find a spot at your favorite hole several hours before the typical 8:00 starting time, the chance of catching a fish while maintaining the required 6 foot social distancing mandate would have been next to impossible. The unfortunate in all of this is that the Mentored Youth Day was canceled. It is too bad that the Commission couldn’t have come up with a way to combat their goal of combatting this virus while still giving the kids the first opportunity to hit Pennsylvania’s trout streams. —In a time when there are so many people out of work, and there are so many frontline essential workers risking their health to make certain that we get the things that are necessary to live our everyday lives, I think it is imperative that we gain some perspective. The average salary of a Major League Baseball player on opening day, 2019 was $4.1 million. In 2019, the average NFL player earned a mere $2.6 million. The average salary in the NHL is over $2.5 million. The salary in the NBA is at a whopping $7.7 million per player. Why should athletes make this kind of money when, in an emergency, people are sitting at home hoping to get some unemployment compensation to survive and many are making minimum wage, or slightly more, while they putting themselves and their families at risk each and every day? Why are the athletes earning this kind of money when our military personnel and 1st responders are earning a fraction of this? I understand that nothing I say or do is probably going to make a difference. I understand that these leagues are free to pay the players what they want and good for the athletes if they are able to get it. But, I also understand the principal of supply and demand. I understand that if we don’t spend our hard-earned money on tickets and there are fewer people in the stadiums, that, sooner or later, tickets prices, and/or salaries have got to come down. Even without this threat, though, it would be a nice gesture by all sports franchises, if only for a year, to adjust their ticket prices to be affordable enough that the average family could attend a game or two if they wanted to without having to run up their credit card bill or risk not being able to make their monthly expenses.