Sometimes sports can seem so formulaic. Show up, play by the rules, stay between the lines, get your check, go home. Where's the intrigue, the gamesmanship, the clinical insanity? International carp-fishing competitions, that's where.
The Daily Mail and The Independent have both published pun-laden pieces about the recent shenanigans at the 14th World Carp Angling Championships, also known as WorldCarp2012 at the official event website, which currently boasts the headline, "ROMANIA IS THE NEW WORLD CHAMPION ON CARPFISHING." Here's The Independent's report:
Winners Romania had spent the five months preceding the tournament feeding the fish of Lake Corbu with a secret bait recipe.
Unfortunately for the 10-man England side, who finished 18th, they turned up at last month's tournament with £10,000 worth of traditional "boilies".
The mash-up of flour, egg and flavourer such as blended dried dog food is popular with British fish but failed to spark a flicker of interest in the Romanian carp which were happy to gorge on the feed offered on the hooks of their hosts which they had grown obligingly fat on throughout the summer.
The debacle has prompted fury in the highly-competitive world of carp fishing, a discipline where technical know-how and secret techniques can make the team tactics of cycle road racing appear as complex and cut throat as a round of tiddlywinks.
Hear that, cyclists? You're all pussies. Fish some carp and get back to us. The Daily Mail wrote that the "[d]isappointed team" from the UK "could only watch as fish leaped for the host's bait," which is a great image and quite possibly something that literally happened.
Lake Corbu is in Romania, so this is really just an extravagant extension of home-field advantage, like the vintage Celtics refrigerating the opponent locker rooms, except with more carp.
Romania caught 1.7 metric tons of fish, and sent at least three teams—the South African and French contingents were also cited as having been out of the special-bait-loop—home with practically no fish to show for their efforts, and no hardware at all. The UK's team manager conceded that the Romanian carp/bait acclimation strategy wasn't technically cheating, but "was against the spirit of fair play," which is crybaby for "we hadn't considered the Romanians would start five months early." The lesson, as always: cheat.