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For what it's Wirth

Bored with summer reruns? Check out the Bass Olympics on The Outdoor Fodder Network this fall. Just imagine, instead of wasting your precious fishing time watching double-jointed gymnasts and anorexic marathon runners sweat, groan and tear ligaments, you can cheer on your kind of athletes redneck fishermen competing in bass-oriented-skill events that guys like us can relate to. All events will take place in Athens. That would be Athens, Ala. Not Greece.

Here's a rundown on the events, along with our inside picks on who's most likely to capture the gold.

Weed Ripping: You've read articles in BASS Times about big-money BASS pros triggering strikes by ripping weeds off their crankbaits with repetitive jerks of their rods. You tried it yourself, but no matter how hard and how often you jerked, you reeled in a pound of cabbage on every cast, causing you to wonder: Is weed rippin' for real, or are those #$%@ BASS Times writers Louie Stout and Tim Tucker just handing me a ration of BS? You'll find out once and for all in this exciting event, to be held on weed-choked Former Gov. George Wallace State Park Lake. Contenders will be given 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Traps. When a gunshot is fired, contestants are allowed one cast into a patch of grass so thick it looks like the broccoli display at the local Food Lion. Any grass clinging to the hooks after the retrieve will be removed and weighed on a precision scale; the angler harvesting the least amount of vegetation will be declared the Gold Medallist. Who to watch: Lamar "Twitchy" Ledbetter, a Georgia bass fisherman who has perfected the correct jerky rod movements by adhering to a strict training diet of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Lunker Launch: Here, anglers are put on a pond loaded with 10-pound bass and handed a flipping stick and a jig. When they get a bite, they'll try to launch the lunker into the boat without breaking their rod, line, nose or the video camera on the rear deck. A computer will calculate elapsed time and total distance the fish covers as it's snatched from the water and rocketed into the boat. Expect this event to be picketed by PETA members. Who to watch: Monty Phlegm, a Tennessee angler who holds the world record in this event with a 22-meter, .675-second launch of an 11.03-pound largemouth.

Vienny Eating: This event is a real crowd pleaser. The rules are simple. Contenders will be given 15 minutes to consume as many tasty vienna sausages as they can swallow. The winner will take home the coveted Hormel Cup. Who to watch: Mortimer Fingerhut, a 350-pounder from Mississippi said to be able to swallow the entire contents of a 2-quart value pack of these slimy delicacies in a single gulp.

Outboard Revving: The object here is to see who can rev up a 225-horse outboard the highest number of rpm's without blowing it up. Contenders will draw straws for position, then take turns stomping the foot throttle of a brand-new bass rig in a test tank. A digital tachometer will record the outboard's revolutions per minute. Actually seeing, hearing and smelling that big V6 blow a piston or throw a rod is more fun than witnessing a head-on collision at a tractor pull, especially since it's not your engine. Who to watch: Smoky Pringle, a dyslexic NASCAR mechanic from North Carolina.

Precision Pitching: Thrill to the unbridled excitement of bass fishermen attempting to pitch tube jigs through a series of progressively smaller knotholes at distances of 10, 25 and 50 meters. Or, use this event as an opportunity to get a Busch Lite out of the fridge. Who to watch: Indiana basser Seymour Butts has won this event for the past three years, drawing protests from other competitors who feel his computerized prosthetic arm gives him an unfair advantage.

Endurance Cranking: The Iron Man event of the Bass Olympics. Beefy crankbait fishermen are put on an Alabama lake with the air temperature hovering around 100 degrees (and humidity to match), and given no food or liquids. The one who cranks a 3/4-ounce Fat Free Shad the longest wins the gold. This year for the first time, viewers can place online bets on who will be the last man standing. Who to watch: Wing Dong Chin, a Korean angler who slips into a meditative trance to divorce his mind from the agonizing pain his body is suffering in this brutal torture test.

Jerkbait Scramble: Hopeful contenders are handed a cardboard box containing 100 Suspending Rogues, Pointers and Long A's, their razor-sharp hooks tangled in a hopeless mess. When the starting gun is fired, the first to untangle all the lures without bleeding to death takes home the coveted Menendez Medal. Who to watch: Delbert Entwhistle. Considered the fastest jerkbait unscrambler on the planet, he blew his shot at the Gold during last year's competition when he had to be rushed to a nearby hospital for a transfusion.

Plankton Identification: This admittedly dull scientific event is staged as a nod of appreciation for all the fine work marine biologists do on behalf of bass fishermen everywhere. Nerdy scientists from around the globe are shown close-up images of nasty looking zooplankton and phytoplankton specimens taken from popular bass lakes, and asked to identify the species and other scientific stuff. Need another Busch Lite? Here's your chance. Who to watch: J. Terwilliger Farquar, Ph.D., Harvard professor and author of the definitive book on the subject, Plankton: Nature's All-You-Care-To-Eat Buffet.

Trolling Motor Marathon: How fast, and how far, can a trolling motor propel a bass boat? Find out in this unique event. Competitors will attach their blueprinted trolling motors to identical bass rigs; the one that moves the boat the greatest distance in the shortest amount of time takes home the gold. Who to watch: Jules Piffington, a mechanical engineer from Crawsuckett, Mass. Word on the street is that he's managed to hop up a stock MinnKota to deliver over 1,200 horsepower. Whether he's able to restrain it from ripping itself off the boat's deck is questionable.

Outdoor Writer Phrase Juggling: The elite of the outdoor press will gather to see who can come up with the most original, colorful and exciting written descriptions of mundane bass fishing situations. BASS Times senior writers have been disqualified from this year's competition due to their inability to operate Spell Check. Who to watch: L. Hemingway Thoreau, outdoor columnist for the Whales Breath, R.I., Sentinel, who captured the Gold last year for his description of a leaping bass as "a piscatorial projectile, dwelling in Neptune's realm, yet ne'ertheless striving to reach the portals of Heaven."