With the absence of my Thursday edition of Balog’s Bass War, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been. Those of you quick to the draw might have read a piece that was indeed published that morning, but was later taken down due to inaccuracies on my part. So, for the first time in history, I’m writing a rebuttal. To myself.
My original intent this week was to, again, comment on all the happenings surrounding development of the Bass Pro Tour and how it may affect all the players involved. Like many of you, I frothed at the mouth over the BassFan piece released earlier, comparing apples to apples of the big three tournament circuits, and I quickly established my take on the issues.
However, upon doing so, something just didn’t seem right. You may recall that, in my piece the week prior, I reflected how nearly all the news coming forth was “mostly gossip," and how it would be “irresponsible to speculate further” as to much of the direction. I should have trusted my gut.
In my now vanquished piece, I pointed out a few things that many of you may be thinking, but few, possibly, are understanding. Let’s back up a bit.
As the week has developed, we’ve seen a major overhaul in tournament awards, apparent sponsor commitments and entry-fee structure thanks to the newly formed BPT. B.A.S.S. quickly followed suit, dumping in millions in cash, loosening entry restrictions and apparently making it essentially free for returning customers to participate.
Also, pulling from the information brought forth, what we first learned was that the BPT would require entry fees not unlike any other pro trail, and that B.A,S,S, quickly matched or exceeded the BPT’s claim of additional prize money for competitors.
Therein, however, lies the discrepancy.
As we’re finding now, the BPT will be a vast entity, complete with regular-season events, Cup events, and possibly more than one championship. Originally, dollars and cents were figured in terms of their regular-season tournaments alone, and the additions were not accounted for.
Also, there’s rumor (Oh no, it’s the slippery slope again!) of reduction or removal of entry fees for certain players.
So, in terms of true dollars and cents, we really don’t have all the facts.
Other potential talking points include weigh-ins vs. immediate release, live feeds vs. television shows and opportunities for anglers to gain exposure. When comparing the accepted format of tournament fishing to the MLF model, it’s easy to consider issues. First off, what about the thousands of fans showing up to weigh-ins who want to rub elbows with their heroes? This was an aspect of tournament fishing we were all told was critical to “angler recruitment” and the like.
And how is it that the MLF model will gain exposure for the anglers, and, more importantly, their sponsors? In past MLF shows I’ve watched, I saw no way for a fisherman to promote his chosen rod, reel, line or lure, unless that brand matched that of an MLF sponsor.
Behind the scenes, I’m being cautioned not to jump the gun. This isn’t their first rodeo.
It appears that, in the case of the BPT, the final details are yet to shake out. Much information is not yet available due to non-disclosure agreements entered in by numerous parties. In essence, things are still developing, so at this point, it would be irresponsible to speculate further.
I remember hearing that somewhere…
Realistically, all we truly know are two things:
1. FLW apparently doesn’t have plans to make any major changes, and is secure in their current business model (a story for another time).
2. Neither B.A.S.S. nor the newly formed BPT have finalized their changes and made them public.
This top-secret aspect continues to surprise me. I would think that, if I had a product I felt was the best in the world and wanted to sell, I’d show it off to everybody. However, when it comes to our industry, I’m not that surprised.
I refuse to speculate; instead, I’ll continue to give credit where it’s due. Without question, the developments put in place by the BPT are resulting in the biggest changes to hit professional bass fishing since the mid '90s, with the creation of the FLW Tour. That’s been over 20 years ago, folks, and it’s about time somebody got through to the world.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)