With the absence of my Thursday edition of Balogís Bass War, youíre probably wondering where Iíve 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, Iím 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 didnít seem right. You may recall that, in my piece the week prior, I reflected how nearly all the news coming forth was ďmostly gossip," and how it would be ďirresponsible to speculate furtherĒ 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. Letís back up a bit.
As the week has developed, weíve 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 BPTís claim of additional prize money for competitors.
Therein, however, lies the discrepancy.
As weíre 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, thereís rumor (Oh no, itís the slippery slope again!) of reduction or removal of entry fees for certain players.
So, in terms of true dollars and cents, we really donít 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, itís 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 ďangler recruitmentĒ 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 Iíve 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, Iím being cautioned not to jump the gun. This isnít 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 somewhereÖ
Realistically, all we truly know are two things:
1. FLW apparently doesnít 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, Iíd show it off to everybody. However, when it comes to our industry, Iím not that surprised.
I refuse to speculate; instead, Iíll continue to give credit where itís 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. Thatís been over 20 years ago, folks, and itís 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.)