Thursday, May 23, 2024

2015 Classic: The Season of Change? by Bruce Callis

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2015 Classic: The Season of Change?

The 2015 Bassmaster Classic is in the record books. Casey Ashley of Donalds, South Carolina is the new champion with 50.1 pounds. He beat out Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Florida by a little over 3 pounds. Rookie of the Year Jacob Powroznik of Port Haywood, Virginia finished in 5th place, 7 pounds back. The BASSfest winner and FLW Pro Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana finished in 14th place. Angler of the Year, Greg Hackney of Gonzales, Louisiana finished in 26th place. And John Crews of Salem, Virginia finished in 33rd place.
The first day started off as a new record, the coldest launch in Classic history at 10 degrees. It was the first classic with 2 defending champions, with Randy Howell defending his 2014 title and Cliff Pace defending his 2013 title after sitting out last year due to injury. It was the end of the second longest straight Classic appearances streak for Kevin VanDam, which ended at 24. Rick Clunn holds the record with 28 straight appearances.
But it’s not the anglers I feel sorry for, it’s the sponsors. They stand behind an angler all year, but the final event to the season is now the kickoff event for the New Year. Anglers in the off season have to line up sponsors for the new season. Ones that got them to the classic can be left out in the dark. Maybe it was a small sponsor, but they paved the way for the angler to fish in 2014. Granted, it is great for the new sponsor, as their name is now up on the stage as they, the anglers weigh in. I don’t see it as fair from a business stand point. I know that sponsorship is a dog eat dog world. But should it be sponsor a guy only because he made the classic this year? Do you drop them if they don’t make it next year?
If they moved the Classic back to the fall of the year, I think it would be a much better event. It opens up the field as to where they can go. The James River would be a great place in September or October, but a poor choice in February. Kentucky Lake or Table Rock in the fall? The possibility of opening the event to new locations is a winning opportunity for BASS. Not to mention the benefit for the fans. Granted, a winter trip to somewhere warm sounds great during this cold winter, but it limits where you can fish. We could just have the Classic in sunny Florida every year? But do we want to compete with the attractions there? We want the kids to come out, not go to Universal or Disney instead.
I see it as a winning choice for the sponsors also. I mean, if you used my lures to get you to the classic, then switch because another lure company offers you more benefits, where is my payoff? What does it say to others about my lures? I sponsor you for 5 years as you work your way up the ladder, and just as my investment starts to pay off, I’m left standing in the cold. Who can blame a guy for wanting to make more money? And who can blame a sponsor for wanting to get in on appearing on the big stage?
Fishing is the only sport that puts everything on hold for months before holding its final event. Can you see the NFL playing the entire season, then holding the Super

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