T TO THE TOUR
By Pete Robbins T W H ha E t H W ap E p S e T ne E d R T N o OPENS
With three national major tours now in existence – based in Birmingham, Tulsa and Kentucky, respectively – they all need differentiating characteristics. Those three bases of operation are all more similar than they are different, and while B.A.S.S., BPT (Major League Fishing) and FLW all stand out in their own ways, I can assure you that many – if not most of the horses in the races – see themselves as being in battle with one another.
How do you win that battle, or at least hold position?
You make a better product. You can also make a different product. In an ideal situation, you make it both better and different.
Western anglers who want a place setting at the national table may not realize it, but they are now in a position of unprecedented power. With a huge, fishing- focused regional audience that occasionally feels neglected by the powers that be, they can trade upon that market share to command more favorable terms.
That might take the form of a new qualifying path, or it might simply result in more tour-level events being held closer to home, but the opportunities are there. While the internet and broadcast tournaments have made geography less important for the average fan, they’ve done nothing to shorten the drive from California to Florida.
Any changes won’t come easily, and they’ll require some concerted collective action to make a difference. After all, the majority of the fan base, and the corporate entities, continue to reside in or near that Birmingham/ Tulsa/Kentucky triangle.
Overall, western influence might never be able to match that (or be perceived to match that). Nevertheless, the west is a massive bloc, and one that cannot be taken lightly. It’s also an influential and innovative group, with its hand on the pulse of finesse fishing and big bait culture, as well as being the gateway to Japanese influence.
This is not an opportunity to be taken lightly. The person or group who figures out how to tightly tie the western community to the future of bass fishing has the power to greatly influence the course of the sport. Our culture doesn’t change quickly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t change at all. •