With respect to TV coverage, B.A.S.S. played the odds here and lost. The nattering nabobs of negativism who troll the fishing message boards are going to complain that B.A.S.S. should have had a camera in every boat. Some of them probably think we need a camera in all 100 boats from the get-go. The most extreme among their ranks could be convinced that Jerry McKinnis should personally implant a GoPro in the cerebral cortex of anyone who purchases a bass boat or a pack of shaky heads. Obviously, there are resource limits here. If B.A.S.S. expanded the number of cameramen to eight or 10 or 12, you’d still end up missing some highlights. And at what cost? Would it add a dollar to your B.A.S.S. membership costs? Decrease the payout for the anglers? Require an additional commercial during each broadcast of The Bassmasters (thereby potentially depriving some starving up-and-comer of his much-needed two minutes of fame)? Could they even find a dozen dudes who can balance the big camera on their shoulder in bucking 8-footers on Erie and still bring back a decent product?
Because my column is on Bassmaster.com, some people will likely think this paragraph to be overly apologist. That’s your right, but I think my track record on this and other publications shows that I can be extremely critical when criticism is warranted.
While I’m disappointed that we didn’t see the tournament-altering acres of schooling fish, my takeaway here is that the production crew recovered nicely, getting some fishing footage of Christie along with a lot of subsequent narrative from him. There may be an element of luck to that, but there’s also a bit of forethought at work. Over the past handful of years, B.A.S.S. has added the tournament blog, the Marshal program and BASSTrakk. None of them is perfect, and each has been maligned by certain parties – sometimes fairly, other times not so much – but each of these tools improved our understanding of the Bull Shoals event, and the television coverage, in a way that would not have been possible just a short time ago. At the dawn of the Elite Series, the Bassmaster crew – let alone the average fan – would have had little idea of Christie’s charge until the scales were closed or nearly closed.
In a sport where a hundred competitors are spread out over tens of thousands of acres and the key action may occur in a five-minute stretch out of an eight-hour day, we are bound to miss things and lose historic moments. The goal should be to lose fewer and fewer as we evolve.
I’m sure the brain trust in Little Rock and Birmingham is going through lots of pots of coffee trying to figure out how to avoid these issues going forward. In fact, they’ve already been confronted with a similar situation again at the Open level, with Stephen Browning making a similar 12th to 1st place charge this past weekend on the Red River (They’re already calling it “Pulling a Christie” – how cool is that?). It may not bite us again for five or six years, but at some point it will happen, and it would be a shame not to have learned a lesson from these experiences.
I don’t know how the TV folks should address this issue on a global basis, but I have one simple suggestion, offered at no charge, to solve the micro-level problem: Whether he’s in 1st, 2nd, 11th or 99th, it probably makes sense to keep a camera glued to Jason Christie. He just keeps going and going and going (wrong battery company, but you get the idea).