The Classic Wild Card decision

B.A.S.S. announced yesterday that starting next year there will be another route to the Bassmaster Classic for those anglers who fish the Elites or all the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens in one division and didn’t otherwise qualify. I couldn’t be happier with what they’re doing.

Before I tell you why I feel that way, let me get the obvious out of the way. This is something that benefits me directly, at least if I fish next year the way I fished last year. I hope I don’t qualify for the Bassmaster Classic Wild Card Tournament next December but if I do you can bet your last dollar I’ll be there. Now let’s get to the more important stuff.

This event isn’t for just anybody. To qualify you have to commit to bass fishing at a serious level. Fishing the Elites is a life changing decision. Fishing all three Opens in one division may not be life changing but it’s still a serious financial and personal commitment. What’s wrong with B.A.S.S. giving those of us who do that another, last chance shot at a Classic?

I know some people will say — have already said — that this will dilute the talent pool. That’s bunk in my opinion. I’m not going to mention names but look at who didn’t make it this year. I can cull out a half-dozen names on that list that are true legends in competitive bass fishing. Do they dilute the talent pool? I think not.

And, if there’s a guy out there who can beat the legends, are we willing to say he doesn’t belong? I mean, if you challenge a legend and come out on top you belong — by definition. You won. He didn’t.

I support the business side of this, too. It creates a real incentive to join B.A.S.S. and become active in our sport. There’s nothing like a shot at the Classic to make a guy get up early in the morning and go fishing. And the entry fee is more than reasonable.

Look around at the next tournament you attend. There are at least a dozen B.A.S.S. employees on site. They had to get there somehow so they have trucks, cars, gas and maintenance. Don’t forget airplane tickets. Add in motels and food. Oh, don’t forget the stage as well as the writers and photographers they pay so that we can read about the event on the Internet — in real-time.

As a business, they do this all over the country, all year. They cover Elite events, Opens in three Divisions, Federation Nation Divisional tournaments and a host of postseason stuff. It’s all first-class, too. That doesn’t happen for free.

Two thousand dollars to have a chance to fish a Bassmaster Classic is a steal for an angler. Just going can make your career; and if you have a good showing, it only gets better. The experience of launching on Friday morning is worth that much money. Believe me when I tell you I know all that from personal experience.

This is a good deal for everyone involved. It helps the anglers and it helps the sport of bass fishing. I applaud the decision.

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