Most of you know that I'm very good friends with Randy Howell. I'll have a lot to say about his amazing Bassmaster Classic victory next week, but this week I want to talk about another competitor — a man of character and someone I thought really shined at the Classic.
Last week there were many things to learn while watching the Classic. Some people might have learned about new baits, new techniques or even found a new angler to follow and support. One thing I hope a lot of people learned was how to handle defeat, because no matter what we do for work or hobbies eventually things can and will go wrong.
Gerald Swindle showed how a man of character can find humor and humility after a very tough day. I hope this wasn't missed by the fans, because Gerald might have given us the best lesson of the weekend, and he did it by example.
We all know what it is like to have a bad day. It could be during the Classic, in a buddy tournament, on the golf course, at work … you name it. We have days where things just don't work out. It can be especially hard when you have to walk onto a stage in front of your fans, your friends, your sponsors, the media and thousands of people. This is where your character can really be tested.
Bass fishing as a profession comes with a lot of pressure to perform. What makes it more humbling is that sometimes, even when we put in the hard work necessary, things still don't pan out the way we hoped. This is especially difficult when it happens on our home lake.
Gerald had a tough event. It might have the two most difficult days of his career. Nevertheless, he held his head high and showed the kind of person he is. I am sure he wasn't happy, and deep down he was probably angry, but instead of being a poor sport, he stood on that stage and spoke with class and humor in a way that only Gerald can.
I can relate to Gerald's tough event. Last year at Grand Lake I had high hopes that never panned out. That's the sport of fishing, whether you fish the Bassmaster Classic or try to enjoy a weekend outing with friends. Sometimes things go great, and sometimes the fish win.
Gerald is a great angler, a former Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and a regular qualifier for the Classic. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that Gerald will catch his share of fish in 2014. When he does, he's going to handle it with the same grace and humility that he did with this disappointment.
It’s like Gerald’s dad told him, "If you want to be a professional angler. You better learn how to be a good loser."