Winning Isn't Always Everything

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

The Dardanelle event was an interesting one for me. I chose an unproductive spot on Thursday, but, having learned my lesson during the last Classic about staying in those kinds of areas, I moved along quickly and found a productive area to fish.

My weight improved on Friday. Then bad weather moved into the area and Saturday was cancelled. That didn't help my climb up the ladder. I could have used another day of fishing. But you have to work with what's given to you.

I had a good Sunday, however, with a bag that weighed nearly 20 pounds. I'm pleased that I moved up in the standings every day. Nevertheless, when everything was said and done I fell a couple of pounds short of the win. Mark Menendez won the tournament.

You'll never hear me say I'm satisfied with anything other than winning. That's the way I am, and I don't intend to change. Of course, I'm disappointed with second. If you don't feel that way you won't win, can't win. A positive attitude is what this sport — and life — is all about.

But at the same time I'm saying that I can't help but smile when I think about Mark, Dardanelle and his win. He's my teammate at Strike King, a good angler and a solid family man who won the event fair and square. That's the way it's supposed to be. I'm OK with that.

This is a different kind of competitive sport. We travel together and get to know each other fairly well. And our wives and families do the same thing. It's not a stretch to say we're like an extended family. We wish each other the best and root for the other guy whenever possible.

So, when you get beat by someone it's often with mixed emotions. I didn't want to come up short last Sunday. It's ridiculous to even entertain such an idea. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel good about Mark's win. He had a plan, executed it perfectly and took home the check. Besides, Mark beat me with my own lure, a tube I helped design for Strike King. How cool is that?

That's the beauty of this sport of competitive bass fishing. We can be competitors without being enemies. We don't have to hurt or tear down someone else to make ourselves big. I've said over and over that I think that comes from our heritage, our connection to the outdoors and Mother Nature.

There's something positive about sitting around a campfire, fishing and hunting with our families and our friends. You learn to appreciate what's really important in life, what matters when all is said and done. And you learn to appreciate that no matter how hard you try, some days will belong to the fish, others to the deer. That's the way it is and the way it should be.

It's all about the attitude.

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