SHREVEPORT, LA. – Nothing draws sportswriters to an event like the promise of free food. But having more than four dozen of the world’s best bass fishermen didn’t hurt attendance at the 2012 Bassmaster Classic Media Day.
Scores of media representatives descended on the Silver Lake Ballroom in downtown Shreveport on Thursday, and even though B.A.S.S. provided lunch, the Bassmaster Classic contenders were the biggest draw.
“Why are we here? You mean outside of the free lunch?” joked Tim Fletcher, sports director at KTBS-TV, Shreveport’s ABC affiliate. “Seriously, though, we want to know what these guys have truly learned in four days of practice.”
Fletcher was working on a story for Thursday evening’s newscast, one of numerous reports he’s putting together for his station’s second Bassmaster Classic. Fletcher also covered the 2009 Classic on the Red River.
“That first year it came, we were kind of anxious about it, to be honest,” Fletcher said. “We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to cover the Bassmaster Classic?’ But then we started talking to these guys, and everybody we talked to was so stinkin’ nice.
"They were all eager to continue the interview. They weren’t like, ‘That’s your two minutes – time to move on.’ They were all just very engaging, the kind of guys you’d want to have a beer with or break bread with. That’s what separates these guys from a lot of other professional athletes. We’ve been blown away.”
The pros sat at individual tables in a meeting room Thursday as media representatives from newspapers, websites, magazines and television stations moved from table to table to gather material for stories and broadcasts. Some asked questions specific to the Classic. Others used the opportunity to fill their notebooks with material they’ll use to craft stories throughout the year.
“I love talking to the pros to get inside their heads,” said veteran outdoor writer Terry Brown of Wired2Fish.com. “At the end of the day, I’m a fisherman, and I want to know what these guys are thinking about catching fish. And these guys are some of the last pro athletes that are approachable. When you come to Classic Media Day, you know these guys are going to talk to you.”
Brown, who has covered 26 Bassmaster Classics, said Media Day also presents an opportunity to meet young anglers who are just getting started in the sport.
“Meeting some of the young guys is an important part of it for me,” Brown said.
For Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times, Media Day was one his last chances to finetune a pair of stories he’s working on for Friday’s edition.
“We’ve already done several stories for our Classic coverage,” said Watson, who’s covering his fourth Classic. “But today I’m here to ask some anglers about Kevin VanDam for a story I’m writing on him for (Friday’s) paper. I’m also working on a 1A (front page) story for (Friday), so I’ll pick up some stuff for that one, too.”
The Shreveport Times began their Classic coverage Sunday, and Thursday’s edition included a special tabloid section dedicated to the Classic.
And while media representatives from across the country attended Thursday’s festivities, the local print and TV media seemed to be relishing the opportunity to speak to Classic contenders more than their visiting counterparts.
“These are some fun guys to talk to,” Fletcher said. “You really feel like you can just sit around and talk to them about fishing or anything else.”