TULSA, Okla. — There will be a real-time scoreboard at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, but the 53 competitors won't see it during competition. That ruling, made Thursday, ended two days of considerable angler anxiety.
When a new BASSTrakk system was announced by B.A.S.S. officials during the Classic anglers' briefing Tuesday, the competitors realized there might be a problem. Not only would each angler's minute-by-minute totals be available to others in the field, but also his general location on Grand Lake.
The Classic anglers immediately began thinking about worst-case scenarios.
Oklahoman Edwin Evers summed it best: "You might run an hour-and-a-half, have one little creek to yourself and start catching 'em. Within an hour, you could have the rest of the field right there with you.
"You work so hard to find a group of fish to yourself. That's how you win a tournament."
That scenario wasn't the intention when B.A.S.S. made a new investment in technology. The purpose was to present a real-time scoreboard – available to both the public and the competitors – just like the scoreboards in major golf tournaments and every other major sporting event.
Each angler could choose to view that scoreboard on a wireless device, or not.
However, the revelation that individual locations would be included – that's what sent the pros over the top, and had them thinking of the worst that could happen in a highly competitive environment, like the Bassmaster Classic.
"We put a band-aid on the problem for this week," said Jerry McKinnis, one of the principle owners of B.A.S.S. "Going forward, we're going to develop this. We want to give the anglers their scores during competition, but not their locations.
"The rest of the world, other than our Elite anglers, will still get all that information (during the 2013 Classic).
"The anglers understand that knowledge of their weights makes a better competition. And they want the rest of the world to know all that information. They just don't want all that to be available among their little world at the time it's happening.
"Maybe that would have been a problem on the water this week, and maybe it wouldn't. But all 53 anglers were upset about it, so we needed to address it."
In summary, Thursday's ruling is as follows:
- The 2013 Bassmaster Classic competitors ARE allowed wireless communication with B.A.S.S. officials and ONLY B.A.S.S. officials during tournament hours, as has been the case in previous years.
- Competitors are NOT allowed any other type of wireless communication during tournament hours.
- Everyone, except the 53 competitors, WILL have Internet access to this new BASSTrakk technology: the real-time scoreboard and the anglers' location on Grand Lake via bassmaster.com.