And the winner is ... Kevin VanDam! Again. And so goes the collective groan in our office. It's not because we have anything against Kevin VanDam.
His skill is incredible, and his hatred of losing is palpable. But the thought of putting him on the cover of our magazines again makes us cringe. In the last five years, Kevin VanDam has made the cover of BASS Times eight times.
Mathematically, that means he is on our cover 13.3 percent of the time. His closest competitor? As in life, it is Skeet Reese. He has been on the cover four times in five years.
For reference, only a handful of other anglers have gotten cover photos twice; most are one-timers. It's not arbitrary. We don't just give covers to the anglers we like the most. The cover boy (or girl) is the one who has most recently won a major tournament or award. But VanDam just keeps on winning, and therefore, he keeps getting on our cover.
At first, it was amusing. In 2005, we had a chuckle or two about VanDam getting two covers in a row. But you remember 2005, right? He was on fire. He caught that monster lake record (11-13) out of Lewisville during an E-50 and won that tournament, then won the next one, then won the Classic.
It was the beginning of total VanDomination. In 2006, VanDam didn't win any tournaments, and he didn't get any covers.
In 2007, he won two tournaments, got two covers, and was bested by only one person in season-long winnings: Skeet Reese. But in 2008, he hopped onto our cover once, and again in 2009.
In 2010, he's already gotten the April and August covers, and, well, you can see what we did with this month's cover. Let me clarify that not everyone in our office minds the VanDam: Cover Boy phenomenon. Ken Duke, editor of Bassmaster.com, would be happy if we renamed the magazine KVD Times. "He's a great guy and a terrific interview," explained Duke, "and he always makes himself available to the media." Yeah, right. VanDam once called the editor "The Great Ken Duke," and Duke has held onto that moment much like a toddler with her first doll. In fact, Duke is so protective of KVD's image that he often requests that we call the pro "Kevin VanDarn, just to keep it clean."
KVD's name is so familiar in our office, we often call him by his first name. But sometimes we call him Keith because after a late night at a tournament once, I accidentally called him Keith. He was not amused. It's like calling Tiger Woods the wrong name, like Tigger. Embarrassing. But the story lives on in our office, and every time VanDam wins a tournament, first there's the groan, then there's the question, "Oh, Keith won again?"
Last fall, when VanDam won 2009 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the photo we ran on the cover showed off VanDam's dominance on this award: He was holding up five fingers to show it was his fifth title.
I joked to my cubicle mates that the next year, he'd probably be holding up six fingers, and that a few years from now, he'd have to add toes to the mix. The day after VanDam won the title this year, I picked up last year's cover and said out loud that, for efficiency's sake, we should just tack on an extra finger and change the year on the trophy; it would be like recycling. My boss — and editor of this lovely publication — called me on it. "Yes, do it!"
So, thanks to the handy work of our designer, Bill Gantt, we now have a photo of a six-fingered VanDam. Acting on the advice of some of the more straight-laced people in our department, it did not make it onto our cover.
But it was fun nonetheless!