Is it over or has it just begun? About 10 anglers usually have just begun their Classic after the first day. The rest are done. If you are in or around the Top 10 in the standings after day one, you are now in the hunt to win the biggest bass tournament on earth. If you are out of roughly the Top 10, you don't have a shot to win. Take your money and enjoy your experience. I can tell you that fishing on the third day beats the heck out of working the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo. Being that I have never been in the Top 10 after day one, I can only tell how the rest feels.
You dream about being the winner. You practiced so hard. You prepared extensively. Somehow you were able to focus on fishing with all the excitement. You even execute well on day one. You weigh your fish and love the spotlight of the huge crowd. The day is over and you see the standings. You are not near the leaders. Your chances of winning are over.
Why am I still pumped about day two? The likelihood of winning is out the window. My family came a long way to celebrate with me. The leaders are mostly the same ones that are always at the top of the leaderboard. They don't slip. All my friends are watching the Internet and TV to see me in the hunt. Many sponsors are here to display and support their anglers but they really just want you to win the tournament. Many media members "secretly" tell you that they are pulling for you. If you are a people pleaser, you feel like you let everyone down.
Day one was all about adrenaline and butterflies. The anticipation and preparation finally culminated with the big bang on the first day of the Bassmaster Classic. You know that it was a bust, not a bang. It was nothing you did wrong. However all your supporters and family like to tell you that you did well and you can still do it. You know they are just trying to make you feel good, which reassures you that you are actually out of it.
My first two Classics went just like this. I was out of it and mentally I could not see my winning the event. I still went out and fished my heart out since I did not know any better. In 2007, I fished the Classic on Lay Lake. On the first day, I lost the fish to put me in the top 3 without a doubt. Another competitor, Russ Lane, was about 30 yards away and saw me jump off one that he estimated was in the 8-pound range. I lost another 4-pound chunk that day. I replayed those fish 1,000 times in my head and I made no major mistakes. Everyone does not know you should be in the top 3 but you are now out of it. That is a hard pill to swallow.
In life, you will get knocked down. Whether you lay down or get up is your choice. It is the same for the Classic. It sounds easy but it is not. It is a slow and challenging process to change your paradigm into a "never give up"* outlook and believe it. Forget what happened and focus on what is in front of you. If you watch the standings, you will see the ones that give up and the ones that never give up.*
* Used without written consent from Mike Iaconelli but if you are good enough friends with another grown man to hug them in public, it is automatically given.