A Change of Plans

Things change. I’m not going to fish the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Lake Erie. I’m going to the Bristol Motor Speedway to work with one of my sponsors, Toyota, instead. I like to fish but I’m really, really excited about this trip.

Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on car and truck racing or anything like that. But I am a fan, and this is a great opportunity. I’ll be greeting the fans at one of the gates but I also get to hang out with the Toyota guys in the pit. That’s bound to be a different experience. I’m guessing it’ll turn out to be like professional bass fishing — very different when you see it from the inside.

If you’re not a racing fan — and you should be — you might not know that Toyota has a huge presence in it. I don’t know exactly how many races they enter or how many drivers they have but it’s a lot. I mean, they’re all over the place. You can get a complete schedule and all the details from their Web site at ToyotaRacing.com. The whole thing is fascinating to me.

I know you are probably thinking I’m saying all that stuff because I’m sponsored by them but, hey, the truth is the truth. Every sport, at every level, needs money to operate. That’s a fact of life. Toyota provides that money for several sports.

Look at professional bass fishing. If it wasn’t for them, and other companies like them, we’d be in a heck of a shape. It’s not just the anglers they support, either. It’s the sport in general. On some level, sponsors make it all possible.

They keep me, and a lot of other guys, on the road traveling from one event to another. That helps me but it also helps you. My experiences get you information about lakes and rivers, hot techniques and new lures. That helps you catch more fish.

Their racing team does the same thing. None of us drive cars or trucks like they put on the track. Don’t kid yourself, though, much of what they learn on the track is transferred over to ordinary vehicles. As a result, we all drive higher quality, more fuel efficient and safer vehicles.

I’m talking about this because we need to keep the big picture in mind. Bass fishing, or any other sport, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Sponsors make a lot of things happen, good things that help us all.

Toyota’s not the only company out there doing this, but they’re one of the most active. We need to keep their contributions in mind, as well as the contributions from all the other sponsors. Think about that the next time you make a purchase. It’s a matter of who is helping us and who isn’t.

If you can make it to Bristol this weekend, stop by and say hello. I’ll be at one of the gates signing autographs.

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