Ike: The future of our sport, part 3

We need more Toyotas.

What I mean when I say that is we need more nonendemic sponsors with financial muscle in the sport. It’s the only viable path forward. But before we talk about that in more detail we need to think about what the terms endemic and nonendemic really mean.

The term endemic means that something’s a natural part of something else. This is not the dictionary definition. It’s meant to be a common sense definition.

In the fishing industry we tend to think of an endemic sponsor as a company that makes something directly related to catching fish. Things like boats, motors, electronics, tackle and lures fall into that definition. A company like that is a natural fit. It’s the obvious of what we’re talking about.

For the most part, the companies that fall into that category are our sponsors. They pay us money and give us product so that we’ll catch fish with them and, hopefully, help sell those products to the fishing public. It’s no different than what you see in the NBA with the athletes’ promotion of basketball shoes.

There’s another category of sponsors out there, however. They’re not strictly endemic, but they do make and sell things the pros, as well as our families and friends, use. Maybe we should call them blended sponsors.

Everyone I know drinks soda and occasionally eats a potato chip. We all (hopefully) use body soap and deodorant. Some of us use shampoo. We all purchase insurance. We all buy or lease trucks and cars. We all buy tires, mufflers and other stuff for those trucks and cars. We have them repaired when they run out of warranty.

Toyota is a super example of what I’m talking about. I’d wager a guess that whenever a fellow goes into a Toyota dealership for a tow vehicle he also looks at their cars. Maybe he takes someone else with him. You have to figure that they sell or lease cars as a direct result of their commitment to fishing. It’s not trucks to bass anglers or nothing.   

This is a natural pool of advertisers that could put money into our sport that, as of right now, remains largely untapped. We don’t have the demographics of some of the bigger sports so we can’t get the money that movie stars and big team athletes get, but we should be able to get something.

This is an area where B.A.S.S. and several of our top anglers have made great strides. They’ve done a good job getting so-called nonendemic sponsors into the mix. I’m not going to try to name them for fear of leaving someone out. However, I encourage everyone to look over our tournament sponsors carefully and use their products whenever possible. It’s the least we can do.

B.A.S.S. deserves a lot of credit for what they’ve accomplished. I wasn’t involved in the negotiations, but I can tell you from my personal experience with sponsors that it wasn’t easy. Somebody put in long days, and they did it with an eye towards the future.

We need to continue to work on this aspect of our sport. There’s no alternative. Money is a fact of life. Without it we will die, or turn into a sport for the wealthy. No one I know wants to see that happen.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.