Let kids be kids

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Gettys Brannon
Marshall Robinson (right) and Mason Fulmer of the Byrnes Rebels bass club won the 2018 Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell.

In the world of competitive bass fishing, the mentality has always been the same.

About 90 percent of tournament anglers are fiercely competitive and will gladly fish against anybody, any place, any time.

The other 10 percent — which is often the most vocal percentage — wants to win by simply locking all the best competition outside the gates.

I covered this topic a while back with a column that posed the question: Do Elite pros in the Opens scare you?

It made for some great conversation about whether Elite Series regulars should be allowed to fish the Bass Pros Shops Bassmaster Opens. For the record, they are allowed — and about a dozen of them fished the most recent Open on the Arkansas River, all finishing behind an Arkansas journeyman named Harvey Horne.

Today, I’ll pose another question:

Do the children of Elite Series pros scare you?

No, I’m serious.

That’s actually the question — and I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t already know some people’s answer.

Back on April 14, Marshall Robinson and Mason Fulmer of the Byrnes Rebels fishing team won the Mossy Oak Bassmaster High School Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell.

Marshall is the young son of Elite Series pro Marty Robinson — and apparently, that’s a problem for some people who feel having a pro fisherman as a father gives Marshall an unfair advantage.

Iris Robinson — Marty’s wife and Marshall’s mother — heard so many hurtful comments on the issue that she was compelled to make a long Facebook post defending her child. The post was classy, calm and collected.

But make no mistake, she was mad — and she had every right to be.

Her son, who spends all of his spare time fishing while many of his friends prefer other pursuits, has worked hard to be a successful tournament angler. It’s in his blood. He’s following in the positive footsteps of his dad — and that shouldn’t be a problem. 

But in youth sports, some parents want to make it a problem. They want so badly to believe their kid is the best at everything that they look for any crumb of an excuse to latch onto when the results say otherwise.

Even if it means putting someone else’s kid down. 

I could launch into a long lecture about how it isn’t necessarily guaranteed that the children of sports stars will go on to become sports stars themselves.

I could tell you that Michael Jordan’s son, Jeff, averaged just 1.6 points per game during his four-year college basketball career with Illinois and Central Florida. I could tell you that Deion Sanders Jr. barely did enough to warrant his own Wikipedia page during a lackluster college football career at SMU. 

I could remind you that children in Bassmaster High School events can receive minimal help from their fathers or anyone else on tournament day — and even when an Elite pro serves as a boat captain at a high school tournament, he spends most of his time twiddling his thumbs. 

I could go on and on. 

But frankly, if you’re the one I’m speaking to — the one who’s been trolling Facebook pages, making tactless comments about somebody’s little one — you don’t deserve that much of my time.

So, I’ll just leave you with two bits of advice.

First, don’t try to lift your kids up by pushing other kids down.

You’re not opening doors for them, you’re simply delaying the inevitable. They’ll eventually have to face the best possible competition — and no amount of excuses from mommy and daddy will make a difference.

My second bit of advice is this:

Take a week off from work.

Clear your schedule and clear your mind.

Then go out and get yourself a life.