It is possible no one knows these angler dudes better than I know them. I live with them on the road, and not just the fancy times like this Classic gig, but during the mid-season downs, the end of season ups, through the breakdowns, through the late night Walmart runs, through rain, ice, and that 100-degree “feels like” thing.
I talk with them, I listen to them, I hear all the rumors of whose got what, whose on what, who ain’t on either.
I know who is feeling good, who has the sniffles, whose arm hurts, who's dialed in and who's dialed out.
So trust me when I say this, I know who is going to win.
The over/under, lay your money down winner will be…
Yep, you the fan. It doesn’t matter who raises the trophy, when you see that trophy raised I want you to know this one inescapable fact…without you there would be no trophy.
No big fancy expos or arenas.
No fancy boats, no fancy rods and reels, no fancy baits be they cranky or not.
Simple math, here it is: No fans, no B.A.S.S.
No fans, no GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
No sport no matter how popular is played in a vacuum, no one in the stands, no one on the field.
Greenville, S.C., is a very cool place, big companies with big buildings all over the place, a city about to be another southern star, they have opened up the welcome mat for us and all of you because they are cool, but also because we have fans, our fans will come here with pockets of quid and spend it here.
Now if this sport didn’t have any fans, if just me and my cousin Vinnie Boombots came to watch a couple guys fish, this town while still cool, wouldn’t even know we are here.
Truth: A whole bunch of this “show” is because of you.
Thank you for that.
B.A.S.S. is 50 now, let me say that again, B.A.S.S. is 50 now!
Any sport, this one included, that hits the big five-o moves up a level or two on the legit board, flash in the pan they ain’t.
We are gaining fans, I saw a kid in Connecticut the other day with a B.A.S.S. shirt on, darn near drove off the road and jumped out of the truck to hug him…but, you know…
Listen though, sure we’ve got “the South” as a fan base, but when thousands show up in upstate New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California…this here B.A.S.S. thing may have another 50 years to look forward to.
Soon we will be in South Dakota, never have done that before, don’t know how many will show up for that gig, but I’m going up there early and writing some stuff about the area. If I have to personally drive folks to the event, I will, will do what it takes to bring this sport to where it hasn’t been.
It won’t be in my time, but I fully can imagine B.A.S.S. fishing events in places like the state of Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, that other Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming and all the other states no one expects to see us in.
When a sport does the unexpected it gets another 50 years of life.
Here’s my bottom line, As I See It:
We didn’t hit 50 without you, we won’t hit 60, 70 or 100 without you. Share us and this sport with your friends and families, we have some bumps and bruises but I stake my entire career on this statement: We are safe for your kids.
And I think good for your kids, every one of these guys are incredibly accessible, every one is in their soul a working stiff. Every one in their soul loves what they do and would probably do it whether they made money at it or not (I’m going to have to buy several cold ones when they read that but it’s true).
It’s a good sport to get behind, and the Classic is a very cool thing to enjoy.
We say “it’s our Super Bowl,” but that’s not quite accurate, because it’s your Super Bowl as well.
Come be a part of it, the GEICO Bassmaster Expo presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods has like a bizillion vendors big and small, and the weigh-ins are like a rock show without you know, that smoke thing, both absolute family activities.
On Sunday someone will raise the Bassmaster Classic trophy, you know they don’t have to do that, we could just hand it to them and have them walk off the stage…but I believe, and I want you to believe as well, that when that trophy is raised it is raised for you as well.
A piece of that iron is yours pure and simple.
Now reality is that I’m pretty sure that whomever wins it won’t actually let me cut some of it up to give to you, but I will do this for you, in you the fans' honor I will pick up from the floor of the arena (or have one of the angler’s young kids do it because I have a bad back) several handfuls, a bunch of handfuls of the confetti that falls from the rafters, and I will carry it with me to every Elite event I’m at this year. If you want your share of the glory that you have helped us realize, you find me and I’ll give you a piece of the Classic confetti.
It is the absolute least I can do to say Thank You for these 50 years of B.A.S.S., my decade at B.A.S.S. and the next 50 years you will give these dudes.
So who wins here at this and every Classic…you.
And I, we, thank you,
P.S.: Yeah I know you thought this was over but one last thing, as I was driving from Connecticut to here in South Carolina on the various interstates I passed hundreds of electric utility trucks from all over this country. In West Virginia I passed a long line of utility trucks from Texas, who all were going back home after driving all the way up to New England to help restore power to the million or so folks without it.
To those in the utility trucks I want to personally say thank you, and if you happen to know someone who will climb into one of those trucks and drive thousands of miles only to work for hours on end to help strangers, please thank them as well.
Russia can troll us all they want, but when you know what hits the fan, we are there for each other, God bless America…
I’m done now.