I want to start this thing off by saying congratulations to Jordan Lee. It was a serious come from behind victory. Well done, Jordan.
There never was any doubt in my mind that he had the fishing skills to make it in this business. I had the opportunity to see him in college. His natural talent was obvious. And, from what else I’ve been able to observe it looks like he has the other skills — work ethic, personality — that he’ll need.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that his college experience probably had a lot to do with all of what he’s showing us. College is about learning about life and maturing. You go to college a kid and come out a young man. You learn how to stay on a schedule, act responsibly and you learn how to apply a longterm plan to reach a goal — your degree.
From what I’ve seen Jordan and his brother, Matt, conduct themselves like that. They prefish, go to bed early and generally try to stay on top of things.
All in all I’m happy for him. But, no matter how wonderful it is for him, it’s even bigger for our sport and more specifically for the college side of things. If we’re honest, that’s where our future lies. Gray beards might get a lot of media coverage and we probably win more tournaments, but in the end it’ll be the young anglers who’ll determine our future.
That’s why Jordan’s win matters. Schools will see the value in bass fishing — clubs, teams, scholarships — as well as the value to the young men and women who do it. And where they see value they’ll invest.
That thought brings me to something else that I don’t know much about. What’s the size of the average fishing scholarship? Are they big enough to take a real bite out of the cost of a college education, or are they in the courtesy class?
I’ve heard that there’s one school in Texas that’s bought several fully rigged bass boats for their team. Does anybody know if that’s true? If so, which school is it?
Beyond all this college stuff I’ve mentioned are the high school programs. I’m thinking that a Classic win by an angler who came up through the college ranks will encourage them, too. Most of them will be pretty close to a full generation back. They’ll be looking at an education supported by bass fishing. That speaks well for the future of our sport.
And let’s not forget something else. For bass fishing to flourish it isn’t necessary that every person who likes to fish participates in tournaments or wants to be a pro. Saturday afternoon guys make a big impact on things. And even those who drift away from bass fishing over the years will have a favorable view of it. They’ll support it in their communities and at the ballot box even if they don’t do it themselves.
It’s nice to see a young man win it all. It nicer when you stop to think about what it means for the rest of our sport.