The other morning I woke up to watch the final day of Bassmaster LIVE on Ross Barnett and instead found a video of Elite Series Tournament Director Trip Weldon canceling the day and postponing competition until the next day.
As Trip delivered his decision to cancel the day on camera, I could see the emotion, the stress and the genuine care for the anglers in his voice and on his face.
All at once I realized how my respect for Trip Weldon and Chuck Harbin and their tournament staff at B.A.S.S. has grown over the years.
Look, I don’t need to tell any of you that I might have been a class clown when I was in school. And class clowns and school principals don’t mix. Trip Weldon is the principal of the Elite Series – you see where I’m going here. I’m not going to lie, in my career at B.A.S.S., I’ve butted heads with Trip and Chuck on many occasions. I’ve thought some of their policies were absurd – just the way the class clown sees the “code of conduct” in the principal’s office as absurd.
It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to admit that I have taken Trip’s role at B.A.S.S. for granted for far too long. He does a job that most people could not do, myself included.
At a tournament, Trip is tasked with herding cats on a regular basis – getting everybody and everything from point A to point B and point C safely and securely. Making the logistics work consistently, day in and day out, across constantly changing conditions and venues is a miracle in itself.
Over the years I’ve learned that Trip’s job is not just enforcing rules – it encompasses so much more than that. He and his team have to consider so many variables in their line of work: venues, weather, permits, boundaries, local, state and federal laws, budgets, TV production – it’s mind numbing what he has to keep up with.
But the hardest part of Trip’s job, without a doubt, is rule enforcement. Trust me when I tell you, these guys have made decisions and calls in the field of play that they never wanted to make – ever. No one would want to make these decisions – but someone had to. They’ve had to make decisions that impact people’s lives and livelihoods – to render these kinds of difficult decisions takes its toll on a person, I don’t care who you are.
And it doesn’t stop there. No matter what kind of decision Trip makes, chances are there are going to be people on the raw end of that decision that are not going to be happy about it. Ever.
Is Trip going to be right 100 percent of the time? No. No one is right 100 percent of the time in any job. The man is human, like the rest of us. And you can bet one thing: When something goes wrong in the field, Trip is a first responder, trying to assess and remedy the situation to the best of his ability. He is the principal of the Bassmaster Elite Series and he is a tough principal, but the genuine care he has for his pros and the love he has for this sport is undeniable.
It’s a thankless job that is taken for granted. I’m the first to admit that I’m guilty of being thankless and taking what he and his team have done for our sport granted. They are one of the reasons the Elite Series truly is the Elite Series…thank you, Trip.