The Bachelor's Affect on Bass Fishing
The weekly drama known as "The Bachelor" has ended and Bass Pro Byron Velvick has selected his soul-mate. Tens of Millions of television viewers got their first glimpse of Professional Bass fishing throughout the season. This series has generated a lot of talk amongst members of the fishing community about how much Velvick's performance is going to help the industry. There is no doubt that it will have some affect on the future of our great sport, but will the attention be as great as what is predicted?
While I personally think that it was great that Byron went on television and put competitive bass fishing in front of an outstanding number of viewers, I don't think the hype is going to affect very many anglers in the short term. There will likely be a select few that benefit from new and improved sponsorships. Velvick will obviously be one of the anglers that will see a huge influx of interest from potential sponsors, but overall I don't expect to see an obscene number of new sponsors in the upcoming season.
In a nutshell, Byron appearing on such a huge television series will have great long term implications for bass fishing. I had a conversation with Bassmaster Classic Champion Mike Iaconnelli and we shared some similar viewpoints on the subject. During our conversation, I asked Ike what affect he thought The Bachelor would have on bass fishing. Mike said "Awesome, the more times the words 'bass fishing' is brought up in main stream media, the better. It's all about awareness. There are still people out there who don't know about professional bass fishing. It's all good man." I also asked Mike if he thought the growth would be based solely on the fact that Velvick was on television so much, "No not just because of that, more like in addition to that," he said. "I've had opportunities to do stuff with Playboy, GQ, Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, etc. Other anglers are also breaking the traditional media barrier. All of this together along with the tournament organizations themselves bring better attention to the sport. FLW will be on FOX next year and ESPN is doing a great job with B.A.S.S."
What I expect to see is more individuals trying their luck at competitive bass fishing. Although the largest portion of the viewing audience was women, there were still a substantial number of male viewers. Some of these individuals may have been completely unaware that competitive fishing even existed. Now that they have been introduced to the sport, I am sure a lot of them will join our family.
In the long run the effects will be wide spread. The larger number of participants will make tournament circuits even more valuable to corporate America. These higher numbers will attract more companies that are not endemic to the industry. If a company sees a new avenue to promote their products or services to a large portion of their target market, you can bet they will jump on it. I would expect to see a lot more companies start to use fishing as a promotional tool. "It's all going to take time. In the last years, there's been more main stream media attention in bass fishing than ever before. But it's like the domino effect; once non-endemic sponsors start entering the game, others will follow. Hopefully it will take the path of other sports like NASCAR and golf," Iaconnelli explained.
With the new anglers and sponsors entering the fishing community, I also expect to see an increase in tournament payouts. I would not be the least bit surprised if FLW and Genmar owner Irwin Jacobs has the first $1,000,000 Championship tournament payout in the next few years. Jacobs is one heck of a business man and he knows how to take advantage of every opportunity put in front of him. His aggressive approach with sponsors is allowing the tournament purses to increase significantly. When you add guys like Earl Bentz, Ray Scott and Irwin Jacobs to the mass marketing activities of anglers like Byron Velvick and Mike Iaconnelli, the end result will be huge. The affects of Velvick's appearance on "The Bachelor," will continue to be felt long after the "Reality Show" phenomenon has been forgotten. I just wouldn't expect to see any major changes right away.
Until next time, Fish Hard, Fish Often and Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game.