The weekly drama "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 will help the industry. There is no doubt that it will affect the future of our great sport, but will the attention be as great as what is predicted?
While I think that it was great that Byron went on television and put competitive bass fishing in front of a significant 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 be one of the anglers to see a massive influx of interest from potential sponsors. Still, 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 tremendous 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. I asked Ike what effect he thought The Bachelor would have on bass fishing during our conversation. Mike said, "Awesome, the more times the words 'bass fishing' is brought up in mainstream media, the better. It's all about awareness. There are still people 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. Together with the tournament organizations themselves, all of this brings better attention to the sport. FLW will be on FOX next year, and ESPN is doing a great job with B.A.S.S."
I expect to see more individuals trying their luck at competitive bass fishing. Although the most significant portion of the viewing audience was women, there were still many male viewers. Some of these individuals may have been entirely unaware that competitive fishing existed. Now that they have been introduced to the sport, I am sure many of them will join our family.
In the long run, the effects will be widespread. The more significant number of participants will make tournament circuits even more valuable to corporate America. These higher numbers will attract more companies that are not endemic. 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 many more companies start to use fishing as a promotional tool. "It's all going to take time. There's been more mainstream media attention in bass fishing in the last years 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 increase 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 businessman, 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. The result will be huge 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 effects of Velvick's appearance on "The Bachelor" will continue to be felt long after the "Reality Show" phenomenon has been forgotten. I wouldn't expect to see any significant changes right away.
Until next time, Fish Hard, Fish Often and Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game.