Sports. Go ahead and pick one...
What sport comes to your mind with the subject surfaces?
It kind of depends on what time of year it is, right? But then not everyone follows sports, no matter which venue it may be.
My wife might just be onto something about my hobby of bass fishing being a full fledged obsession.
The world series of bass fishing held its championship tournament earlier this year in nearby Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. What an opportunity for any fan of bass fishing to attend 'THE' event. Every year the Classic is held on different bodies of water and this year would be the Red River.
It would have been nice to attend the entire weeks worth of activities, but I opted to make the final day of the tournament. To see the winner take home the $500,000.00 dollar check, the trophy, bragging rights, and not to mention a few other perks that come with simply being the champion.
Take a few moments and read the rest of my story and you might get an idea of what this middle aged kid got to witness that one single day back in February this year.
I drove to Shreveport, Louisiana to experience the BASSMASTER 2009 Classic. Even though it was for the final and third day of the tournament, it proved to be a great choice. In fact, since BASS changed the timing of the Classic to the start of the season, it is my opinion that this only stokes the emotional fires of the Elite series anglers.
The BASSMASTER 2009 Classic is now just a memory and one I will visit every time I hear certain Elite angler names. The only regret I have is not being there for the entire week.
While visiting the EXPO, I almost won KVD’s boat from last year that was being given away. The catch was that my entry card along with several thousand other cards did not get picked.
How cool would that have been? Hitching up that wrapped rig and dragging it back home. Man oh man.
Yeah, you also had to be present to win which resulted in that corner of the exhibit hall being jammed packed with more than a few hopefuls. Someone from Morgan City, Louisiana whose name escapes me for now won the boat. After the drawing, the crowd dispersed back into and around the many great exhibits.
With information from connections through my freelance writing, I was able to gain entry to areas normally off-limits to the everyday bass angling fan. Let me tell you the experience was absolutely incredible. For those of you that only get to watch this on TV or on your computer, it’s just like that only BETTER!
Standing on the main floor watching the crowd file in, I noticed the set of banners hanging from the steel of this massive structure. These banners named the winners of each Classic since its inception. Makes you stop and think about how many casts and retrieves these banners actually represent and the winning lures that were lauded at the closing ceremonies.
My next stop would be the boatyard. If you have never been to a BASS event, you may not know that there is a team of people designated to clean each boat and tow vehicle prior to being presented to the public eye. I suppose a classic event would require a classic look. These few people give each rig a Classic Shine.
In writing this, I remember a few years ago when the Elite series visited my home lake of Sam Rayburn, my son and I found Skeet Reese washing his own rig at a local car wash. Yeah, we stopped and asked him if he needed any help, he instead stopped and gave us his autograph. Quite a guy that Skeet Reese, and today you can add 2009 World Champion Bass Angler to his name.
The boatyard itself is a bevy of activity. There were people with note pads, laptops, cameras, and microphones everywhere. This event is not going unnoticed, besides, it is the Classic.
Guys, this is so neat. Being able to pick your target and walk up and talk about their day on the water, snap a picture, and then move on to your next angler. These guys are so approachable and appreciative of the fan base.
Just a few that I got some quality time with are Alton Jones, Shaw Grigsby, Bill Lowen, Brian Schmidt, Bobby Lane, and Kelly Jordon.
Back inside along the edge of the main floor where I waited for the victory lap, I caught some motion out of my right eye. There were a couple of young boys there and they were wearing their custom fitted jersey of their favorite angler. Their choice was Kevin Van Dam.
Then I realized that these boys were twins.
It was right about now that I remembered that Kevin and his wife
Sherry, have a set of twins. You don’t think, maybe, yep, I turned around and checked out the few people behind me, Kevin and the Mrs. were standing there taking in the final moments of the weigh-in.
To me, that just defines the class that this man has and is made up of. Respect for the sport and supporting the very anglers that he battled with for the coveted title of World Champion, OR he may have been stoking his fire for the coming season. Either way, KVD is a force to be reckoned with.
The band of brothers that make up the Elite Series Tournament anglers is way more than what we see on the limited basis we are fed through the media. There is a respect for each other and a spirit that extends beyond the bodies of water that are stirred during each tournament. To see them huddled together in the media room discussing the day, the choices made on the water, or other personal stuff. These guys are truly Elite.
My thanks to Jaison and Ken for your consideration. What a Classic.