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Monday, January 4, 2010

• BASS Eliminates WBT Trail

BASS has eliminated the Women's Bassmaster Tournament Trail claiming a decline in participation.

http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/tournaments/wbt/news/story?id=4794697

Now, I understand hard times are upon us and being a tournament angler is an expensive ordeal. The story still does not add up. The WBT Championship was hosted here in Shreveport/Bossier a while back. The ladies were all very gracious and eager to be here. Their enthusiasm for the sport was nothing short of fantastic during the weigh-ins. The applause from the large crowd made all in the WBT feel right at home. Yes, I said large crowd.

Reduced participation certainly wasn't apparent in my eyes.

What was apparent was a lack of interest from BASS. Days prior to the event, I browsed the net in search of information related to the WBT Championship. I was going to blog about the event. The BASS web site didn't have any articles until one or two days before the championship started. The only thing I could find on the BASS web site was related to the 2010 schedule, which we now know has been eliminated altogether. The participation on behalf of BASS appeared to be the weak spot.

Even the event itself showed a lackluster involvement by BASS. Two or three sets of wooden bleachers were set up for the weigh in. It was clear they were either not expecting a large crowd or they didn't want to bother with offering enough seats. On day one of the event, the crowd was so large, people were standing 50 to 100 feet on either side of those bleachers. No effort was made to rectify the seating problem in the days which followed.

In February of 2009, Kim Bain-Moore was the first woman to compete in the men's Bassmaster Classic. The media circus surrounding her involvement was mostly positive, but when they started discussing her participation with male anglers, it was apparent she was not as welcome as one might had hoped. Several men went on record and on camera voicing their disagreement with the decision to allow her into the tournament. I didn't hear much of an uproar from BASS after those comments were made.

No, my fellow anglers. There were clear signs BASS had little interest in supporting the WBT. The guys, on the other hand, had media coverage weeks before the event along with plenty of BASS web site coverage.

The women of the WBT had nothing but nice things to say and thanked all of us for coming out and supporting them. They encouraged other women to enter into the fray. Many said things like "If you can fish, you can be a WBT angler." Perhaps that was hinting at the eventual demise of the trail, but in my eyes, the WBT anglers were a lively bunch.

I'm left wondering what will happen to Pam Martin-Wells. During the WBT Championship trophy ceremony, she was emotional and expressed how becoming Angler of the Year and being allowed to fish the Classic (on more or less a home lake of hers) was a dream come true. I wonder, will she respectfully decline in protest of the recent decision or will she use her participation as a sign of resilience on behalf of the female angler community?

Whatever the eventual outcome, I enjoyed being able to see these ladies bring fish to the scales. I'm proud to have been part of the event. I'm proud to have been able to blog about their time here on Cypress Black Bayou. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for what they were doing. Hopefully, they will be able to continue in the sport on some other level, sponsorship and all.

Related Posts:
WBT Championship Commentary
WBT Championship Moved to Cypress Black Bayou
WBT Championship Day 1
WBT Championship Day 2
WBT Championship Day 3

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