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 Vol. 7, No. 9 

September 2005

~ Page 4 ~

Support the Sponsor

By Mike Benson

Image Last fall, ESPN and B.A.S.S. (i.e., Bass Angler's Sportsman's Society) mailed out an information packet to all of the BassMaster fishing pros requiring them to wear a patch endorsing Anheuser-Busch beer. When pros first learned of the new mandate, many were angered and contacted ESPN/B.A.S.S. to voice their opposition. At first, the partner companies assured fisherman that they would not have to wear the patch after all. But following a discussion with Busch, the pros were told that they must exhibit the patch on their clothing or forfeit their points in pursuit of the "Angler of the Year" [AOY] award as well as the $100,000 prize money.

The ramifications of this new policy were profound. No Busch patch meant no points, no AOY award, no participation in the BassMaster classic, and therefore no requalifying for the following year's fishing tour. In other words, no patch--no bass fishing career.

Oddly enough, the information packet mailed out to pros also stated, "B.A.S.S. does not expect any angler to endorse a B.A.S.S. sponsor... Participating in the NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch or Craftsman truck series does not obligate or imply that one uses or endorses those series sponsor's products. It is, however, expected and logical that one would be appreciative of and supportive of their involvement in the sport" [emphasis mine-mb]. A number of anglers saw the obvious inconsistency. They asked, "How do you not endorse alcohol, but then simultaneously display the toxic brew on the sleeve of your shirt?"

Lendell Martin Jr., a popular fishing professional, dropped out of the BassMaster tour late last fall when the new rule went into effect. He noted, "[B.A.S.S.] took a whole new direction... To me it's a family sport, and we have programs like 'Get hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs.'" Martin refused to wear the AOY patch because he had experienced a problem with alcohol earlier in life.

Observations:

  1. I applaud Mr. Martin for his high moral stance. He was willing to sacrifice his career with BassMaster because of the principle involved. Money was secondary to his influence and character (Proverbs 22:1). Family was more important than finance.

  2. How will BassMaster fishing pros encourage teens that are grappling with a drinking problem to abstain from beverage alcohol? How can you tell a kid to avoid drugs with a colorful patch depicting the most popular drug in America on the side of your shirt? One pro, Ish Monroe, commented, "I'm [fishing] to make money... You can't even see the beer on the patch it's so small." (Actually, the AOY patch measures 2 7/8" x 2 1/2" and must also be displayed in larger sticker-form in a visible position on the side of the angler's boat.) Dear reader, whether the patch is 2 centimeters in circumference or the size of the Grand Canyon is irrelevant. It is impossible to tell a youngster to abstain from drugs and then advocate their consumption on your attire (Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1).

  3. I can't help but wonder if these fisherman fully appreciate the devastating effects of drinking on the youth of our nation (Matthew 18:6). Consider the following statistics:

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