Vol. 7, No. 9
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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.
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.
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).
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:
Money is important (1 Timothy 5:8], but not to such a degree that it ruins our influence, harms our bodies, and destroys our lives.
One day, those in corporate America--including ESPN, B.A.S.S., and Busch--will learn this lesson in a very painful way (1 Thessalonians 1:6ff).
Drunk driving is the leading single cause of death among 15-24 year-olds.
The most popular drink among teenagers is beer.
14 teenagers die every day and another 360 are injured in crashes involving drunk driving.
Of 330 children born today in the U.S., one will die and four will sustain serious or crippling injuries in an alcohol-related crash before they reach the age of 24.
Fetal exposure to alcohol is a leading cause of mental retardation.
Alcohol is a major cause of divorce, wife abuse and child molesting.
Alcohol is involved in 60 percent of child abuse cases, 75 percent of all broken homes, and 50 percent of all homicides.
Alcohol is a major contributor to teen suicide attempts; a third of all suicides are alcohol-related.
Youth who drink before age 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
An early age of drinking onset is associated with alcohol-related violence not only among persons under age 21 but among adults as well.
The total cost attributable to the consequences of underage drinking was more than $58 billion per year in 1998 dollars.
More than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
26 percent of young male drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2000 had been drinking at the time of the crash, compared with 13 percent of the young female drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Findings from a 1994 study suggest that alcohol advertising may predispose young people to drinking. In 1999, $764.2 million was spent on beer ads.
The median age at which children begin drinking is 13. (See http://www.madd.org for further information.)