In today’s society, it’s all about winning.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s NASCAR, PGA, NBA, MLB or any sport, fans, media and sponsors of those sports gravitate toward winners.
You can finish second 17 times or consistently be among the leaders, but nothing delivers the recognition or importance to one’s career like winning does.
Especially in our sport of professional bass fishing.
Think about this: We have only nine Elite events, one Classic and a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship. During the Elite events, there are 110 anglers vying for one spot in those regular season events.
Most other sports have far more events, and in many cases, fewer competitors. More opportunities to win.
Couple that with the fact that our competition is tougher today, so that only adds to the magnitude of winning any time you get that opportunity.
I know. I’ve been fortunate to win quite a few over the years, and I appreciate the last win more than any other. I had gone quite a while without winning until I won at Toledo Bend in 2016 and I realized even more what a victory can mean to an angler.
The magnitude of winning impacts anglers at all levels of Bassmaster competition. I promise you that those who have won Bassmaster Opens, B.A.S.S. Nation Championships or Bassmaster College Series Championships know it’s a life changing experience.
Few people outside the competition can relate to the how huge winning is because they don’t realize how hard it is to do unless you’re part of that competition.
We’ve had some memorable wins among Elite events recently and those anglers know what I’m talking about. Rick Clunn’s win at the St. John’s River and Tim Horton’s win at Okeechobee comes to mind because both pros had gone a long time without a win.
And who can forget Jordan Lee’s come-from-behind Bassmaster Classic victory? There’s an angler who is finding out what the enormity a major win means to a career.
I just left a sponsor media event that was attended by Jordan. The attention he got from the media was overwhelming compared to previous media events he’s attended. Couple that with potential sponsors that are lining up and the attention he’s getting from his current sponsors; it can boggle the mind.
That’s what winning can do.
Last week, John Murray got his first Elite Series win. John is one of the nicest guys on tour who has fished a ton of Elite events and is highly regarded as a tremendous angler by those who fish against him.
He was a West Coast legend before coming to the Elites and has won more tournaments and boats in western tournaments than any other.
But his first Elite win - despite having a lot of close calls – will elevate his career and mean more to him than anything else he’s ever won.
As important as winning is, I understand why rookies coming into the Elites are focused primarily on making cuts and earning checks. They don’t want to bomb so they fish conservatively. I did that too, early on. You have to, because it’s a tough business to just survive until you get established.
But in today’s world, I’m not sure that’s the right attitude because of the value our society puts on winning as opposed to just being “competitive.”
Besides, once you learn to win at this level, it changes your mentality. You will see anglers go for years without winning then suddenly they begin showing up in the winner’s circle more frequently.
That’s because they learn the magnitude of winning and that playing it conservatively to get a check isn’t the best way to leave your mark on the sport.
And, in this sport, it’s all about the attitude!