A POLYGRAPH test just makes up for a lack of witnesses...

You’ll probably find it amusing, but I’m seriously considering one more shot at competing in the U.S. Open. It’s a little bit risky, ie. small boat, big lake. And I have no delusions: I’m an unlikely contender for a title, so I’ll probably get pummeled for a bad showing. Still, I wonder what if somehow I was at a place in the standings where the dreaded “lie-detector test” might come into play?

We’ve all come to realize the polygraph test, and not just an oversized check and the inconic “trophy lift” are all a part of the tournament game today.

Yet, think of the finite issues that take place in an actual day of fishing for which we almost never have to answer. They could be as innocuous us not mentioning the color of the trailer on that Road Runner to indicating which floating restroom you used on Tuesday.

And yet, far more than validating a day’s performance, there is some trepidation over taking a polygraph, especially as pertaining to things that have nothing to do with a specific tournament. Nobody wants an agent asking about someone’s foolish behavior as a teen; how one passed a certain calculus test as a sophomore in college? Or did the boat captain really have the authority to marry a couple?

The fact is (figuratively speaking) just about everyone has made a cast over the buoy line in their lives–even if it’s just a short, quick cast.

On the other hand, from all I have learned on the matter, such questions will not materialize. To validate a test, it is only required to find one’s “baseline” cardio/pulmanory/skin conductivity response to a question all are sure is truthful. The questioning, however laborious, is directed toward discovering if there is any issue directly relevant to the particular event for which you might receive prizes or rewards.

Of course, I know there are individuals who “don’t test well” and I can understand their concern. Then there are others, who in my view, are not particularly malicious, but are certainly careless in their actions and maybe even a little quick to excuse themselves. Likewise, there may be still others who feel such administration of a polygraph is somehow a violation of their personal freedoms, or merely bad science.

But with regard to these latter individuals, if participation in the U.S. Open is in their plans, then they’ll need to understand, the test is administered for the protection of all participants–including the one being tested. It is not an accusatory practice, but I’m convinced it is a necesarry one.

So what are the options? One, of course, is to stay home. On the other hand, reading and studying the rules in advance, scouting the lake to see how the tenets of the written rules match up with the actual physical realities of the lake will help avoid any gray areas in the law. And then, to be sure, calling and pestering the tournament director every time you have a question between now and the event, would be my recommendation.

I know he’ll be hearing from me.


3 Responses to “Polygraphs and avoiding the ‘gray areas’”

Hi George

Thanks for the email about your column today. I am not sure why you seem to be saying that you would be required to take a polygrapgh at the U.S. OPEN, as I don’t know of even one case where anyone was ever asked to take a polygraph test at the U.S. OPEN. I don’t personally think it is necessary, and I do think there are a lot of top anglers who would object to it. And as you know we have had a few people caught trying to cheat at the US OPEN, but none of them were our leaders and they wouldn’t have been asked to take polygraph test unless we tested everyone who won. And at $500.00+ per polygraph test I don’t think it’s very likely that we will test everyone who gets a check.

Like all organizations, our rules state that we have the right to do a polygraph test anyone, and we will take the appropriate action based a failed polygraph result.

I think it would be great if you did again fish the U.S. OPEN and I think you could certainly be competitive on a tough lake like Lake Mead, where getting a limit of 2-pounders probably puts you near the top. In that regard it’s like your home lake, and I wouldn’t bet against you doing well there, and especially when it’s tough.

I hope this helps, and as always your blog is great.

Bob Twilegar

by George Kramer

Tour regulars with solid reputations probably don’t give it a second thought, but the polygraph is the implied hammer that hovers over the proceedings. And that’s a good thing. I just know I would not want to be in that position inadvertantly, and so I will become a student of the venue and the restrictions. And hope you get 200 boats.

Things may have changed over the years, but during my intel training ( 1966) I was taught that any valid polygraph test requires that ALL questions to be asked must be told to the testee before testing. This supposedly eliminated much of the “fear factor” and “surprise factors” during testing that give conflicted results.