There is some argument on the eve of the Bassmasters Classic about new technology that will allow viewers to see where the contestants actually are. Called the BASSTrakk system, presumably by means of GPS, it shows specifically each in the field at work–a great idea for fans, but certainly a mistake if allowed to be seen by the competitors.*

But as of this moment, that’s B.A.S.S.’ intention.

Bass fishing already suffers from a lack of respect as a sport since there is no “defense” allowed. The one sporting advantage the players actually can defend is their location–by keeping that important information to themselves. Sure, there are going to be leaks, but there should be no wholesale release of key information to everyone else in the tournament.

Of course, we can no longer trust B.A.S.S. to make correct decisions (although they may change their stance on this at any moment.)

But think about it.

Pitching coach comes to the mound with the catcher: pitcher covers his mouth with his glove to keep from revealing strategy. On serve in beach volleyball, receiving team flashes signals behind their backs as to their defensive tactic. And in football, two sideline coaches or bench players madly hand-signal plays to the quarterback on the field–one real, one bogus–to keep the opponent guessing.

In bass fishing, our favorite non-sport and in the World Championship no less, the players should not be forced to give away their positions. It’s all they have to defend.

*Thanks to Brian Day for blog idea

25 Responses to “Classic doomed by ‘too much information’?”

Wow, technology at it’s finest.

As a techno dude, I am all for implementing this tool to help garner interest in the sport and to add excitement. However, it should be utilized during the last day of the Classic as to not impede the contestants by giving up fishing spots to all the lookie-lews or people who may try to beat an angler to a spot and fish “their” water.

There is an easier solution. Just go back to warm weather Championships so the crowd can follow, the kids are off school so they can enjoy the Pro’s and it can be a vacation destination again.

Maybe they picked this time of year to make it more difficult for the pros. To make it more of a challenge to their skills. I read somewhere that they will have to transport the fish in their livewells 1.5 hours to the weigh-in in Tulsa each day. Not so sure that’s a good idea from a conservation standpoint. But maybe they know what they’re doing? I dunno.

Okay, the BassTrakk map was working for me this morning but isn’t working now. Did they shut it down?

Have not heard anything official. Maybe the weather is playing a role in communication problems?

We have a tendecy to think that technology cures all but fundamentally, how watchable is a fishing contest to the average Joe? That’s who they’re after. As far as competitive edges – let the competitors view where each other is – so what? Let’s see how “sportsmanship” gets redefined – that might be kinda fun. Can you say WWF? That seems to be the mentality these days.

Curt, you are quite right. So when it comes to “sportsmanship,” boxing is the only sport that has it right. They say: “Protect yourself at all times.”

They took the map down. It’s not even on there now. Just the up to the minute (5 minutes) standings, which is fine with me. I like knowing who’s moving up or down the leader board, even if it is just estimated and isn’t “official”.

Probably halted for weigh-in and don’t want family members and friends passing info.

Well, the map worked good this morning but for me it’s not really useful since I don’t know what the lake looks like anyway, so why would I even care where on the lake my favorites were fishing? The important thing to me is the updated leader board.

Think this is meant to be good intentioned but if the day 1 leaders have day 1 chasers on their spots tomorrow morning there will be second guessing as to whether someone following the BassTrakk gave away spot information. Better not to give anyone any opportunity like this.

I’m with you on this, Jeff. When you ask for trouble, it usually obliges. However, B.A.S.S. did finally say contestants would not be able to access it while on the water…

But one more thing. Does anyone else get tired of this hold back the leaders for false drama effect. Are we so naive after watching the ongoing reports during the day that we don’t know who the contenders are? Can you spell
C-H-E-E-S-E-Y? 🙁

I checked in to see where the leaders were fishing throughout the day as I’m sure friends and family of those fishing did. Think the weight tracking was an awesome tool to share for those of us interested but they should save the spot information for the last day and then for the taped tv shows.

If you want the sport to be a big time sport it can’t remain completely pure. The NBA is usually played with portable baskets and floors in giant arenas where depth perception is lost. When the opposing player shoots a freethrow fans wave pennants to try and make him miss. NFL football is played indoors on turf with TV timeouts that hurt the flow of the game. The crowd gets crazy in a close game to mess up the visitors offense. In baseball they juice the ball, move fences in and out and fans will do the wave, which must distract the opponent. Imagine if they let fans do this stuff in bass fishing. It’s about the fans and coverage, and sponsors, when the goal is generate as much money as possible.

It’s pretty hard to have fans follow a sport in real time if you don’t even know where anyone is fishing. And I think the analogy to defense is weak. In most sports when you are getting beat the coaches call a timeout and explain what the other guy is doing to beat you. You then adjust based on what he is doing to beat you. If you have no clue what the other guy is doing there is really is no real competition going on or anyone reacting to what is happening, because you simply do not know.

If you want real sport and competition in bass fishing at the biggest event the sport has, I think you want it completely wide open so everyone knows what everyone else is doing and in real time. You can then play offense or defense, whether you are ahead or behind, and I it brings a lot more strategy into the competition.

Co-anglers, two pros in the same boat, and technology are changes that top anglers have successfully adapted to. But I don’t think I would enjoy or learn from watching a pro playing defence instead of an angler’s best attempt to solve the fishing puzzle.

Good points, John. (Though B.A.S.S. ultimately disagreed with you this year.) However, as a competition couldn’t you say the same about golf? You know where and what your competitors are doing–but you can’t defend your position. I know plenty of coaches who say golf, cross country, track & field, extreme sports, and most fishing tournaments are not sport because there is no defense. Fishing doesn’t quite “fit” the mold of traditional sports–but it’s always worth the debate.

Now what if Las Vegas had a line on the Classic? 😉

Well, the BassTrak map is back!

In golf, track etc. you do know what your competitor is doing and you can try to be more aggressive if you are behind, or play it safe if you are ahead. That’s sort of the problem with most bass fishing tournaments. Nobody ever knows where he stands, so it’s more like poker. It’s still good, but it could be better with modern technology.

If you did know what the guys around you were doing you could fish aggressively or defensively depending on the circumstances, just as is done in other sports. In golf when a guy is a stroke or two back and running out of holes he needs to pull out the driver, fairway wood or make a putt..If he didn’t have a clue as to where he stood it would be a lot less of a sport and the same with track, bowling or other activities thar people say are not a sport. Whether they are a real sport doesn’t really matter, but I think the more you can get people to compete head-to-head the better it is as a competition.

You’ve thought this out, John. But you cannot equate passivity or playing it safe (your track/golf allusion) to defense in the parlance of real sport. Otherwise, I really don’t disagree with your approach. Having been “in the boat” with contenders in eight different Classics, I’m biased. The contest result was never as important to me as observing “my partner” tackle the water and conditions. In the end I always wanted to learn something I could pass on to those who couldn’t be in the boat with the pro. You’re dead on regarding the technology. Now I don’t have to follow the contest–the results will be up almost instantaneously.

Tournament anglers have the ability to know where they stand in the tournament AFTER the first day of weigh-in. Making a decision to fish aggressively or conservatively is a consideration that tournament anglers can make AFTER their first day on the water.

The Bass Track system takes all of the pre-fishing preparation out of the sport and allows anglers who didn’t choose to fish productive water to piggy back off the anglers who have identified productive areas. Understanding how to dissect water is a skill that differentiates average anglers from the great ones. Understanding how to find productive water is a key reason why anglers like Kevin Van Dam and Aaron Martens are always in the top 10. Great anglers have the ability to always be on fish. In my opinion taking this advantage away from the sport is a mistake.

I see other people comparing bass fishing to other sports like Football and Basketball and i think its amusing. Spend one day in a bass tournament and you will realize that football and basketball are not similar at all. But for the sake of the discussion, do you think Phil Jackson would give his playbook to the opposing coach? In a seven game series the other team would have to figure out what the winning team was doing, not be given the answer. What area an angler fishes during a tournament is STRATEGIC and should be figured out by competitors on their own. Multi day fishing tournaments give anglers the ability to adjust to their competitors as needed.

During tournaments anglers have a fair chance to adjust just from causual “dock talk”. As a tournament angler, when we are done fishing for the day we talk patterns and briefly explain what type of water we ran that day. We don’t use specifics, but if i told you i was deep cranking secondary points on the north end of the lake it pretty much gives you an idea of where my water is. So, if you want to fish it, run up north and try to find it. Its disheartening to think that you could be competing in a tournament of that magnitude, find a honey hole and your competitor can log onto and find your exact spot without doing the work.

Get serious about bass fishing and learn how to find your own water. Just my opinion.

Oh yea, and for all of you out there that try to compare bass fishing to traditional team sports please stop. Its man verse nature in bass fishing. Nothing is guaranteed and once you launch, your on your own. No coach, no water breaks, just you and your analysis of the current conditions against competitors and the fish. There is nothing like it.

Keep on Bassin!

Nothing QUITE like it–for sure, Mr. AC. 🙂

I think if you want to make the most money on televised events you have to do the things that bring in the most viewers and money. If your goal is to simply create the best team in a sport all the best players would go on one team. In golf we would just hand the title to Tiger for the last ten years, but instead they changed the course layouts to take away his advantage. In baseball they juiced the ball. In football they are making it all offense with the rules and protecting QB’s at all cost. Etc.

Increased competition and doing things that will inform the viewer and competitors will benefit the sport as far as television and money. It’s not really fair when you compete against KVD and his resources going into an event either, so really all you are doing is leveling the playing field, just as has been done in most every other televised sport.

After using the BassTrak for keeping up with the standings, I can say from a spectator point of view, that I liked being able to see what position my favorites were in as they moved up and down the leader board. However, it did take the surprise, and anticipation out of watching the weigh in as I already had a good idea of where they would finish each day.