February 22, 2009
Today is the final day of the prestigious Bassmaster Classic and the competition is different from any other that has come along since its beginning in 1971.
For the first time in Bassmaster Classic history, a female is competing against the guys.
Kim Bain-Moore, of Alabaster, Ala., is competing against 50 other qualifiers, all men.
This is not new to sports. I know of one other sport where a female qualified to compete against an all-male field. Annika Sorenstam, a female golf pro, competed in the 2003 Colonial as the solo female against all others.
I remember all points of view being voiced, some positive, but mostly negative about a female competing against the guys.
There were comments like, "They have their own tour," and "She can''t possibly think she can win."
Sorenstam didn''t win, but she did compete.
I have heard a few different comments on Bain-Moore competing in the Bassmaster Classic. One angler, not knowing all the details, said a female angler shouldn''t have taken one of the guys'' slots in the Classic. That is not even close to the truth.
This year, the Classic has 51 qualifiers, not 50. Bain-Moore qualified as being the 2008 WBT Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year.
I think it is good Bain-Moore is competing in the Classic. Besides, she earned the chance.
She reportedly left Australia nine years ago to come to America and fish. This past year she went through the complete WBT season, finishing no lower than sixth place in each event. I don''t believe there is a male qualifier that can say that.
This year''s Classic is on the Red River in Bossier City, La. The winner gets the famous Bassmaster Classic trophy and a $500,000.00 check. The second-place finisher gets a $45,000.00 check.
It will be a terrible thing to lose $455,000 for a couple of ounces, but it has been done before.
ESPN2 is broadcasting the event and the final weigh-in is scheduled for 9 p.m.
My partner and I had a good conversation about the Bassmaster Classic versus the FLW Tour Championship. The FLW Championship gives a check of a million dollars and a trophy whereas the check is half of that for the Classic.
But in my opinion, there is no other trophy like the Classic trophy.
As my partner, Ken Lowry, questioned, "How many FLW champions can you name and then how many Bassmaster Classic champions can you name?" I could only recount two FLW winners, but I could go on and on with Classic winners.
This is not taking anything away from FLW; I am a proud supporter of this organization. The whole point I am trying to make is the Bassmaster Classic has been the grass-roots and grand daddy of them all since the 1970s.
The guys that made it to the Classic in previous decades weren''t graced with the paychecks the anglers are getting these days, much like the rest of the sports today.
I got to see the Classic with my own eyes before and I personally saw the trophy shining and reflecting in the arena lights. There was the roar of the crowd and electricity in the air, and you begin to dream just like a kid again...
Kevin Forrester is the outdoor writer of The Commercial Dispatch. He can be contacted att firstname.lastname@example.org