Recently Elite Series angler and reigning Federation Nation champ Brandon Palaniuk announced that he would not be defending his title in the upcoming Federation championship. Here are some reasons he cited:
“I already have a Classic berth, I already qualified for the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series. The only other reason to fish it would be for the money, but the Federation’s not about making money,”…
“It’s always been about things like getting youth into the sport, conservation and trying to qualify for the Elites.”
FishStrong is all about good will and philanthropy, but what about the sheer drive to compete? If sitting out the tournament is really about “youth” and “conservation”, why not fish the tournament to represent the youth? At 23 years old, Palaniuk arguably qualifies for “youth” himself. I’ve never met Brandon, but I think he’s a stand-up guy based on what I’ve seen and I believe he makes a great role model for teens. He might be able to do more for the sport by fishing the Championship. Here’s how…
The winner of the Championship gets a fully rigged bass boat. So, if Brandon did indeed win, he could give the boat away to a young, aspiring bass pro who may not even have a boat. What are the chances any other winner would do that? Pretty low. Maybe he could hold a contest designed to bring attention and funds to a local Federation chapter and use the boat as a prize. He could auction the boat off and give the proceeds to a charity or conservation organization. There are dozens of possibilities along these lines. My point is that he can still satisfy his mission and the mission of the Federation Nation by fishing. If he doesn’t win, well… he’s got nothing to worry about.
I really don’t know how he can go down there and sit on the sidelines like that. You’d have to chain me to the docks if it were me. Fishing is not an option for me. Brandon apparently has more self control over the addiction of fishing than I.
Though choosing not to fish sounds honorable at first, I can’t help but question the reasons. Is he afraid to lose? Probably not, but it sounds like he’s afraid to win. Not fishing the tournament might even come across as displaying a modicum of arrogance… as if a decision in favor of fishing would almost assuredly result in a Palaniuk victory, so he’ll exercise mercy and spare the field by bowing out.
Here’s the thing… I don’t think he’s arrogant at all. I think he’s a super cool dude with a big heart. I’m just playing devil’s advocate.
Here’s another thought… If I were a Federation Nation member, I would want to fish against the defending champ. He’s depriving his would-be competitors of the gratification they would otherwise get by should they defeat the reigning champ.
Does he think that he’ll come out more of a winner by choosing what is intended to be the high road? I say fish the tournament you earned a berth in and may the best man win. If it’s about not depriving your fellow Federation angler from a Classic berth, just let one of your fish go if you think you’re a threat to win on the last day. You can take 2nd place and give that money away too if it’s “not about the money”.
I’m not saying I’m right or he’s wrong, but personally, my competitive streak is too strong to turn down a perfectly good opportunity to compete. I crave it. Does that make me heartless? If I were Brandon, I would gladly go toe to toe with the Federation field and do my best to hide my exuberance if I beat them. No mercy. I can’t help it.
So, is Brandon Palaniuk a fisherman or some kind of philanthropist? I think he can be both and do it while competing. Fishermen fish, but they can also be generous and help out worthy causes. Brandon, fish the tournament… for the sake of charity, youth, conservation, etc… Fish the tournament! We like watching you compete!
If you were in Brandon’s shoes, what would you do? Is not fishing the Federation Championship really the best way to promote the sport? Feel free to comment below.