It's finally over. The 39th running of the Bassmaster Classic is history and not a minute too soon for some.
What an absolute blast of a week it was. Good times. It was also a lot like Hell Week in college; just how much can you pack in to 5-6 days? Just how late can you stay up at night and how early can you get up the next morning?
Shreveport/ Bossier City rolled out the red carpet for BASS fans and did a good job of making us feel welcome.
With the CenturyTel Center, the Convention Center, all the hotels, and the recent addition of the nearby Red River South Marina, they've obviously been working for several years on getting events of the magnitude of the Classic to town.
Even with the Classic weigh-in and the Expo being several miles apart, it didn't seem to hurt attendance at either one.
The last two days of the weigh-in were packed house affairs, with people left standing outside. I'm not sure how the fire marshal kept from locking down the Expo also, as it was shoulder to shoulder for several of the busiest hours each day.
Unbelievable. I'm not sure I've seen that many people in such a short period of time under one roof. Ever.
Like it is, a spade is a spade, and I'm not real good at kissing anyone's ass; the coverage of the Classic by ESPN and all its associated appendages was unprecedented.
Nowhere will you find the volume and depth of coverage for a bass fishing tournament that is viewed by as many people and available in such a short span of time. Nowhere.
Don't believe me? Wait a few weeks, not a couple of hours, to see the television coverage of any other bass derby. Wait a few hours, instead of minutes, to view the leaderboard, or the photos, or read the inside scoop.
Was the coverage perfect? No. It is what it is, which is pretty good in a lot of ways. It was bigger and better than last years. The fans obviously thought it was pretty good, as twice as many clicked on the pages of Bassmaster.com and espnoutdoors.com compared to the 38th Classic, which had twice the traffic of the 37th Classic.
The biggest negative that I saw and heard about this year was the fact that live video of the weigh-ins is only available through ESPN360. I understand that some fans don't get 360 through their ISP.
Is that ESPNs' fault for the change or your ISP's fault for not carrying it? Don't know, but I figure that ESPN pushes their other sports event across 360, why not add bass fishing? A logical but not necessarily popular change.
I do get 360, but if I didn't, I'd be pretty upset too and I'd let my ISP know about it. If I had the option, I might even change to get it.
The number of fans who clicked around on the web was off the chart; way off. Within hours, if not minutes of Skeet's win, fans around the world knew it. They saw the photos, read the stories, watched the videos, and saw Zona and Tommy on ESPN2 complete with Skeet catching the winning fish.
The Classic blogy was one of the most viewed pages throughout the course of the event and it garnered over 1,900 comments.
While it turned into a chat room at times, there was a slate for fans to converse both directly with the editors of ESPNOutdoors.com and with each other. And converse they did, in a big way.
The Expo was an amazing mass of bass fishing humanity. Most vendors were thrilled with both the attendance and the purchasing of the attendees. Rods and stuffed bags were everywhere up and down the aisles. Long lines for autographs by legends like Bill Dance, Hank Parker, and on Sunday, KVD, were common.
On Sunday evening, many vendors were packing up and hauling out far less than they had hauled in on Thursday morning. That's a good thing.
Other than the 5:30 a.m. wakeups and the 11:30 p.m. pillow crashes for three straight days, other than standing on the carpet for 10 hours a day, other than talking 'til I was hoarse to a bazillion people, other than shaking a million hands, and other than signing I-have-no-idea how many autographs on everything from underwear to body parts to lampshades, it was a good event.
No, it was a great event. It was great to see all the fans. Great to talk to and see so many people who are avid about bass fishing. Great to see people from Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, and numerous other places across the country. Great to see all the kids that were excited to be there.
It was also grueling both physically and mentally on the Expo carpet. It was tough to watch the action from the water and not think about the missed opportunities during the 2008 Elite season that kept me from being one of the 51. Tough to stand around on the carpet and talk about how the guys were catching them, the areas they were in, the baits they were using.
Even though I had a great time on the Expo carpet, I really don't want to have that experience again, so I clipped a little souvenir. Have it taped up on the inside of the windshield of my BassCat so that I have to look at it every morning this season to make sure that I go out every day and work my butt off to ensure that I don't have carpet burns in Birmingham.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.