Okay, been chewing on this for a bit, as you know asked for any stories folks were willing to share, heard from some pros, bounced some ideas off peeps. After all that I have a proposed solution for the leagues to any/all cheating – which some say is ultra bad right now. But before I get to that, some disclaimers:
1. I've heard some incredible things – stuff I wouldn't ever think of, let alone do or risk in a million years just to win a fishing tournament. Crazy that I haven't even heard everything.
2. Some is just a newer/higher-tech version of what's been going on forever (ie, getting info).
3. I've heard about high-school fishing stuff, kayak stuff, triple A-level stuff, pro stuff – it's all over the place.
4. A lot of of the worst stuff I've heard is unverifiable in my 2c. Not saying it's not happening or didn't happen, just don't think anyone could actually prove it outside of a polygraph – and even then maybe not – or some sort of digital proof (video, text, etc).
5. What I'm proposing might not stop everything. And it's not rocket science – if you want that, talk to the folks who make forward-facing sonar...😁
6. If anyone already said all this somewhere else, great. I intentionally have not listened to anything related to this so I could get my mind around it for myself.
7. I'm not saying this is "right" or "the best." Shoot, I might have swung and missed. It's just what this one guy came up with right now, outta love for the sport – as a bud said, love for the "purity" of bass fishing. I'm hoping to encourage conversation, and action if needed.
All that said here's a proposed solution – for the leagues (B.A.S.S. and MLF) – to any and all rule violations in tournaments. Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on this.
1. All phones in the boat turned OFF at all times.
Exceptions: If there's an emergency or a potential emergency (like a child being born). If known in advance, talk to the TD about it before launch. If a phone has to be turned on, call the TD first if possible.
Used to be that phones had to be off in boats, but at some point that was changed – which puzzled the heck outta me. Does having a phone on in the boat encourage cheating? You bet it does.
Quick story: I was explaining to my "kids" some of the stuff I'd been told about cheating, and my 19-yr-old daughter's first comment was, "They're allowed to have their phones on in the boat? That's like having your phone out for a test." Yep, it's pretty self-evident to me too.
Social media and wives can wait man til later man....
1a) Also, sonar wifi must be OFF.
2. Thoroughly polygraph every winner, runner-up, random competitors and anyone protested/suspected.
Apparently "thoroughly" is key for polys.
I've talked to folks who won major tourneys and weren't poly'd. A poly should be a normal part of winning anything big.
Maybe need some sort of "verification" if guys are adamant they didn't do anything wrong?
3. Consequences for all poly fails according to a pre-published "schedule."
Haven't spent the time to think about what makes sense but something like:
- Rule violation tiers: For example, running a no-wake zone should not be as big a deal as getting waypoints – aka, every rule violation should not be/be seen as "the death penalty" (thanks for that phrase George!).
- Also base punishments on numbers of violations: 1st-time level 1 offender gets X (day's weight DQd, or keep the weight but a late start, or a fine, etc), 2nd time level 1 offender gets Y, 1st time level 2 offender gets Z, etc.
Along with that have a formula that results in blatant rule disregarders getting banned – for a season, maybe for multiple seasons, for life.
4. Publicly publish all poly fails and consequences...
...with a disclaimer that polys are not 100% accurate. But it seems to be the best tool we have.
Do I have to say this: If rule violations aren't tested for/found, aren't punished and aren't made public, why have rules? Just so the suckers follow 'em?? Basically, that's actually an incentive TO cheat – because there are no consequences!
5. Give everyone fair warning
Not the Van Halen album (lol my favorite one!) but something like: B.A.S.S. and MLF tell all competitors that as of 2024, all of the above will be in place.
So anyone not competing on the up and up can decide to change their ways or maybe just not pay their deposits.
If rule violations happen, could it give our beloved sport a black eye? Yep – temporarily. The folks I talked to would rather suffer through a black eye than forever be suspicious about or deal with unfair competition. I agree with them.
One final thought: What if the leagues DON'T do something like this? What could that say about them and our sport?
Love to hear your thoughts....
2 more ideas I didn't include
- Every competitor has to have this pic or another pic of a TD taped on the console: