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THE BASS MEN: SI TOUTS BASS FISHING AS THE NEXT NASCAR
Published August 20, 1998
"Despite a negligible live gate ... and zero live- television revenue," bass fishing "is attracting enough corporate sponsorship to make millionaires" out of a handful of anglers "and to provide a comfortable living to perhaps another 300 or 400 pros," according to Jack McCallum of SI, who examines the sport under the header, "Reeling In Dough: Thanks To Rival Tours And Big-Bucks Sponsorships, Bass- Fishing Pros Are Becoming Millionaires In A Sport That Could Turn Into The Next NASCAR." Pro Denny Brauer, for one, made $600,000-$800,000 in prize money and endorsements for the year, and will appear on a Wheaties box in October. He has 12 endorsement deals. McCallum writes that bass fishing is appealing because of "the cultlike devotion it inspires," and the sport "is getting bigger, in part because there are two rival tournament-sponsoring entities: B.A.S.S. (the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), which holds eight elite tournaments each year, and Operation Bass, which conducts seven," through the Wal-Mart FLW Tour. Wal-Mart is the FLW Tour's title sponsor and other "big-name" sponsors include Chevrolet, Coca-Cola and Wheaties. The two organizations "have a tenuous coexistencene," and neither side "has attempted to pressure anglers into signing exclusive contracts." But the "idea that there won't be a head-butting somewhere downriver is naive" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 8/24).