Proz’s Bracket “busting”: What’s the big deal?

Proz and Kreiger at Classic Bracket
Jacob Powroznik lends Koby Kreiger a helping hand at the recent Classic Bracket event on the Niagara River. Bassmaster photo by Thomas Allen.

About this Bassmaster photo from the Niagara River Classic Bracket

I’m seeing and hearing lots of debate about whether Jacob Powroznik was in the wrong for taking a fall so Koby Kreiger (Proz’s roommate and good friend) could advance to the second round of head-to-head competition for a 2017 Classic berth.

I’m with Proz.

Those of you suffering from an advanced case of “righteous”, how about you chill out? Banning Proz from the sport for life because he chose to stop competing that afternoon? Really?!? Just, stop.

These comparisons to the NBA and NFL are ludicrous for so many reasons, the most obvious being that n-o-n-e of these anglers – not Proz, not Koby, not KVD, not Ike, none of ’em – are salaried athletes. They’re responsible for just short of $50,000 in entry fees for the 2016 Elite Series season, and their “salaries” are whatever they can hustle up from sponsors.

It’s not the PGA Tour (“entry fee” for a Tour event is a $50 locker fee).

It’s not the World Tennis Association (no entry fee for Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, etc.)

It’s a pay-to-play competition. Proz, Kreiger, Iaconelli, VanDam, etc., all of them write out the checks to cover their entry fees, and foot the bills for travel and expenses so they can compete. As long as Proz’s “bosses” (the sponsors who help him defray those costs, not B.A.S.S.) are good with him choosing friendship over competition (and they are, I’ve spoken with them, see below), then I’m good with it and so should you be.

“Since the day I met Jacob he was in the category of  ‘who would you take to war with you?’ A real friend.”
-Basil Battah, Livingston Lures

It was good enough for Larry …

If you insist on comparing the Bracket event to a professional sport, go ahead, but let’s compare apples to apples. I’d say it was most similar to the MLB All-Star Game, wouldn’t you? Not part of the regular-season schedule; simply a single-“game” event that has no bearing on the standings or the rest of the 2016 schedule.

That being the case, does anybody remember the 1997 All-Star Game? Larry Walker vs. Randy Johnson? Ring a bell?

Walker came to bat as a lefty, jumped over to the right-hand batter’s box for one pitch (flipping his batting helmet backwards while he did it, albeit to cover his ear), and then finished the at-bat as a lefty. I don’t believe Walker swung at a single pitch that at-bat.

“Laid down his rod” so to speak.

If you need to be righteous about the “sanctity of the competition,” then I guess Walker made a mockery of that game, too. And he was actually paid to compete in it: first-class airfare for three ($6,000); first-class hotel ($2,000); meal and tip allowance ($1,000); stipend ($1,000); merchandise and gifts ($5,000).

Proz? He got to pay $1,500 in travel expenses for a tournament he didn’t need to fish. If his friendship with Kreiger means more to him than advancing to Round 2 in that event, then more power to him.

And that’s my 2 cents.

-Joel Shangle