COLUMN: What can you do for me?

It’s always been a part of human DNA to be a little selfish. While we try not to be, it’s human nature to want more than the next person. All of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’s and I don’t mean the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. The Lord tells us in James 3:16, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As humans, we try to obey God’s command, but the sinful side seems to prevail more often than we would like to admit.  

 Today’s professional anglers have a tough time trying to avoid being selfish with so many anglers seeking sponsorship from specific companies. There’s only so much money companies are willing to part with to sponsor an angler, and the pool is shrinking. 

Twenty years ago, anglers could go out on tournament day, catch a good five fish limit and cash a big check in order to draw the attention of sponsors. But times have changed. Fast forward to 2023 and that’s no longer good enough. Anglers now must have a personality and the ability to talk to people. They need good communication skills and must have a big social media presence. 

 Sponsors today want anglers who can sell a product and can represent their sponsors in a good way. Catching fish on tournament day is secondary. When anglers approach sponsors today, it’s not about how good an angler you are or how many tournaments you’ve won. Sponsors want to know what you as an angler can do for them and how much product you can sell. It’s all about what the business world calls ROI (return on investment). 

 These companies can be very demanding of an angler’s time by using them for promotional events like boat shows and speaking engagements. Catching fish today is not high on a sponsors list of what’s important to the sponsorship agreement. These anglers today are paid and, in some cases, paid extremely well to represent certain companies. But these demands can put a strain on an angler’s ability to compete consistently and can hinder his or her ability to prepare for an event. So, there must be a happy balance for both the angler and the sponsor. 

 During my time going around and speaking to high school fishing teams, the first question asked almost every single time is, “How do I get sponsors?” My response is always the same. First, don’t worry about sponsors. Learn how to find fish and develop your fishing skills so you can be competitive. Next, take speech in high school and college. Anglers today must have the ability to talk to people, make a good impression and sell a product. Then make sure you have a strong social media presence with a lot of followers. If you can do these things really well, sponsors will come to you. 

Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen! Melanoma does not discriminate!