New Logo, New Attitude, Same Great Tournament
Open Letter From Cody Prather
by Cody Prather
The Tournament of Champions is built on the shoulders of great leaders in our industry who are striving to create one of the biggest, most prestigious bass tournaments in the country. When it was passed to Beau Reed, the tournament jumped to another level and reached the status that it was meant to be. Now the reins have been passed on to me.
I have a different attitude towards the Tournament of Champions. Maybe it’s a small bit of nostalgia that creeps in from knowing how hard everyone has worked over the past years to make this tournament and this sport great. I feel that the Tournament of Champions is bigger than me. Not that I can’t handle the magnitude
of the event, but that this tournament represents the hard work and efforts of tournament organizers in every part of the country. This isn’t about me, or how big I can make this tournament, or anything that has “I” in it. This is about the combined efforts of all of us striving to grow this sport, introduce new anglers, and push new levels of competition.
I view this tournament as more of a reward to anglers who have the passion and desire to compete in trails and large events, and excel. To me, the Yak4it TOC supports tournaments and anglers, not necessarily the other way around. We are working together to build this sport to new heights. I don't feel that the Yak4it TOC is in competition with any other tournament or organization, and I never want it to come across that way.
With regard to this sentiment, there will no longer be a push to make trails/clubs/events be “Sanctioned Qualifiers.”
How this will work:
Instead of "Sanctioned Qualifier," trails/clubs/events can become Yak4it TOC "Promotional Partners." This means that we work together to promote each other’s events. Send me results, videos, pictures and Yak4it/TOC will use it to promote your events. As a promotional partner, tournament directors can distribute allocated invites as they choose, as long as the angler earns the invitation. If someone cannot attend the TOC, pass down the invitation to the next angler in line so that your trail/club/event has solid representation. At the TOC, we will shoot videos, create email blasts, and other things to help you promote your trail/club/event. I will work with you to help create resources. Everything that is already in place, stays in place. "Promotional Partner" puts the pressure on Yak4it/TOC to work for you, but I can only do the work if you provide the information for me to build/share materials. That's why it's a partnership.
To be clear, anglers fishing trails/clubs/events that are NOT promotional partners WILL still have the opportunity to receive an invitation to the main event. The guidelines I will use for NON-promotional partners is the angler must finish in the Top 5 in AOY Standings of a specific trail/club/series, Top 1-3 of a major event depending on entries, and no passing the invitation down to the next angler. Exceptions to this may arise, and ultimately, invitations will be sent out at the sole discretion of the Yak4it TOC. These are guidelines, not rules. Anglers in this situation need to reach out to me.
What this does:
This allows Yak4it TOC to include top anglers from trails/clubs/events not wishing to promote TOC. Business is business and there are many reasons that trails/clubs/events may not be comfortable promoting the TOC. That is perfectly acceptable. This allows an easy way out for them while still rewarding the angler. Yak4it TOC will support the efforts and honor the commitment that these tournament organizers have put in place to help build this sport. Like I said, this tournament and sport is much bigger than me.
Feedback is always appreciated, and I hope that this new attitude is successful this year. New ways to allocate invitations are already being tested. The hope is to have new guidelines going into 2017 that clarifies the invitation process and creates a level playing field across the country. I ask for your patience, support, and feedback as new ideas are tested to help grow the Yak4it TOC into a coveted event each and every year. There will be bumps along the way, and I hope we can ride through them together.