On November 1, BASS announced a $5 per member increase in fees. In response and acting as representatives of the Federation membership, some 50,000 strong, the representatives stated that they wouldn't be sending any membership dues to BASS at all and instead would be sending it to the state Federations.
BASS made a strong point to say that the representatives issued a directive independent of the membership. How they came to this conclusion I don't know but rest assured that, in California, the Executive Board of the State Federation knew full well what might transpire and were solidly behind our president's actions.
What I find to be most interesting about the BASS letter to its membership is that they are really trying to make these guys out to be bad people who acted irresponsibly and almost made it out to be an act of treason. They insist that the fee increase was "necessary and warranted".
To my understanding all these six gentlemen wanted was an accounting for why BASS asked for an increase in fees. In an era where magazine subscriptions are dropping not rising it would seem to be a just question. When they didn't get that they decided that maybe sending any money to BASS was a bad idea.
I've been to enough club meetings in California to know that most clubs didn't want to spend ANY more dollars then they were already comitting to and some were really looking very closely at what they spend already with an eye for maybe pullingout of the federation entirely.
Many of the gentlemen that had their memberships revoked were long time VOLUNTEERS of this organization. I know that Gary Bradford spends a part of each and every day working on behalf of the State Federation. Also keep in mind that each state is a part of a larger organization called The Bass Federation, Inc. which functions independently from BASS, Inc.
By doing away with what Don Rucks termed as "the so-called six divisional representatives" and disbanding the Presidents Advisory committee, BASS has basically backhanded a great many people who labor over casting kids events, conservation efforts and numerous independent tournaments across the country. Basically the state federations had been spreading good will for BASS at every turn. It would seem to be pompous that Rucks doesn't realize that these gentlemen weren't "so-called" anything, they were the true representatives of their regions.
I'd also have to think that the BASS sponsors are quaking in their boots right now as the fall out from today's actions could send repercussions their way as well.
In a move to add some blessed authority to what would seem to be a poor business decision at best, BASS got founder Ray Scott to endorse today’s actions. In a quote from the BASS letter Ray Scott spoke of how he once had to handle a similar situation many years ago. "It was painful for a short while, but the BASS Federation overall was better off after the malcontents left. That's the way it will be after we regroup this time," said Scott.
Someone needs to break the news to Ray and Don that this isn't thirty years ago and back then there weren't alternative courses for a state Federation. Need we remind these two folks of the open letter written to the Federations by Irwin Jacobs, chairman of FLW Outdoors and owner of the world's largest boat manufacturer in Genmar Holdings, Inc., only a couple short years ago.
In 2003 Jacobs said, "We would welcome them like a family welcomes somebody home to their house, with our door wide open, if they wanted to become associated with us in any way, shape or form. I would be pleased to work something out to welcome the Federations into some relationship without even knowing what that is."
Let's see now... if I do my math correctly this means that a decision for a demand of $5 more a head could very well mean the loss of the $15 per member that they were guaranteed and the potential fallout of losing a lot of BASSMASTER subscriptions, at $20 a year per member, and all of the good will that Federation members do on behalf of BASS, Inc. What price do you put on voluntary good will these days... ah, yes... Priceless.
In itself that likely doesn't amount to much for the folks at ESPN/BASS. But what'll these folks tell their advertising base if the Federations and it's membership goes away?
As Don Rucks put it and I'd like to paraphrase and give and it right back to him, "Was is it all worth it over the price of a crank bait?"