- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Look, since I’m well over 50, I don’t have a thing against certain products that promise to make me youthful, but has anybody thought about what the recent announcement of Cialis sponsoring bass tournaments will do to the sport?

It will only enhance the erroneous view some youngsters have about us older fishermen: that we’re a bunch of Methuselahs who need help not only with our reflexes when it comes to setting a hook but also in matters concerning the boudoir. I can hear the jokes already.

Yet here we have the international Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) and its 700,000 worldwide members welcoming a one-year sponsorship agreement with a male dysfunction drug, the aforementioned Cialis (tadalafil).

What worries me is that BASS said, “As a premiere sponsor, Cialis will have a major interactive presence at the majority of BASS events.”

Come again? How does it intend to become interactive? The possibilities boggle the mind.

While I’m wondering, I might as well wonder whether a bass tournament participant will be drummed out of the society of cast-for-cash anglers when it becomes known that he partakes of the competition, Viagra or Levitra. I’m continuing my efforts to get a comment on that one from BASS.

Cialis’ parent company, Lilly ICOS, said, “The agreement also includes presenting sponsorship of Bassmaster University and a heavy presence in BASS’s television, print and Internet platforms. To support the sponsorship, Cialis will create special Relaxation and Fan Experience tents in key markets, develop angler tips with expert partners and establish a dedicated Web site. To enhance the Bassmaster University TV show on ESPN2, Cialis will sponsor a ‘gear list’ as part of the weekly programming, which will highlight fishing equipment needed for each episode.”

Can my mind become even more boggled than it already is? What will happen in the “Relaxation and Fan Experience” tent? What kind of “relaxation” and “fan experience” are you talking about, Cialis?

Hey, this could be just the thing to bring a little pizzazz back into the BASS organization.

Ever since ESPN bought the company from the corporate descendants of BASS founder Ray Scott, then moved the whole shebang from Alabama to Florida, more than one BASS member has noticed that the tournament fishing and publication empire created by Scott simply isn’t what it used to be.

It has become kind of Madison Avenue slick, which to the grassroots American bass hounds means BASS is moribund, if you know what I’m saying. Gone are the good ol’ boy feelings one used to get when Scott, a modern day P.T. Barnum if ever there was one, ran the show. (Scott, incidentally, is approaching the age when he might want to work closely with the Cialis company.)

Already there’s clamoring from the hinterlands to bring Scott back. It was he, after all, who could get an audience rocking and rolling — something that has been sadly lacking whenever BASS conducts its current editions of the big kahuna of tournaments, the Bassmasters Classic, a kind of bass fishing world championship.

Guy E. Clarke, a 34-year-old bass angler from Circleville, N.Y., and a dues-paying member of the Orange County Bassmasters in Middletown, N.Y., is engaged in a nationwide campaign entitled “Bring Ray Back.” Clarke has a Web site, BringRayBack.com, and he speaks for many when he says there has never been anybody better at spreading the gospel of BASS than Ray.

In recent years, various emcees at world championship bass weigh-ins, held inside large auditoriums (last year’s was in Charlotte, N.C.) proved lukewarm performers. Attendants at these affairs have said the Bassmasters Classic is nowhere near as exciting as it was when Scott handled the microphone. Talk about being interactive. The BASS founder could have a civic center crowd of 20,000 scream with delight, hoot and holler, and just generally have a big old time with his homespun Southern humor and delightful interviews with some of the professional bass fishing contenders.

Hello! Is anybody listening at BASS?

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in TheWashington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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