David Dudley, the top-ranked angler in the current BassFan World Rankings, has decided to weigh in on the recent furor stirred up by the addition of Keystone Light to FLW’s stable of sponsors for the 2013 season. He contacted BassFan today after reading the assortment of reader responses in today’s featured news story. Below are Dudley’s comments:
When topics like beer sponsors draw this much attention, I feel the need to express some thoughts on the deal that FLW has made. I have gone through and read a lot of the comments that are posted on BassFan today. Like any discussion, there will be people on both sides with some in the middle. Let's get my belief about alcohol out in the open. If I were to see any of my fans sitting down drinking a beer, I would sit down right beside them and talk fishing, raccoon hunting or deer hunting with them while drinking my soda!
I do not see drinking alcohol as a sin! I would not turn my nose up at you if I knew you were drinking a beer! I hope you would invite me over and buy me a soda! I DO think it is a sin to drink in excess! Let’s face it – alcohol is a mind-altering substance. Make no bones about it. If the government thinks it is important to control a substance, then it must be really important.
My personal choice for my life has been that I don't want to drink alcohol because of where it might lead. I know myself personally and know it would be difficult to control myself at times. So my conviction about it is strong because it is a mind-altering substance. To this day, I have never had one single drop of alcohol, grain of tobacco or a puff of a cigarette and I'm 37! I don't say that to brag or “Look at me, I'm perfect!" By no means am I perfect. But I say it to encourage you to stop if you have a personality like mine. If you are still thinking that drinking is wrong, what do you think about overeating as being a glutton? Overeating, I don't hear much preaching about that. And yet we will sit at a pig-trough buffet and eat till we bust, which is kind of like getting drunk. Our bodies are not designed to handle that much grease, sugar and preservatives, and yet we do it. Look, we could argue and bring up examples until we are blue in the face.
Let's jump to the choice FLW has made and where it might lead. My biggest concern is if they are going to use Keystone Light as a title for a tournament. For example, "Beaver Lake presented by Keystone Light." I won that event last year and I would throw a fit if I had to hold a trophy up while FLW is blasting "David Dudley: The winner of Beaver Lake presented by Keystone Light." With that being said, they are stamping my name in association with beer directly. That would be wrong, as would if they headlined their web page with Keystone Light with me below in the picture.
Another question is has FLW given thought to their age limit on starting tournaments, which as I understand is 16 years old? Now if I was a principal of a school and was looking at starting a program under the title of FLW, I would look at the sponsors of the organization. I would have to say, “No,” because of the age of the students that are in my care. So the question is, is FLW biting the off the hands of the future that feed its organization? Whether it be high school or college, they are all organizations that have under-aged students. We all know 21 is the limit. Remember, if the government thinks it’s important, it must be. Now parents of young, aspiring anglers will now be forced to make a decision.
In most people's eyes it is always about perception. There is a song that I will never forget the lyrics. It's called "Waiting on the World to Change" and the lyrics are, "When you trust your television what you get is what you got cause when you own the information you can bend it all you want." With me being involved with television and seeing how stories are told, I know that statement is so true. I think FLW will have to be very, very picky in how they advertise with this company utilizing their anglers.
Now, the best argument I have heard yet is a grocery store is an organization that sells beer, cigarettes and tobacco. Do you still go and buy milk, cookies and meat? If so, you still are supporting that grocery store. And if you go to a restaurant that has a bar or serves alcohol, do you still eat their food? The difference is the grocery store, nor the restaurant, will make us sign a contract that says they can use your name, picture, and reputation in any way they choose for advertising. When you fish FLW as a pro, you sign all of your rights away. I still support FLW just like I still buy groceries at the store. I am very proud to be associated with them. They have great-hearted leaders with a drive to always improve and I still believe it is the best training grounds for aspiring anglers.