Previously, I had submitted a possible rough framework for decreasing the size of the Elite Series field. I like that B.A.S.S. supports a "major league" of tournament bass fishing but I feel as though it also needs to keep in mind, to a much higher degree, the typical B.A.S.S. member who supports the organization as a whole, much as Harold eluded to.
The reality is that most B.A.S.S. members in this neck of the woods do not know who the pros are. In most cases, they've never heard of most professional bass fishermen. With the exception of KVD, Ike or possibly Tommy Biffle, most any other bass pro is an unknown to almost all other B.A.S.S. members.
Most B.A.S.S. members that I know don't care who the pros are, they have no intention of ever trying to be a pro themselves, and they could care less if the Elite tour is 50 guys or 1,000 guys. All these typical B.A.S.S. members are interested in is bass fishing as a local sport and cherished pastime. The typical B.A.S.S. member enjoys time on the water, he enjoys catching bass, he wants to know how to catch bass better, he wants to see what new equipment is out there to help him catch bass, and he may or may not want to participate in local tournaments on occasion. In my opinion, this typical angler makes up most of the B.A.S.S. membership.
I think it would help the leadership of B.A.S.S. to step back and just think about what makes up B.A.S.S. as a whole. The way I see it, leadership is placing 99% of their effort into less than 1% of the membership (pros). B.A.S.S. is not like NASCAR, or the PGA, or the NBA, or the NFL, or some other organization like that. It's the only one with 99% membership as sport-enjoying amateurs and less than 1% trying to make a living at it.
ESPN never understood this. ESPN only saw 100 guys. ESPN never saw the rest of the membership. I thought Jerry, before he bought B.A.S.S., saw the big picture, but now, given his comments in his recent interviews, I'm not so sure. I like Jerry, I liked the Fish'n Hole, and I think he's a good guy, but he sounds a lot like ESPN when he talks about B.A.S.S.
In my opinion, if you concentrate your efforts on growing the base, the top will take care of itself. Focus on bringing new folks to bass fishing, focus on the youth, focus on conserving our resources (conserving the fish and the environment in which they live), focus on family participation in bass fishing, and focus on getting more beginners to join B.A.S.S. to learn how to be better and learn to enjoy the sport more. This is where the focus needs to be. The grassroots angler, who spends his time and hard-earned money on the pastime he loves, is where the support will come from to make a pro tour viable.