RE: Classic exemptions – As much as we like our friend Kevin VanDam, he fell short this year. The streak ends and Rick Clunn will continue to hold that record for our lifetime, it seems.
Still, the poll question was should there be exemptions. I say yes in some cases, just not this one.
In the case of a catastrophic incident that required your attention, it should be considered. Especially if that incident was through no fault of your own and all efforts were made to compete. Even more so if it were a family emergency.
There are limited incidents. One I can remember way back in the original B.A.S.S. Invitationals, from the late 1980s or earliest 1990ss, when a friend of mine missed the last of six events due to the unexpected passing of his father-in-law the evening prior to competition. He, I believe from memory, finished one place out of that year's Classic. There are and will be others where the angler has proven the focus and tenacity during that given season.
I do believe there has to be some reasonable effect on others also considered. In the mentioned case only adding one position would have been required. The only effect would have been his impact on other placements at that event.
Still, in a one-person sport that climaxes a season finale, where no one can drop in and substitute for you, there may be valid reason for an exemption. We just have not realized it prior and years ago we were more able to accept hard lines. Today's politically correct world is more open to doing the right thing when instances necessitate such actions.
The challenge is entrusting certain parties to act with no favoritism or malice in orchestrating these decisions and judgements. Acting as "stewards" of our sport by for- profit entities is a hard aspect of trust when lobbying, sponsorships and long-term anglers may be able to construe that stewardship, which is entrusted them through the mere position or title they have been granted by corporate leaders.
It's a fine line.