By BassFan Staff

For years, FLW has prohibited alcohol and tobacco advertising of any sort. With the addition of beer manufacturer Keystone Light to its lineup of sponsors for 2013, the company has clearly shifted course on the issue.

The decision to accept advertising dollars from a beer company could be viewed by some as a way to offset the revenue lost from the National Guard dialing back its involvement with FLW compared to past years. Whatever the reason behind it, FLW’s decision has generated a significant response among BassFans.

A poll question posted on BassFan’s home page shortly after the announcement was made public last Thursday has elicited more than 1,200 votes. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 75 percent of voters were either supportive of the move or didn’t see it as a big deal as opposed to disliking the deal altogether. In addition to the votes cast, the announcement prompted dozens of responses from BassFans.

Ranging from fully supportive to steadfastly against it, fans and tournament competitors alike clearly feel passionate about this issue. Below are several letters submitted by BassFans in reaction to Keystone Light being brought on as a sponsor. All these letters, and many more, can be found in BassFan's Feedback section.

Ed Walker of Pinson, Ala., writes:Actually I think it is great that FLW is reaching out for that new sponsor dollar category, but Keystone Light? What about Budweiser, Red Bull, Jack Daniel's, Crown Royal? I am not a beer drinker, but of all the fishermen I have seen who do drink beer, I haven't seen many Keystone beer cans. Can you imagine the marketing spectacle with the Budweiser Clydesdales at a tournament weigh-in? Budweiser race cars, etc.? If you're going to dive off into that market, go big or go home!

Edmond Brown of Trion, Ga., writes:
Sad day for FLW Outdoors. Alcohol has destroyed thousands of lives and family. I could always brag that FLW was a family-oriented company that refused to promote tobacco and alcohol consumption. I know a lot of fishermen, both pro and amateur, who fished FLW for the same reason.

Dennis Pentecost of Milford, Ill., writes:
Take the money when and where you can get it. You can choose if you want to drink or not. It's not that big of an issue.

Cliff “JR” Mundinger of Tallahassee, Fla., writes:
It's legal and absolutely nothing wrong with drinking a beer as long as you're of age. Personally, I have been fishing competitively for over 30 years, been a full-time guide for 13 years and do not believe it has any place on a boat during competition or when you are driving a boat, just like a car. I enjoy an ice-cold Miller Lite when I get done after a hard day on the water.

Al Perry of LaFayette, La., writes:
I don't have a problem with if they don't force anglers to do advertisements for either product. However, I know some anglers will have a hard time dealing with this problem as some did with B.A.S.S.

Chuck Main of Ellwood City, Pa., writes:
Don't use tobacco, but it's okay to get smashed now that we got the sponsor money! Wow! Now everyone can thank God with a Keystone Light sign behind them. Guess they kind of forgot about the God they always bring up with that big contract in front of them!

Carter Northcutt of Frankfort, Ky., writes:
What's the big deal? Beer is legal to buy in this country. Nobody is forcing anybody to drink it. If it bothers you that bad, don't fish FLW tournaments or buy their products. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, it isn't light. Stay thirsty, my friends.

James Arnold of Arkadelphia, Ark., writes:
I voted that I hated this choice. I have nothing against drinking. The problem that I have is FLW stood on firm ground against alcohol and tobacco for so long. There were guys a few years ago who left B.A.S.S. to move to FLW for this very reason. Now after a few years, the morals FLW stood for have been thrown out the window. Just as with human nature, when the going gets tough, take the easy way out. It's all about money!

Blake Edwards of Bedford, Va., writes:
Eight years ago, FLW was living large and said no alcoholic sponsors. Now they trim back and all of a sudden they welcome them and they are going to wrap boats and trucks and sponsor events for college students. Classy.

Hal Zimmerman of Boise, Id., writes:
It's about time. Even though I assume this change of position is as a result of the possibility of the National Guard leaving and sponsor money is needed, I certainly support this decision. Finally, the FLW fishing organization will be participating in the real world with marketing opportunities for both FLW and fishermen.

Alan Bella of Guntersville, Ala., writes:
To me, this is a sad day in fishing. I cut ties with B.A.S.S. years ago for the same thing and will do so with FLW. There are many young people who like to fish. What values are we teaching them? This is not a family-friendly organazation anymore!

Walter Andries of Coweta, Okla., writes:
Grow up! Save the Bible-thumping for church. Tournament sponsors have been scarce. Don't cripple it with misplaced and misguided outrage.

Chad Keogh of Black Creek, BC, Canada, writes:
I think that FLW should accept a beer sponsor. Face it, probably 90% of the competitors drink beer. It would be hypocritical for the majority of FLW pros to be anti-beer when it comes to sponsors.
The only grey area would be the high school and college-level events. Is it OK to have the "Keystone Light Big Bass Award" in a college event? Not likely.

Vince Borrego of Cave Creek, Ariz., writes:
Bad beer is bad for our sport. Good beer is good for our sport. No matter how much money Natural Light, Keystone Light, Olde English or any of the lower-end, nasty-tasting beers pump into advertising with bass fishing will you ever find me drinking one of their products. Low-class/entry-level beer prevents us from getting rid of the redneck stigma that non-fishing fans associate with professional bass fishing. I drink beer, I fish and I demand good-tasting beer!

Glenn Chappelear of Atlanta, Ga., writes:
I am very disappointed in the decision by FLW to promote a beer sponsor. In 2011, 9,878 people were killed and approximately 350,000 were injured. Each crash, each death, each injury impacts not only the person in the crash, but family, friends, classmates, co-workers and more. Even those who have not been directly touched help pay the $132 billion yearly price tag of drunk driving. Is this the industry we really want to support?

Barry McCoy of Castro Valley, Calif., writes:
Great move. Congrats to FLW. Beer is almost an endemic sponsor for fishing. The beer companies are totally involved in NASCAR, seems logical to be here. B.A.S.S. tried it awhile back. One of our local California tournament organizations just signed on with Coors Light (owned by the same company as Keystone). Next is the energy drinks. They are the real money these days.

Mark Aaron of Houston, Texas, writes:
Well, it seems as if FLW had to "belly up to the bar" with Keystone. Wonder how much Forrest Wood likes having his name affiliated with that? Doesn’t make any difference to me whether an organization has an alcohol sponsor or not. They don't hold the bottle to your mouth. If you don't like it, don't drink it. But for an organization like FLW, that has adamantly objected to alcohol sponsors in the past, it seems a little desperate at this point.

Let's see, no more EverStart Championship, no walleye tour, decreased number of FLW Tour events, and no Opens? For the past several weeks, BassFan has had numerous articles on FLW "inking" sponsorship deals pretty consistently. For them to decrease exposure this much, they must be having a fire sale on advertising deals?

I've never been happier knowing that I just fish for fun. Between FLW and B.A.S.S., it's just about too silly to watch.

Dan McGinnis of Lansdowne, ON, Canada, writes:
Yes, I'm sure there will be some people who don't like it, but in this day and age, any sponsorship is a great deal. Keystone Light could have gone elsewhere, like NASCAR, but decided to go with FLW. In my book, that says a lot. Hats off to Keystone Light for recognizing the fishing industry.

Rick Sweadner of Woodsboro, Md., writes:
It's about time! Look at the Super Bowl, the World Series, any other major TV sport. They have been missing the the boat! Get it, boat? Bring on the tobacco sponsors. Let's rock and roll!

Tommy Sanders of Brashear, Texas, writes:
With the push to appeal more and more to young anglers and then turn around and support and promote drinking sends a message: All you are really interested in is money for yourselves and really don't care what message you send. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

David Gregg of Palestine, Texas, writes:
I never thought I would see the day we would read that FLW would sign a beer sponsor. Due to the fact that FLW is named after the legend, Forrest Wood, I cannot believe they could ever bring a beer sponsor to tarnish the image of such a great man and family. I am shocked that FLW has decided to sell out and lower themselves to a beer deal just because of money. But the truth remains that money is the root of all evil. I regret my deposits are already paid for 2013 and had I known this prior to the deadline I would not have fished in the FLW this year. What a shame to see this happen to such a once great Christian organization.

Ryan Chandler of Valparaiso, Ind., writes:
Business is business. FLW has made a choice to do what they had to do to survive as a company. I am sure if they had their choice of who they would want to have, National Guard or Keystone, the choice would easy, but that's not where they are going into 2013, so they are doing what needs to be done to stay in business. That's the great thing about being an American – we have freedom of choice.

You can, as a person, decide to fish with them or not fish with them. It is up to you. FLW is doing what they have to do, so if you don't like it, go somewhere else or do something else. My choice is to stand behind them.

Robert Allen of Calhoun, Ga., writes:
Folks, don't kid yourselves. This beer endorsement shows the true desperation of a once-proud tournament organization in FLW. Forrest Wood, I'm sure, is livid, but once again Irwin Jacobs changes his stripes.
Reduced schedule, trimming staffers, poor TV numbers ... now this? FLW won't be around in 2 years.

Ken Heintz of Red Bud, Ill., writes:
It’s a competitive world. Most fishermen I know drink beer, so what's the problem? Fishing can be expensive, sponsors are needed. No different than TV commercials.

Robert R. Bass of Redding, Calif., writes:
This move to accept Keystone Light as a sponsor wouldn't be a big deal at all if FLW lived and died by the "morals" that they preached. It just goes to show you that money talks. If an angler can bring sponsor money to the table, good for him/her! FLW should not tell us, "No alcohol advertising," and then when it suits their needs, say, "It's OK now, guys." Whatever!

Mike Keller of Pea Ridge, Ark., writes:
It's all about the money, ain't it boys? What's next? Sponsorship from a legal marijuana producer?

Todd Langford of Ashburn, Va., writes:
What a great move! A legal product promoting a sporting event, what a great idea! I also don't understand why tobacco isnt a sponsor? If you are so concerned about kids, then why don't you parent them to make the right decisions?

Don't be confused – the extreme right-wingers don't run this sport. You guys really don't get it, do you? The country or a business (FLW or B.A.S.S.) cannot be run by the right or left, it's impossible. Beer sponsorship of a major sporting event is a fact of life. Get over it! Go back to your snake-handling and leave pro sports out of it.