(Editor’s note: Curtis Niedermier is FLW’s editor-in-chief. Though he does work alongside FLW’s tournament operations staff on site at events, he’s been only an attentive observer in the last few weeks as the tournament directors rebuilt the 2020 event schedule.)
While it’s still unclear how long it’ll take for the world to fully emerge from the shutdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears for now that some states are angling to start reopening businesses and other operations sometime in late May or early June if conditions allow. Whenever it happens, we know there can’t be a drop-the-floodgates type of reopening. It’ll be gradual, with the specifics varying by region and governing body based on infection rates and other factors taken into consideration by public health experts to help keep everyone safe, as that’s what’s most important.
I’m hopeful that FLW will be able to commence with relaunching the season according to plan May 28-31 at the rescheduled Lake Hartwell Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournaments are scheduled to start up the following weekend.
Whether or not things go as planned depends on a lot of factors that are out of the control of everyone at FLW. It also depends on a lot of hard-working people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. I’m talking about our healthcare workers, grocery store employees, folks working to manufacture and distribute essential goods, public safety officials, law enforcement officers, and all the small business owners and managers that have braved the storm to keep us safe, keep us healthy and to keep people employed, despite incredible hurdles. Yeah, it stinks that we aren’t fishing tournaments, but those worries are small potatoes compared with what many people have been dealing with, and what they’ll continue to deal with in the coming weeks and months. To all those groups of people I mentioned, thank you.
On a more personal note, I also want to offer a public thank you to FLW’s tournament directors and operations staff. Like much of the country, our full-time staff has been working hard from home for several weeks now. It’s really amazing what the tournament directors have accomplished, too. They’ve managed to reschedule 57 of 61 postponed tournaments as of April 20. Fifty-seven events is more than most tournament organizations host in several seasons combined, and FLW’s tournament staff has figured out how to weave them into the rest of the regularly scheduled events without meeting in person, while taking into consideration holidays, other tournament schedules, fisheries regulations, permits, travel logistics and more. And they’ve been doing the work while fully aware that it’s possible they’ll have to redo some of it again later if the country doesn’t reopen as projected. That’s one big example of why they’re the best tournament directors in the business.
Tournament planning and organization are not simple. It’s a complex project that usually takes place over the course of several months. What they’ve done in just a few weeks is remarkable. Because of their hard work, once we finally get to start hosting tournaments again, we'll be able to get rolling right away, and I expect things to run as smooth as ever. Sure, there will probably be some new safety protocols in place to keep everyone safe, but it’ll be the same FLW that you knew before the break.
Times are tough. That’s an understatement. Everyone at FLW is praying for folks who are suffering. If you’re in the position to help out a neighbor or friend in need, I hope you’ll do so. If you can afford to make a donation to a charitable organization that’s supporting the less fortunate, I hope you’ll consider it. And when you finally get to see your tournament director and staff again, please offer them a friendly wave or elbow bump (we probably won’t be shaking hands just yet), because they all deserve it.
Thanks for your patience and, as always, for supporting FLW.