July 23, 2010

How Can We Prevent Cheating in Bass Tournaments?

It's a sad thing that I have to even think of this, but how can we prevent cheating in bass tournaments?  This is a topic that has popped up a few times over the years, but it has never been in as big of a spotlight as it is now.  Mike Hart and his cheating antics have created a firestorm among bass anglers and everyone seems to have an idea on how to prevent this.

The problem I see, is that there are so many ways a bass fisherman could cheat if he wanted to.  We are our own police, that is part of what makes this sport great, we are all on the honor system.  That is also one of the worst things about bass fishing, nobody is out there watching what we do.  The Co-Anglers and Marshalls in the Elite Series are a big step towards keeping everyone honest, but what about team events.  What about co-anglers in this event?  It seems like they had no idea what was going on.  His team partner for the last few years issued this today to try to clear his name. "I do not like having to make such a statement, as it means having to distance myself from a friend of many years, but I did not, nor would I ever consider violating the competition rules of any tournament to gain an edge on my competition."   If his team partner didn't know about it, it seems like it would be pretty easy to hide.

Here are some of the ideas that are thrown around as possible solutions:
  • Metal detectors: This seems like a good idea to see if fish have any metal inside of them.  What about when you deep hook a bass and the hook remains inside, wouldn't this lead to a positive read?  What if a fisherman catches a fish with some type of metal already inside?
  • Lie detector tests:  Again, seems like a great idea.  The problem is how they can be inaccurate and often don't hold up in court.  What if you fail a polygraph because you are just nervous?  Then your labeled a cheater even if you are innocent.
  • A Marshall or Observer in every boat:  This seems like too much work and how would you find that many people to just volunteer to sit in a boat all day?  A Marshall is one thing because it is being in the boat with a Elite Series Pro, who would want to watch a regular fisherman all day?
If it sounds like I am skeptical, it's because I am.  All of these ideas seem great at first but all are not practical. What else could be done to prevent this in the future?  Or should we just keep doing things like we always have? 
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