I left work Wednesday night pretty disgruntled, headed north to the Elite Series on the Upper Chesapeake with the intention to return to the job on Monday fully gruntled. I love the work that I do for B.A.S.S. and even the long days and occasionally crappy weather usually leave me recharged.
Unfortunately, the derby was postponed Thursday morning due to Ark-worthy rains, so I headed home, and back to my full-time gig early on Friday. That’ll save me a day of annual leave, and it leaves me two weekend days completely off the clock. No matter how frustrating my job may be, though, I’m glad I’m not the tournament director for a major tournament circuit. I drove home from Maryland listening to the radio and occasionally calling friends. Trip Weldon, on the other hand, likely had the weight of the entire postponement upon him.
In most jobs there are at least occasions where all major stakeholders agree that a decision is a good one, or the right one. In this particular instance, after going on the water Thursday morning to see the floating debris, I believe that Trip made the right call. He has to ensure not only the integrity of the competition, but also the safety of the anglers and marshals, and protect a number of other entities from regret, guilt and liability.
Of course, he doesn’t make the decisions to cancel or postpone alone – a variety of other individuals up the corporate chain surely contribute – but he is the lightning rod for attention, and you can be sure that he got a lot of it. Even if the event comes back to Harford County in August or September, the anglers and B.A.S.S. have already spent a ton of money this week. Perhaps someone will be forced to miss their wife’s birthday, or some other such major event. Too bad, the show must go on.
The problem is that he answers not only to the corporate folks and the sponsors, but also to over one hundred anglers, each of whom is strongly opinionated and has a lot riding on a particular decision. You can be sure that just about all of them made their feelings known. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was something major or something minor like the dimensions of an off-limits zone, they’re all equally vocal. And therein lies the rub – it’s a constant barrage of complaints. I doubt anyone ever thanks him for making a tough decision that goes against the wishes of any of his major constituencies, even if it’s the right thing to do.
I’m sure that everyone in his position suffers a certain amount of burnout after a while, but what can you do? The sport is so nuanced, the personalities so strong, and the sponsors’ interests so intertwined with the process, that you can’t just grab someone from another industry and replace the TD seamlessly. No commissioner from another sport or Wall Street CEO has the know-how to get it done, nor would they want the job. That reality makes my day job seem less stressful.