People of Color Outdoors bass tournament shooting for

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Tournament hopes to lure minorities to pro fishing

By Russ Corey, Times Daily (Florence, Ala.)

May 20, 2002
 
FLORENCE - An organization formed to help minorities get into the lucrative world of professional bass fishing will sponsor a tournament at Joe Wheeler State Park in November.

The People of Color Outdoors bass tournament is set for Nov. 8-9 and is expected to have a purse of about $100,000, according to John Martin, the organization's president and chief executive officer.

Martin said he formed the Birmingham-based organization six years ago to bring more African-Americans into the sport of bass fishing.

Martin said this is the first time the organization has had an event in north Alabama. The event is also a part of the Alabama Bass Trail.

The Alabama Bass Trail was formed in 2000 to attract more anglers to the state, thus increasing tourism revenue.

Carl Scardina, the bass trail's coordinator, said the event will give Martin's organization a chance to prove itself.

"They want to hold a tournament and get their foot in the door with us," Scardina said.

The Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Bureau on Tuesday agreed to enter a contract with Martin to sponsor the event.

The tourism bureau agreed to pay People of Color Outdoors $15,000 to sponsor the event. The state will pay half of the cost, according to Tourism Director Debbie Wilson.

The tourism department will also ask the Florence City Council and Lauderdale County Commission to contribute $2,000 each.

Tournament fees can range from as little as a few motel rooms and meals up to $50,000 for high-profile events.

"We haven't had a chance to fish in north Alabama, Martin said. "We've been wanting to get one on the Tennessee River."

Martin said the organization has about 15,000 members nationwide.

Martin said he organized African-American bass fishing clubs across the country to form People of Color Outdoors.

The idea was to familiarize those anglers with the rules and regulations used by the larger organizations, such as FLW Outdoors and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society.

Martin wants to see the anglers who are successful in his organization move up into FLW and Bass.

Martin said he expects to have as many as 300 anglers at the November tournament. Wilson said fishing would likely be restricted to Wheeler Lake.

If the tournament goes well, Scardina said it could lead to other events in the state.

One attractive aspect of the organization is its affiliation with FOX Sports Net.

Martin said the network will begin running a half-hour show, "The People of Color Outdoors Tournament Trail," in July.

He said the show would be aired from 10-10:30 a.m. Saturdays for 26 weeks beginning July 7.

"That is some really good publicity," Wilson said.

Television coverage, whether live or taped, provides another way to promote the area, Wilson said.

She said the People of Color Outdoors event and a Women's Bass Fishing League tournament in October enhance the diversity of anglers who compete in organized bass fishing.

"It's an interesting mix to have," she said.

Russ Corey can be reached at 740-5738 or russ.corey@timesdaily.com.
 


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