Scheduling, as we all know from our personal lives, can be a daunting task. So many of our plans have something, sometimes even ourselves, get in the way of perfect execution. As Robert Burns wrote so many years ago even"..the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry..". I was thinking about this very issue as I was online renewing my SKA membership for the 20th consecutive season. As Mercury Marine has become the title sponsor of the SKA, it comes as no surprise to us that the 2017 schedule continues to lean in the direction of events sponsored by Mercury. This is not only a good business move for Mercury but also benefits the SKA and its membership, the anglers. I think most anglers understand this. Supporting those who support our Association is one of the main reasons we chose to put triple Verado 350s on the back of the new FishDancer. We always have been and always will continue to be committed to support those who support the SKA. With that said, and with our competition membership up to date for another year of competition, let's look at the 2017 SKA schedule.
The 2017 SKA schedule was released late last week and is very different than in past years. First there was no attempt at a PRO circuit, so without any fanfare or hoopla, the SKA PRO series is gone. Also gone is the ability for anglers to count on the season beginning in Key West in January, something that has happened every season since we originally signed up and end the season at the Nationals in November. These two SKA traditions offered anglers a sense of consistency from the SKA calendar for many many seasons. in 2017, Key West is no longer a sanctioned SKA event and the Nationals are now scheduled on Halloween weekend? Gone is Division VIII as it was combined with Division X and gone is the divisional balance of numbers of event in each division, historically 4-5 for each - the current schedule has division X with seven events and division VII with one?
Given the fact that there are thousands of SKA members, this writer can accept the fact that the schedule, no matter how well thought out or planned, will never satisfy the schedules of all of the members or even satisfy this member alone. But, when significant changes to longstanding traditional events are made without any notice (i.e. Key West cancelled in 2017 and the Nationals being moved to Halloween) disharmony aboard the SKA member ship is the result. As an example, Team FishDancer, after consulting with the SKA after nationals about the dates for Key West, was in the process of confirming our non-refundable land accommodations and dockage to fish Key West back in late November. Key West has always been a fun break from winter and a great king fishery to compete in and the SKA event had been held for 20 consecutive seasons. The day we were going to send in our deposits, we learned via FaceBook that the event was off the SKA schedule. No SKA communication, or explanation, or advance notice, just off the SKA schedule. It is difficult for us to see how is this good for the SKA, its membership, other tournaments or the SKA sponsors?
The SKA Nationals has historically always been held in November, traditionally the 2nd week in November but more recently the first week. This event - aka The Big Dance, and this week aka 'Championship Week' - is the culmination of the SKA divisional schedule and has always been something we add to our angling schedule each fishing season. in 2017 the 'Big Dance' has been scheduled on the final week of October! Wait, isn't that Halloween weekend? Yes! Ouch, isn't that Ga/FL football weekend? Yes! Holy scheduling conflict, Batman, isn't that the annual Dunbar's Halloween Bash weekend? Yes! Aye, yi yi - doesn't that mean that the Pre- Game Bash For Cash is only 3 days after and 620 miles from, the finals of the Wild West? Yes! Isn't that silly? We report and leave it to you to make the determination.
We understand the need to change - those who are not changing are falling behind. We have historically been supporters when changes were made for sound business or angling reasons and questioned changes that do not make sense to us as anglers. For example, when the SKA schedules a KMT , as part of a grouper tournament, in August out of Crystal River, Florida - even the most ardent SKA supporters have to shake their heads and look at their calendars. What were they thinking??? How many SKA teams will sign up for the KMT portion of this event?
Several years ago when new ownership took over the SKA, there was a buzz and members was pumped up about what new owners would do to improve the SKA overall. After a few stumbles - like the one fish, two fish, redfish, bluefish checkout at the Morehead City PRO event and their poor handling of the PRO series causing its ultimate demise, we have tried to settle in and enjoy what we can with the SKA under this regime. But, in all honesty, it gets harder every year as this angling team never knows what to expect from the Association, its schedule or the overall general direction. Perhaps someday those directing the course of the SKA will realize IF the anglers are not considered more when scheduling occurs, the anglers themselves will schedule less participation in SKA events? This is a recipe for a scheduling disaster for both.......