Published on Apr 14, 2018

It is early morning and I am on my way to the launch site for a redfish tournament. I am stopped by the local constabulary and given citations for speeding, no tail light, expired tag, failure to yield, and reckless driving. So, I file a lawsuit against the folks that are hosting the tournament because it is, quite obviously, their fault! I would never have been in that situation were it not for the fact that I was heading to their tournament. Therefore, they must be responsible. Right?


Everything about that entire scenario is wrong but it brings to mind the absurdity of saying that the tournament organizers are responsible for anything else that you or I do on the water. It is a ridiculous concept because these are all independent choices made by individuals and only those individuals are responsible for their own actions.

The tournament organizers have been browbeaten into believing that they are responsible for any mishap if they don’t make us wear life jackets and lanyards. Really? Well then, what about when I blatantly run over another boat or drive recklessly and injure another person while in the tournament. Is the tournament responsible? No one is really sure, are they? Why not? Because when the tournaments take on the responsibility of mandating safety rules then, in my opinion, they are responsible for ALL the safety issues. So maybe they will soon mandate that we are all to become certified captains that have passed every safety course in existence. Hopefully by now you have begun to join me in seeing the absurdity of the whole scenario.

It is simply part and parcel of the “no blame” attitude that permeates our Millennial-esque society. Someone must be to blame but it couldn’t possibly be the person who made the decision and choice to act in the way they did. Certainly, it is not my responsibility if I smoke two packs a day for forty years, get cancer, and die. No way. It is the fault of the government and the tobacco companies. They should have prevented me from being stupid.

The same goes for tournament organizers. To make it a hard and steadfast “rule” that I wear a kill switch lanyard and a life jacket is absurd. And, by doing so, they DO take on a certain responsibility for those actions. However, if these items were a “recommendation” instead of a “rule” it clearly becomes the choice of the angler and therefore the responsibility of the angler to enforce those rules on his/her boat - or not. After all, is a captain not lord of his vessel without exception?

These same anglers will go on the water hundreds of times a year. Who is responsible for their behavior all those times? They either learn and utilize safe habits or they don’t. Mandating such behavior is not only silly and meddlesome but reverses the responsibility for a behavior pattern (like smoking being someone else’s fault).

I would submit to you that tournament organizers would be wise to alter their perspective of their responsibility to the anglers that participate in these events. In my mind, tournament coordinators are responsible for nothing other than defining the rules of play, choosing a venue, collecting and holding the cash, providing an accurate measuring and weighing station, ranking the participants by performance, and disbursing the funds – that’s it! Nothing more.

When a group makes it compulsory that you sign a disclaimer that they are not responsible for any bad thing that happens to you and then mandates that you behave in a certain manner, there is an inherent conflict from a legal and logical perspective as to who is responsible for what. Whereas, if the organizers said, “we recognize, endorse, and recommend all these safety behaviors but all these items are the anglers responsibility”, and THEN you sign a disclaimer, it is crystal clear that YOU are the responsible party should anything go awry.

Furthermore, I would like to see the anglers take on the responsibility of policing their own actions and being responsible for same. When I am on the water, my boat is my castle and I am the captain of my boat and the king of my castle.

am responsible!

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