Bass, yes. Beer, no.
March 13 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Bass, yes. Beer, no. | Friday, March 14, 2003

Friday, March 14, 2003

Bass, yes. Beer, no.

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Thank God for men like Jimmy Houston, a professional bass angler who has already made the Fishing Hall of Fame, the Hall of Legendary Anglers and the Pro Bass Angler Association Hall of Fame - and is still fishing.

It's what Houston is not doing that made news recently - he's not going along with a new sponsorship agreement between Busch beer and the Bass Angler Sportsman Society (BASS) that requires competitors to display a Busch patch on their clothing and a Busch decal on their boat.

As a result, though Houston is allowed to enter and to accept winnings from individual fishing tournaments, he cannot collect qualifying points for the annual BASS Master's Classic - the Super Bowl of professional bass anglers. Nor can he contend for the "Angler of the Year" prize, worth $100,000.

Houston, who hosts "Jimmy Houston Outdoors" on ESPN2 and who serves as a deacon at First Southern Baptist Church in Keys, Ok., considers his Christian testimony to be more valuable than the potential prizes he's giving up.

Of 182 BASS anglers, according to a March 10 story from Baptist Press, Houston is the only one who has refused to display the Busch logos, though one fisherman, Lyndell Martin of Texas, opted not to fish at all this year.

Houston, who helped to organize a "Fellowship of Christian Anglers" group, said he's disappointed that other Christian tour members haven't joined him in refusing to promote the beer company.

Houston has been a mainstay of the BASS tour for more than 30 years and has twice been honored as Angler of the Year. But, when he learned of the new sponsorship agreement, he knew he just couldn't swallow the bait.

Ironically, BASS rules prohibit contestants from drinking alcohol during BASS events, and even on the day preceding.

Houston said the excuses he's heard are similar to those made by NASCAR teams who include a Busch logo in the collection of required decals displayed on the front quarter panels of racing cars.

Houston praised a young driver, Hank Parker Jr., who is currently without a ride because he turned down a high-dollar endorsement contract from Seagram's Ice, a wine product.

While some consider alcohol industry sponsorships to be just a part of the game, Houston refused to compromise. He didn't even have to pray about it. "There was nothing to pray about," he said. "I didn't have a decision to make."

Thank God for men like Jimmy Houston. Of all the varied forces eating at the fabric of society, I am convinced that none are more insidious, more deceptive, or more harmful than the behemoth beer companies and their ubiquitous advertising.

As Steve Sumerel showed in a recent Biblical Recorder article, beer companies are routinely bypassing laws designed to prevent them from targeting young people, and focusing their advertising on the television programs most popular with teenagers and young adults.

Every humorous or excitement-laden advertisement that promotes alcohol as a contributor to joy, social interaction, or well-being is just one more lie.

For every moment of drunken exuberance, there are corresponding times spent with hangovers, headaches, and an inner emptiness that longs for another artificial high.

For every awkward social relationship greased by alcoholic lubricants, there are family relationships broken and left beyond repair.

Every inebriation-induced feeling of euphoria is yet another symptom of a deep sickness, a hollow core that cries out for fulfillment that can only come from the Holy Spirit, not from distilled spirits.

I fully believe that the world's alcohol conglomerates are more dangerous than anything Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein could ever dream up. Every terrorist act over the past year combined would still result in less damage, death and destruction than alcohol brings every day of the week. But the pain alcoholics inflict on their families and the broken lives that drunken drivers leave in their wake just don't create the same kind of public concern.

And, the alcohol industry is so powerful and politically protected that it is virtually immune from having to accept responsibility for its actions. You can require cigarette manufacturers to pay out billions for misleading smokers (who ought to know better) about the health risks of tobacco, but you cannot sue a beer company for producing and promoting poisonous products that kill people. Did you know that?

Big beer is free to throw its weight around with supreme confidence and little or no consideration for the harm it brings. When a beer company spends a fraction of the wealth it has drained from the populace to plaster its corporate face all over a sporting event, it simply doesn't expect any competitors to put principle over profit.

That's why it's such a rare and glorious thing to see someone stand up to Goliath.

Three cheers for Jimmy Houston.

May God raise up more men and women who have slingshots of conviction - and a good aim.

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3/13/2003 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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