Before I get going on this blog post I want to make a confession. I DO NOT consider myself an expert in the outdoors. In fact, the older I get the more I realize just how much I still have to learn about most topics. Oh, sure, I have plenty of experience in certain aspects pertaining to outdoorsy activities, but none of them relegate me to the status of considering myself an expert.
Yet, these days I seem to be in the minority. Look around and everyone—or so it seems—is claiming to be an expert about something relating to hunting and fishing. As I page through most sporting publications I see “so-called” experts giving seminars, serving as pro-staffers, etc. as if this is supposed to mean something to me.
Honestly, Mr or Mrs. Advertiser…if your experts are names I am not familiar with in the outdoors world does promoting them as being at the top-of-their-game really have any significance to the average sportsman?
Okay, let me stop here by saying this post is not about bashing industry experts. Quite the contrary, my question to you is what qualities or level of achievement constitutes “expertise” in your mind? Is it the fact they have a wall full of trophy fish or game in their den? Or is it a certain intellectual aptitude they have for discussing a particular topic? I don’t have the right answer, and quite frankly there probably is not single correct response.
I think back several years ago to a stunt the Today Show pulled for a segment. In a nutshell, they set up an autograph session with a no-name actor signing their autograph at a booth. Unsuspecting people lined up without any regard for who the person was signing and taking pictures with the would-be autograph hounds. You see, it didn’t matter if the person giving the autograph was legit, what mattered is everyone automatically elevated them to someone of importance. The person was instantly—and I might say, undeservingly—famous.
Sometimes I wonder if this same mentality doesn’t occur in the outdoors world. When someone holds themselves out to the world as important and worthy of respect, sportsmen often flock to them like lemmings on an outright run heading directly toward the cliff.
To some extent I think outdoors television is also largely to blame. Obscure people garner enough sponsorship and funding to all of a sudden become “somebody.” Doesn’t always matter if they have a lick of ability in front of the lens or a personality to entertain or enlighten, what matters is they get exposure and get groomed to become “somebody important.”
In closing, I want to ask each of you this important question. Who gets your respect in the outdoors? Is it the person who has deep pockets and can afford to buy notoriety? Is it the person who has overcome great odds and achieved something most sportsmen could never dream of accomplishing? Or do you simply follow the crowds and give undeserving folks a status they shouldn’t otherwise attain if their bio was scrutinized much more closely?
I know for one thing I’ve started taking a closer look at those folks within our industry who ask to be recognized and/or treated special as someone important. In many cases I’m not seeing they are much different than me…and like I started out in this blog saying, I AM NOT AN EXPERT!
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