I've always been the kind of person that loved competition. I started fishing tournaments when I was 15 years old out of a 16-foot aluminum boat with a motor that only started with the correct cocktail of morning prayers and a half can of ether, shaken not stirred. Sometimes I did well, sometimes I took a beating, but it was a great learning experience. But a lot has changed since I was a teenager. These days stuff like boats, electronics, lures, and entry fees cost more, and the stakes are much higher in tournaments. These higher stakes have also made the tournament game more sponsor-centric, creating an atmosphere rooted in sales and marketing. Getting involved nowadays takes some time, means spending money, and taking risks. Even at a young age, I was smart enough to ask myself if my skill level was high enough for a given tournament to take a chance, and I funded my pursuits with money I saved from mowing lawns in the summer and teaching skiing on nights and weekends in high school and college. What happens these days is kids just jump in without starting slow, and when they don't do well early, they get frustrated and walk away entirely.