Coronavirus has locked the country down and forced us all to rethink our leisure time activities. I have spoken before about the effects that too much leisure time could have on the world but, on a similar note, there is a secondary problem, one that is born out of restrictions on the kinds of leisure that we can do! As an angler and a person who has dedicated a sizeable chunk of my life to thinking about the sticky problem of how we can combat the decline in angling which we have seen over the last decade, I am naturally concerned that the virus we are facing has the potential to badly damage angling on two counts. Firstly, there is a real danger to our participants, many of whom are in the high-risk category. Secondly, of course, there is the risk that people will simply get so used to not going fishing, to not being involved in the community, that they will never return even when they are allowed. While the number of people in this second group may not be huge, I think the chances of this group’s numbers growing the longer we are restricted from participating in our chosen leisure activity are substantial.
What is the answer?
The answer must be that we need to keep angling in the minds of those who do participate during this period when we are all required, by law, to remain at home and isolate ourselves from society. But how can we do that without encouraging lawbreaking or mass rebellion? This is a problem that I turned my mind to as I looked, in horror, at the very real potential of a world without fishing, at least, for three months and, possibly, for much longer. Anglers are a strange group, they are, by nature, very competitive whilst enjoying the benefits of practising a leisure activity that accommodates the innate human desire to seek out isolation sometimes. I don’t speak much about my Facebook group on this blog anymore, but it occurred to me that this group of individuals would be the ideal focus of a new way of practising our leisure. Not only this but the experiment that I devised, much to my surprise, seemed to demonstrate a new way of practising competitive recreational activities which could demonstrate a new way of conducting competitive sport in a post Coronavirus world.
The idea started simply enough; anglers share their pictures of fish that they caught before lockdown. Simple, keep people thinking about fishing by keeping them talking about fishing… but something was missing in this idea! The noise that has been caused by the mems and panic of Coronavirus has naturally drowned out the low murmur that anglers have in the world. For anglers too, the panic is real, they are worried, naturally, for themselves, for their families. So, what can we do to make fishing louder? Simple, make fishing about the anglers again, I hypothesised that for many anglers, the constant talk of Coronavirus would already be fatiguing and that they would cherish a chance to talk about the fishing they did pre-lockdown! It would seem from very early evidence that I was right and the idea of #LockdownLegends was born.
A competition with simple rules:
The rules of lockdown legends are simple, anglers share their photos of a specific fish species and then, on the next day, they vote on the best photo. This works to distract anglers from the drudgery of current daily life in three primary ways.
Firstly, it casts their memories back to happy days fishing, to personal achievements at the waterside and to great catches they have made. Secondly, it requires them to vote and, therefore, to remain engaged with their fishing through the admiration and enjoyment of other people’s achievements. Finally, it gives anglers a focus. Daily leader boards enable anglers to keep up to date with the latest goings-on within the competition. This has the combined effect of bringing anglers into a very special world which allows them to turn off from the depression of day to day life in a pandemic society.
My research, which was originally focused purely on the links between social media and leisure, has organically led me to looking at the relationship between work and leisure and how aspiration (the desire for achievement and personal meaning) drives us to turn our leisure into a central part of our lives. The Lockdown Legends fishing challenge feeds this natural desire by implementing order into the day of anglers who are stuck at home, isolated from both work and leisure! Firstly, this is achieved by routine. There is a post in the morning which updates anglers on the leaderboard, later in the morning, we open voting through the use of polls. There is a post in the afternoon, usually a simple call out or promotional post. Finally, there is the announcement of the next fish species that anglers should share pictures of. The routine simulates work/life balance as it is very structured. The other way that Lockdown Legends is supporting anglers in their hobby at this difficult time is through actually requiring an engaged mind. Lockdown Legends isn’t just about fishing or sharing photos… already, we can see anglers thinking tactically, thinking about ways to get the most votes. This works to engage anglers in a kind of ‘work’. They first have to choose the perfect photo, then they have to work to self-promote and manipulate social media to get votes.
Healthy anglers are a group who are amongst the most robbed by this virus as many are in a high-risk group, have been robbed of work due to lockdown and robbed of their chosen leisure activity by the same lockdown. The cumulative effect of Lockdown Legends is designed to give meaning to those who participate by making the competition a little bit like work. In this way, Fishamo is managing to keep anglers focused on their angling during these troubled times, ensuring those who engage are occupied and remain focused on their leisure has the obvious advantage to mental health for some anglers but, equally, my work goes some way to making sure there are still anglers interested and keen to get back to the sport after the restrictions are lifted. That means Fishamo is working for the tackle trade by buffering customers in the inevitable gap in fishing activity that we are seeing.
Situations like this pandemic can be seen as a disaster with worldwide repercussions for our society. Some will fall by the wayside as culture and the way we do things changes irreparably, whilst others will learn and innovate. In the immediate future, Angling.Guru & Fishamo hopes to support this competition and continue to help anglers focus on something positive and which brings real meaning into their lives. My ambitions would be to provide some kind of trophy at the end of this competition, some kind of tangible ‘thing’ to mark the achievement, but as I am as effected by the current financial situation as everyone else, this may not be possible this year. In future years, I think Lockdown Legend can run and run there is no real need to actually be ‘Locked Down’ to run this type of competition and I hope we will be able to find sponsors for the idea going forward. However, like the rest of the world, anglers wait to see what kind of society we will emerge into after the current pandemic.
Over to you:
What are you doing during this time of uncertainty to engage and encourage your current and potential future customers?
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