Monday, August 18, 2008

Not Their Finest Hour

The PSP's Northeast Open is in the books and as usual there are a million stories to tell. Unfortunately I do not feel at liberty to tell the best of them. And by best I mean those that would scar the innocent and shock the naive.
On the other hand I also feel the occasional pang when criticizing one thing or another because there are peeps involved I either like or respect and sometimes both. Even so I accept that pain for the pleasure it brings, if you know what I mean.
Some will disagree but all things considered it wasn't horrible which is a victory of sorts given that the site had no business hosting a national event. C'mon on down folks and watch the greatest players on the planet from a tiered pile of rocks and mud on a non-regulation layout while we deny those same players the opportunity to participate in their matches except when on the field. Hurrah! And then there's the image it presents. It's a poor idea to have a league owner host an event when that owner also has a particular stake in the outcome. There's apparently already been some internet chatter about Philly and Dynasty practicing on the NXL event field and everybody with any stake in the matter has made every possible excuse as to why in this instance it didn't matter. But if it didn't matter why all the excuses? And if it really didn't matter how bad does it end up looking when those same teams end up in the finals? It's a no-win situation and could have, should have been avoided. There was another turf field right next to the NXL field. Why didn't they practice on that one? That wasn't so hard, was it?
There's a reason the league long ago decided to stop allowing teams to practice the actual competition fields and there was absolutely no reason and no excuse for it being allowed this time.
Along similar lines I'm hoping someone will be able to explain how it is that the rules are the rules except when they aren't. The rulebook goes to fairly precise detail about how a field should be set up including the pits et al. Well, of course pre-existing structure required some modifications to those rules and some for this event only judgments (modifications based on the modifications of the rules) that were, IMHO, assinine at best. But beyond that when you scrape away all the particulars what's left behind is that the league will alter rules for the sake of convenience. Now you may say in this case it wasn't a big deal and I would agree with you but if you've been involved in paintball for any length of time you also ought to recognize that coherent, comprehensive rules are the only things that make a sport a sport and the history of paintball makes deviation from the rules a very short and very slippery slope. Consider yourselves warned.
One good story I can tell you involves your hero and mine, Chris LaSoya, of Aftermath. The reason I'm telling you this story is because of the one I've already posted about Pony in last month's archive. It seems Chris had a tiny little fit during an Aftermath match not unlike the one he had at Buffalo NPPL in the Spyder field deadbox. The button for conceding a point didn't work and Chris got upset at the loss of time, etc. and slapped the button and housing around a little and got into a shouting match with Dan who objected to his equipment being treated so poorly. It was ugly, abusive, angry and most excellent entertainment. But the point is the league, in the person of the commish, dealt with it directly and it resulted in a brief suspension for Chris. I've yet to hear anything about the Buffalo incident except for the swoosh of brooms working overtime. That in a nutshell is why I personally tend to favor and have some faith in the PSP over the NPPL and also why things like the bent (but not especially important rules) continue to put the nighborhood cats in jeopardy.


raehl said...

No rule prohibits practicing the layout before the event - it is encouraged. That's why the layout is released 3 months in advance. And no rule prohibits practicing on the same piece of ground that the event is going to be held on. That's why no one cared all the times events were held at Badlandz, or PBC, or when they are held hundreds of times a year in various leagues on various fields that lots of people practice on all the time. Philly and Dynasty practiced the RELEASED layout on the same field Philly and their guest teams practice on all the time. When was Philly supposed to stop practicing on the turf field they always practice on? A week ago? Two weeks ago? Last month? When the event was announced?

It should be obvious to anyone with any basic level of reasoning that the rule in the rule book covers playing on a field after it has been set up for play. That did not happen.

Now, that doesn't change the fact that it was STUPID to use the same bunkers on the same field, not because there was any undue advantage in it or it was in any way illegal to do so, but because there's really no benefit to be gained from doing so while opening yourself up to a bunch of silly bitching from anyone you happen to beat who wants some reason for their loss on top of the standard 'the refs screwed us!'

As far as having the event at a location owned by a NXL franchise owner goes, while it's not ideal, it's worth it. Once PSP was on-site, they ran all aspects of the event, the same as if the event were at Disney or in Bolingbrook. Yes, the appearance of conflict of interest is bad, but it doesn't outweigh the cost advantage. Paintball just isn't big enough to NOT take advantage of shared resources - whether it's using the field owned by a franchise team owner, running college divisions at pro-series event locations, or letting the people you've hired to work for your league (or their spouses) to play. It ain't perfect, but it's the best we can do, for now.

raehl said...

3 months = 3 weeks; long week.

Baca Loco said...

Chris, you'll do better blowing smoke over on PBN. I've no desire to correct your errors and your rationalizations are only bringing you perilously close to brown nosing.
I will grant the restriction against playing the actual competition field doesn't apply in precisely the same way as when the ruling was instituted but that is neither here nor there. The fact you choose to parse it is exactly why everyone involved should insist on the letter of the law. And beyond that any grief or suspicion either finalist gets is still deserved if for no other reason than it didn't need to happen at all. And with obvious alternatives readily available why, if it was meaningless, did they choose to do it?
I don't even need to deal with your last para except to say it's a good thing you ain't a PR professional if you think your responses are helping the PSP. And as to peeps playing who work for the PSP, you brought it up, not me, and I have no intention of opening that particular can of worms.

raehl said...

Why do you assume I'm just trying to defend PSP on either account? Thought this was a comment section - if you don't want comments on mistaken logic turn off comments.

As far as employees go, it isn't a PSP problem. Hell, other than me, NCPA is almost entirely run by players. And Chris Lasoya is employed by NPPL, Travis Lemanski is married to Camille Baker, and NPPL hired Bea Youngs for a bit too, who is a player, team owner, AND married to a Pro player. Myself, the grounds crew chief, and three other PSP grounds people play PSP D4 5-man (and we suck). And Tim (who doesn't suck) plays D2 with whoever. Although nobody playing NXL works for PSP/NXL (but LOTS of people playing NXL work for NXL franchise owners - hell, if that were not the case, many of the players wouldn't be able to eat.) On top of that is all the players who are employees of the various big league sponsors. Paintball simply isn't big enough to exclude the players or their family from working for the league - that's who many of the most qualified people are. Not perfect, but the best we've got. But let's at least be fair - NPPL has more Pro players on their payroll than PSP does (1 to 0), and while they don't currently employ anyone, does not seem to have any problems with hiring D2 players either. Tim working for PSP and playing D2 isn't any worse than Lasoya working for Pacific Paintball and playing Pro. Especially not at the Pro level where Tim doesn't even have any responsibilities.

Back to the bunkers:

According to your interpretation of 'the rules', at what point does it become illegal for a team to play on the same piece of ground that a future event is going to be hosted on? Clearly it wasn't illegal for AA's to play on that field last August, so I'd like to know when practicing on their field became an illegal activity. Once you've decided that, I'd like you to show me where in the rule book it says that's when it becomes illegal.

The fact of the matter is, the *ONLY* way to read the rule that makes *ANY* sense is that it is not legal to play a field/layout after it has been set up for event play. That did not happen, ergo, no rule broken. Any other interpretation not only doesn't make sense, but would have been broken in the past with no penalty assessed then either. No one has EVER been penalized for doing anything the All A's did.

You ask why they did it if there was no advantage - I already told you why. Because it was stupid. You should know as well as I do the propensity for various paintball entities to do things that defy what would appear to be common sense and cause themselves unnecessary harm in the process.

raehl said...

I should be clear when I say that 'we suck' I mean 'we' collectively, as evidenced by our score. Individual players do not suck (although I would not be one of them).

raehl said...

More bad news...

It's not even a rule.

There is no rule in the NXL rule book prohibiting playing the field prior to the event. Rule 4.2 prohibits ALTERING the field, but not playing it. The rule that is being quoted is from the *PSP* rule book, which is, obviously, not the NXL rule book.

Baca Loco said...

I'm always glad to have you comment. :)
If you're saying Paintball is incestuous everybody knows that. If you are saying the other guys are worse than us--whoop-de-freaking-doo. If you're saying it isn't the optimum way to operate but we have no choice I can respectfully disagree.

Re: playing the NXL field. Trust me, Chris, in this instance stupid had nothing, zero, zed, nada to do with it and while you can offer a plausible explanation that's all it is. Apply Occam's Razor.

Call it an unwritten rule if you like but everybody knows it and has abided by that restriction for years--until the NEO.
Now if you'd like to change your argument from it was stupid to it was really okay so what's the big deal that's fine but multiple choice defenses tend to self-negate, at least in my mind.

raehl said...

I didn't realize it wasn't even a rule until I actually checked this morning. I agree that whether it's actually in writing or not doesn't matter in regards to competitive fairness, but do think it's relevant to those chanting the mantra that 'the rules are the rules!' If that's you reasoning, it ISN'T a rule, so quit your bitching.

As far as reasoning goes, after applying Occam's Razor, I think the stupid explanation is the simple one. AA's practice on this field all the time. You're asking why they didn't avoid the problem by practicing on the other turfed field - but that very question illustrates the problem with the answer. The 'simple' thing to do is just do what you've been doing. Moving fields is NOT the simple answer.

In retrospect, would it have been better for AA's to realize the potential for silly bitching and avoid it altogether by practicing on the other field? Sure. Is it surprising that they didn't recognize that it might become a problem? Given my experience with paintball thus far, it would be far more surprising had the team actually recognized and acted on the potential problem before it became apparent.

Regardless, I just don't see any undue competitive advantage here. Everyone had the layout in advance and they didn't get to play the layout as set up for the event, so what exactly is everyone complaining about?

raehl said...

As far as people doing double-duty as players/employees goes, I DON'T think we can do better, at the moment. And I wasn't trying at all to say that the 'other guys' were 'worse' - I think all cases are fine. I was, however, trying to point out that it seems a bit odd for YOU to make an issue out of it for PSP when it's hardly a unique situation, even though I don't think it's a significant issue for anyone. I'm not about to get rid of all the people who help the NCPA just because they play the NCPA. Their interest in playing is the main reason they have interest in helping it he first place!

Tim is in charge of the reffing for PSP. But Tim is a paintball player. He was a player before he was running referees for PSP, and I would be surprised if he wasn't a player either. He's also the best referee coordinator/ultimate the sport has had. Would it be better if he wasn't playing? Sure. But I don't think we'd all be better off if he quit the job he was doing because he didn't want to give up playing for the especially thankless job he has.

And on the other side of the fence, Pacific Paintball is looking for an ambassador/content creator. A Pro player is a natural fit. In established sports, a retired Pro player would probably be hired for the job, but I don't think we have the money or the retired talent to fill the position outside the current Pro ranks. So while it would be great if it wasn't an issue, I think the fact that Chris plays and is on the payroll is a lesser concern than having Chris in the position he's in.

It would be nice if we didn't, but unfortunately sometimes we have to compromise, and I think, for the time being, that compromising on dual roles, while not perfect, is acceptable.

It's not like the odds are very good that we're going to find someone who is NOT interested in paintball to work on the reffing, etc.

Baca Loco said...

I feel safe saying only one of us has participated in a practice with Philly this season and at no time was the field in question played on. As your argument in large measure relied on them playing that field "all the time" feel free to re-phrase it. :)

Re: the wearing of numerous hats (which you brought up) the problem isn't compromising on dual roles. It is the ease with which such compromises are rationalized, as you have demonstrated, and because the appearance of impropriety is actual impropriety waiting to happen. Which is precisely what the non-action in the Pony case in Buffalo demonstrates. The NPPL re-writes its rules between events and retroactively penalizes a team according to the new rule because the league was embarrassed but ignores conduct violations when committed by a high profile employee.

raehl said...

Are you kidding? I practice with Philly all the time! It's because of all the ueber elite skills I showed them that they did so well at this event!

In all seriousness, I've apparently made a bad assumption if they don't normally practice on that field. That may ruin my explanation for why they may have chosen to practice there, but none-the-less, I still don't see the harm from them doing so.