Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Players Union Redux

Why not a players union as a viable alternative check & balance instead of some industry generated option to move paintball forward?
It's a good question so let's take a closer look.
To date the only union efforts of any consequence have failed. One recent venture over in Euroland died primarily of overwhelming apathy (and a sense of powerlessness engendered by the general unwillingness of the players to use or contemplate using the few levers of power available to them.) When playing the game is a distraction from real life, a competitive hobby, it's hard to build a coalition sufficiently committed to make it work.
Over here paulders of then Strange in Am B used a short-lived coalition of the league's bread & butter teams to in essence make a power play. He used the support of teams and players to give himself a platform and the whole thing worked because he was a strong, vocal leader. There was also a limited agenda. No leader, no union. Announce victory, no reason to keep at it.
These two offer a couple of valuable insights: one) the very folks the leagues are most likely to be responsive to are the least likely to organize and mean it and, two) the prospect of organizing to achieve a limited goal is doable but tells us little about how a new political player (a union) would be received or how effectively it would be able to do business.
Let me say here that I have many times in the past advocated on behalf of a players union but I'm more or less convinced that at this point it's pointless. The activist owners * (who aren't PBIndustry) have already been co-opted (and I don't mean that in a pejorative way) and only the Pro teams are in a position to lead any union effort and we've already seen--behind the scenes--that the same schisms that exist in Paintball exist in microcosm among the Pro teams as mostly representatives of larger players in Paintball. Add to that the fact the Haves aren't yet convinced their future is tied (to a greater or lesser degree) to the fate of the Have Nots and there simply isn't the impetus to generate a union.

* I'm talking about guys like Bart, Jeff, Ron and even Sergey. Give them voices inside the establishment and they become far less likely to try to work outside that establishment. In Sergey's case he's hooked by the money invested as an NXL franchisee.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the previous attempts at this represent the current paintball landscape. Rock hard steele is forged in fire, and i think we can both agree that pro paintball is burning. Obviously not every pro team would jump on board at first, but some would. At some point those players and teams not involved would have to ask the question of why they are not. If the organization truely positions itself to promote professionalism and professional paintball they are infact only hurting themselves by not getting in. Then, when majority buy in of pro teams and franchise is achieved, the players basically pick what works best for them and then bam, everybody is forced to the path of least resistance and I still get to read blogs like this for years to come...

raehl said...

The real problem here is that there is nothing for a Union to get. In other sports, where millions of dollars are made, Unions and Owners are dividing piles of money. How much of the millions in revenue should the owners get? How much should the players get?

In paintball, there IS no revenue. Both leagues LOSE money on Pro paintball. You can't fight for a greater share of what the league doesn't have in the first place.

A union would serve no purpose. What could they demand? At most a change in league structure, but a union isn't necessary for that - the leagues are already going to be forced to adapt pretty much the structure the teams want or else the teams indeed will 'band together' and 'not play' - not because of some collective union bargaining decision, but simply because they can't afford to keep playing.

No amount of effort will get water from rocks, and right now, the leagues are rocks.

Baca Loco said...

I hear ya and that's very close to the line I once took so I like it--I just don't believe this environment will produce it. Somewhere down the road if Paintball becomes more than the playground of a few I expect you will be right. I would even be willing, in a moment of unrealistic hopefulness, to say it's inevitable but the time frame matters, at least to those who part of it all now.

Baca Loco said...

Chris beat me to a reply. My response is to anon, not Chris. And I grit my teeth in admitting I pretty much agree with Chris's view. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ultimately the teams havn't made the decision to "not play" as a collective, if the union could only facilitate that one duty, it definately holds value. The union could also offer other oppotunities like collectively marketing pro paintball teams and infact help monetize the idea of "owning" a paintball team. I understand things suck, but should we really lose site in what we want to be?

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see that the boat is sinking and find a unified strategy to tread water. Instead, your proposing we let enough people fall into the "abyss" until the other people decide they don't want to share there fate and change. I just don't understand that.

Baca Loco said...

I'm not proposing "letting" anything just happen but realistically all I can do is raise the subject and hope to convince others to see a need to act.
Over the last couple of years how many Pro teams have gone under? Has it made any real impression? Apparently not.
The teams are either not yet prepared to act on their own behalf or are otherwise constrained from doing so--and then there are the teams that don't yet "see" a problem. And under that last heading is a faction that sees both the Pro teams and the players as disposable commodities and isn't particularly worried about team losses or any sense of continuity.

Anonymous said...

Great, we have the PSP mouthpiece (aka Raehl) telling us for the umpteenth time the PSP makes no money. Raehl...guess what? The owners of the PSP don't open their books for anyone. Like ALL dirty, low-down pieces of ish in this world, they tell you they make nothing. It's just what they do. If they tell you they are rolling in the money, then a union would quickly form and take some of that money. They are not stupid. Stupid would be operating a business that makes no money...year after year after year after year. Stupid would also be believing someone would run a business at no profit year after year after year after year. Quit being stupid and start realizing that the PSP people know you spend 50% or more of every day trolling the internet looking for places to interject your opinion. Knowing this, they feed you what they want "us" to eat....and you deal it out like the muppet you are.

raehl said...

Doin't be stupid. What would I need to see their books for? Everyone who can do basic arithmatic knows how much money PSP makes - just take number of teams and multiply it by number of entry fees, then add in sponsors * sponsor fees, vendors * vendor fees, and players * player registration fees (or, if you're lucky, run a database query). Then all you have to do is figure out how much it costs to run the events. That's probably a bigger challenge for most people, but as I HAPPEN to run events myself, I have a pretty good idea of how much it costs to run events.

PSP doesn't make 'any' money. Now, I don't mean that they're in the red, or don't make SOME money, but even if they're making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, for the purposes of this discussion, that might as well be zero.

Plus, you're missing another big part of this: While the PSP may or may not make a little money, they DEFINITELY lose money on Pros. How exactly do you 'threaten' someone with not letting them SUBSIDIZE your league anymore? Not to mention all the money the owners fork over in the form of team sponsorships.

"Give us what we want or we'll stop taking your money!"

Has success written all over it.