If you're still reading you can breath a sigh of relief as this is the final installment. In case there's any confusion here's a short outline of where things stand.
1) Ditch the multi-division national tourney format
2) In its place, the Pro Circuit
3) PBIndustry sponsors the Pro Circuit
4) Re-focus existing resources and relationships to create 4 or 5 regional series for all levels of play except the pros. (Or integrate existing regional series under a unifying PSP umbrella.)
5) the Pro Circuit becomes a tour "visiting" the existing regions once each season
6) season finale like World Cup becomes a true championship event as regions send their best representatives to Cup to compete for real national titles.
Right, let's flesh this out a bit one point at a time. (I'm gonna base this off a PSP assumption on the basis that PSP already has a successful World Cup and, I think, more of the potential regional building blocks exist in the xball format but I remain totally in favor of another league and the 7-man format.) This isn't intended to be comprehensive. The goal is simply to suggest a viable alternative, to think about where paintball is going and what paintball needs outside the outmoded (stagnant) (failing) framework of the past.
1) For a bunch of reasons. The current structure exists to support the Pro event (at least that was the genesis of the current tourney structure) but it demands an unwieldy scale that can't survive on either too few teams or function on too many teams. The expense to the lower division teams limits their opportunities, places the bar to national competition too high for many teams and directly competes with local and regional tournaments which actually inhibits grassroots development of the sport. A move away from an all-encompassing national series will improve tournament paintball particularly when part of the process is a unifying rule set, format, and standards & practices packaged with the payoff of a true championship(s).
2) The "new" Pro Circuit is the pre-existing pro bracket or whatever form is agreed upon; open, expanded, etc. It becomes the only division playing a national series in the sense the pros continue to travel to event sites around the country. (What's the real alternative? There aren't that many pro teams even today. And besides, I hear PSP has a plan in the works intended to be used within the present structure that will integrate seamlessly with this conception and enhance it. [Sorry, that's another one you'll have to wait for an official press release.]) On the plus side pro level competition becomes more important as it becomes less directly accessible. A Pro Circuit experience becomes a special annual event designed to showcase the epitome of the sport and bolster the different regional series.
3) How this works is, admittedly, a complicated proposition but the core concept is that the sponsoring vendors and PBIndustry follow the Pro Circuit. The result is an annual appearance in each region that coincides with the Pro Circuit appearance and means that instead of expecting the same teams and players to spend money at multiple events you reach a different customer base at each event and in all likelihood draw a much larger local turnout than is the norm at most of the current events.
4) There are already some xball based regional series. The goal is to establish a unified rulebook, universal (to the league and its members) standards and practices including refereeing programs and use the regional series to replace the national series for all the am divisions of play. Where regional series exist bring them in if they want to be part of the Pro Circuit and participate in World Cup and where they don't exist find partners and begin to make it happen. The expertise already exists and there is no reason each region must conform in every detail of how they operate. The upside is enormous. Build a regional base that is more affordable for the players and teams, you develop local rivalries, the teams support their region and once a year when everybody gathers for World Cup the resulting competition is a true championship. In addition the Pro Circuit makes the pro teams and players more relevant because they are no longer a commonplace feature of every event. Pro Circuit stops become uniquely special as does WC.
5) The Pro Circuit visits each region once a year. Each region functions independently of the others. Where a CFOA type arrangement works in the east a west coast regional series may operate out of only a couple of locations and that's fine. The draw is the format, the association with the other regions and operating under the PSP umbrella that delivers a Pro Circuit stop and an opportunity for the real best of the best to compete for a WC title. There's plenty of flexibility. When the Pro Circuit comes to town it is held in concert with a regularly scheduled regional series event. Consider the effect a Pro Circuit stop could have in generating interest and excitement and serving as validation of the regional series and competition. A distinct Pro Circuit also increases the promotional and marketing value to the supporting PBIndustry.
6) Imagine the level of excitement and interest pulled from every competing region when the best teams in each division from every region come together to fight for a real honest-to-god World Cup title. And best of all if the promoters of Cup want to also offer a big annual celebratory tourney for anyone who wants to come, like it is today, they still can. The more the merrier. In that way WC remains the greatest event in paintball and becomes an active marketing exercise that promotes the league, the regional affiliates, pro paintball and tournament paintball in general.
There ya go, kids. Sure, there's nits to pick and details that have been glossed over and plenty of possible objections but those are all beside the point. The reality is the status quo might, and I mean might, be sustained for a while but is that really good enough? I don't think so. And yes, this plan means those with power now may have to divest themselves of some of it. (On that score the issue is what do they want out of tournament paintball?) However, in exchange they will get a leaner more efficient tourney series that builds at the grassroots level and allows then to focus their attention on the Pro Circuit which will retain all the future potential that was the goal of the original NXL.
There's more but either you buy into the concept or you don't.
Um, I don't quite know how to break this to you but I'm gonna do one more post on this subject. That one will be about building a productive relationship between the pro teams and the league(s)--which doesn't come close to existing now.