Here's the deal. I'm trying something different. I'm gonna start with the punchline and if (or when) you disagree then you can read the reasons why I'm right and you're wrong or you can skip that part completely and continue to deny reality. Hey, if it's good enough for Congress ... (Although I'm inclined to think Congress isn't so much denying reality as imagining they can alter reality by ballot.) I'm also gonna break the post into sections. This is Part One.
Warning: Conceptual Stuff ahead. Boring and uncool. Devoid of rumor and gossip.
PBIndustry as a whole has failed to act on significant opportunities to improve the economic environment in the past and the time is rapidly approaching when this failure could have dire consequences and ought to be addressed. I can't tell you why this failure has occurred and it's all the more baffling because PBI(ndustry) is well aware of the concept I'm about to promote and aspects of its utility and yet only a few piecemeal efforts seem to have been made.
The idea is simple. That PBI shares a large proportion of all things paintball in common and it would be beneficial to PBI to acknowledge that fact and then act on it.
It begins with Standards & Practices. (See prior posts for related commentary, search by label) S&P is shorthand for a system of general agreements consented to by PBI (broadly) and accepted as beneficial to paintball and all its participants. S&P has internal and external applications as well as overlapping applications.
Here's an example: goggles. PBI that makes and sells goggles compete over looks, comfort and ease of use--not safety. There is an industry standard for safety set by the ASTM. There are liability and practical reasons. Safety standards as judged by an impartial authority minimize liability and assure that no reputable PBI is poisoning the well with unsafe, inferior equipment. This is a common interest.
Why does this matter? It is going to become increasingly important that PBI take the necessary steps to implement S&P as the working foundation for building and maintaining (sustaining) the paintball marketplace. And by paintball marketplace I mean every aspect of the infrastructure that makes playing paintball possible.
The reason this is, in my view, a necessity is because a contraction is coming, not simply the previously unexpected plateau of a couple of years ago. [The contraction I'm referring to is a real decline in the Pool of All Players. (All Players is defined by raw numbers and frequency.) That contraction will be precipitated by a widespread economic contraction.] The duration of the contraction as it affects PBI may be influenced by actions PBI can begin to take now. And related to that is the experience of not being prepared to take an active role in the development and maintenance of the paintball marketplace which has already caused a few members of PBI to reconsider their future strategies and which I'm advocating should be held in common.
S&P is the first step because it begins the process of general agreements that will provide stability for the more wide ranging and proactive possibilities (which I'll get into in future installments.) It is, after a fashion, baby steps in cooperation, trust building and shared goals and values. S&P would also serve to provide a baseline universal guarantee to customers and create membership value within PBI. S&P would also be a hurdle to potential start-up PBI.
S&P would also begin the conversation about the future of paintball and include a wider circle of participants.
Part Two: productive competition and unproductive competition