Monday, October 20, 2008

The Emerging Crisis

Granted, crisis might be a wee bit on the strong side but better to err in the direction of prudence than the other way round. Even as I prepare to leave tomorrow for Cup my concern for next season grows. But first a bit of history. The larger part of the "crisis" that overtook PBIndustry a couple of years past was precipitated by what Alan Greenspan (one of the cursed architects of Bursting Bubble policy) referred to in a similar context as, "Irrational exuberance." Which can be interpreted a number of ways but mostly means that smart folks made some bad decisions predicated on some grossly inaccurate projections. (I'll leave it to y'all to judge for yourselves just how that happened.) Anyway, I bring it up because Paintball is rapidly approaching a similar situation. At least competitive paintball is. More specifically the PSP and NPPL. (And perhaps some of the others as well.)
Not exactly a revelation I know but unlike the excesses of irrational exuberance--which are, by implication, largely self-inflicted--this time around there may be no good answer. Any tournament but particularly the large scale events have to calculate virtually every feature from a projected scale long before the actual event which means they are always balancing between too much and too little. Too little fails to maximize the event's potential and too much eats up gross receipts with unnecessary expenses.
Now you might be thinking, and not unreasonably, well, if that's the way the process always works what's the big deal?
The big deal this time is that there is no good data to help guide the needed decisions. Even with the irrational exuberance there were legit reasons, or seemingly legit, reasons for decisions made. This time I doubt last year's numbers are a worthwhile guide to projecting next year's potential. Nor the last 5 years trend numbers. And just where in paintball's history is anything that will help project a downturn of uncertain dimension? It ain't there. Toss into the mix the widely divergent current views of just how severe the recession will be and it's duration and preparing for next year is a crap shoot at best. If you reduce the series to 4 events you reduce costs but you also increase the importance of each event and suddenly there is even less room for making a mistake. (Of course you also increase scarcity... )
And all the required calculations are further complicated by the present condition of each league which alters their considerations this way and that.
There will be no off season this year for anyone but the players. Getting it wrong this time around will likely spell disaster--at least for the current order.
If you were expecting some wondrous insights I apologise--mostly this post was just me working out some general anxieties, a minor exercise in temporary catharsis--so I can go to Cup tomorrow and forget about all this junk for a while.

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