Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Being Paintball Sports Promotions

One might try to lay the NPPL's faults at the doorstep of the PSP and I can see the temptation. (After all, what was the raison d'etre of the NXL and all those runs at TV if it wasn't about "selling" paintball?) But a couple of factors preclude coming to that conclusion; the NXL and joint ownership.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, the same disclaimer as the one in Being Pacific Paintball applies here as well. Mostly the point of the disclaimer is to make sure if anyone objects they hold only me responsible. You'd think that would be obvious--this is my blog--but we are talking paintball--so I try to go the extra mile.

Creating the NXL as a separate entity, despite the fact it ran at PSP events, actually protected the PSP in an odd way. As did the distinct ownership stakes (NXL franchises & PSP) even when individuals held both in common. But none of that alters the fact the NXL was set-up to reap the benefits of *selling* paintball or that the majority of PSP owners wanted to sell paintball as badly as the other guys--and more power to them--but they wanted something else as much or more. Control.
I'm not passing judgment. (You can if you'd like.) If I were slicing extra large portions off my personal block o' cheese in order to keep the party going I'd probably feel a bit proprietary myself (after a quick visit with my local mental health professional to make sure I hadn't lost my mind.)
With the separation of interests the PSP focused on providing an essentially no-frills (or few frills) tournament aimed at delivering the best competitions they could manage. Toss in the xball format and the slogan 'Advancing the Sport of Paintball' actually meant something that was easily defined whether you agreed with it or not. With Lane Wright at the helm of the PSP the distractions that hurt the NPPL weren't problems of the same order or magnitude. (It's worth noting in passing too that formats have made a difference as well in how the leagues are viewed. Each has some positives and negatives but in comparison 7-man suffers in the critical perception of the referees and their roles and impact. Which isn't a small thing.)
However--and it's a pretty substantial however--where one might equate the NPPL using their tourney series like a booster rocket to launch their mainstreaming & big money dream I see something more from the PSP and that brings me back to -- control. (None of this is, or ought to be, particularly shocking to anyone who has been paying attention and yes, it's a bit of amateur psychoanalysis after a fashion but hey, it is what it is.)
The original NPPL devolved from its original vision into a combine of promoters [for the sake of simplicity] and that eventually engendered the division that created the separate national leagues; the NPPL and the PSP. The NXL followed. It is, among other things, a history of a struggle for control. As a practical matter we are at a place where a small group are in control in part because they've sought it and in part because they've paid for it. And I don't begrudge them in the least--in fact I'm glad someone was willing to do it. But, and this is a big but, a sir-mix-a-lot sized booty--the potential extent of the control is outsized especially if we end up at some point with only one major league.
Paintball, you see, is still a nascent sport (it ain't done developing, it isn't settled in a lot of ways). In that circumstance, in our circumstance, the dominant league is very likely gonna control what the game becomes in the next few years. In essence they become conservators of the game and its future. That was the larger point of this post. And we will all be along for the ride whether it's a ride of our choosing or not. And it concerns me because in the way the NPPL has goals above and beyond putting on good events the ownership of the PSP has a lot of irons in a lot of fires and the likely result, at least at times, is/will be decisions made that serve a narrower purpose than the game.

[There is also plenty more about the PSP/NXL in the Dead Tree Archive to keep you entertained if you are so inclined.]
**I cheated on the date code. But I almost got this posted, er, yesterday.**


D-Mash said...

Great post, this is somewhat off-topic; was just wondering do you ever think PSP - NXL rules will change the no coaching on the side-lines stuff. I mean I think it somewhat ruins the game but I'm not sure I just want to see what everyone else has to say about this.

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, D. The easy answer is no. The view is sideline coaching and crowd participation go together and nobody has thought of a good way to 'ban' sideline coaching while keeping crowd participation. And it isn't the same sort of problem with the NXL (tho I think you can expect the NXL name to be dropped) as it can be in the lower divisions.