It's Tuesday. Yeah, I know. I was supposed to post this yesterday. Monday. Stuff happens. At least I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson in the process. Don't rely on idle bloggers. And if your life revolves around reading a blog--I'm sorry. So stiff upper lip, Bucko, and let's move on.
Unlike the NPPL I am not enamored with parking lots. Never have been though the first time in Denver was a novelty. The Qualcomm parking lot is particularly lousy (except in comparison to the recent Buffalo event which was like an imaginary lunar landscape formed out of granules of asphalt and gravel.)
The league tried out a new schema in event design for SD which was either quite clever or desperate or perhaps both. Imagine the fields as the outside of a large oval open at one end with all the vendors inside the oval facing outwards. Now envision the pro paddocks placed between the two feature fields with access to those fields put as far away as possible from the paddock so that the players needed to walk (and mingle) with the other players, spectators, fans (and other assorted dubious at best distinctions of persons on site) etc. between games. Finally put registration as far away as possible from the entrance area (without actually crossing the border into Mexico) and you have the basic plan. The idea is to keep traffic moving constantly in the vicinity of the vendors as much as possible and the pros in the vicinity of the public as much as possible. Both ideas have merit conceptually but I'm the sort of person who resists being manipulated, even passively, so I can't say that I liked it particularly.
The fields were carried over from Houston (and were pretty conventional with no gimmickry of design) so I was somewhat surprised to see such an uneven quality of play in the prelim round. It certainly wasn't lack of motivation or effort and maybe I'm completely misreading it but it just seemed then (and still seems now) like everything was off somehow.
Most of the leading series contenders had rough--to put it mildly--days which was totally unexpected. The Ironmen looked flat and the Canes had some bad luck and made some uncharacteristically poor decisions in a couple of games they were up in. Just goes to show confidence alone ain't enough and as Yogi Berra might have said, 100% of success is 50% mental. Dynarats dominated--and deserved the win--and a lot of teams that needed results this event played hard and had good showings and every report I've heard about the webcast said it was solid (with occasional sound outages) with entertaining games on view--so I'm not sure why I'm ambivalent about the event. I just am.
It coulda benefited by more teams and more peeps coming out but that almost always applies (how's that for alliteration?) and word from vendors row was that not as much transacting was going on as they would have liked or hoped for. Which isn't a big surprise.
Okay, now for the extras I promised.
Disclaimer: The pro teams had a meeting Friday evening [during the event] that saw a rep from every team in attendance. There will be no gossip, no out of turn revelations revealed and no names given. (This self-imposed restriction is much harder on me than you think because there's somebody I enjoy mentioning in any context just because I know how much it pisses him off and that, of course, is the fun part.) Issues only and my opinions. And the reason I'm doing this is because so much of what goes on in big time paintball is shrouded in secrecy and it's important for peeps who care about competitive paintball to know that there are other people (who may have more of a voice) sincerely trying to make a difference on behalf of the sport as a whole. (Wow. I think I need an insulin shot.)
Gonna start with number of events. You've heard the rumors. All the leagues seem to be discussing a reduction in number of events and this was no different. The consensus was 4 events spread out sufficiently to give the vendors as much latitude over the course of a year to reach customers as possible while still scheduling 2 events during summer vacation to encourage participation from the lower division teams most likely to have more young players.
Moving on to venues. The general opinion was that with some additional effort it ought to be possible to find workable venues that aren't excessively expensive (particularly in the current economic environment) that also offer ways to increase public participation in the same ways HB works. There were a number of good practical suggestions for how to get this done as well.
Game schedules is next and this was unique. The thought was twofold: how to improve player participation by limiting lost work and/or school days, hotel stays, etc. and encourage more fan participation in the pro games by creatively reworking how games are scheduled.
Referees and officiating. In general everyone thought the refs are motivated and doing their best but that ways exist to make real improvements. (And yes, if that seemed a bit stilted and awkward that's because it was and because it's a tough topic for a couple of reasons--and my opinion is forthcoming.)
And finally, relegation. No real consensus here though there was a majority view. You already know I'm not opposed to the process but don't favor it under the present circumstances. The principle argument was the continuity and loyalty one wherein teams with proven records of supporting the league and fielding competitive teams should receive some consideration and not to do so demonstrates no team "owns" its spot and that the league isn't interested regardless of past efforts made that benefited the league too.
On all these subjects no league decisions have been made and apparently no decisions will be made any time soon.
My views on the listed topics are as follows: 4 events is the bare minimum and looks to me like survival mode--which it probably is--and is very likely what will happen. On venues--viva la change! Plenty of good ideas were forthcoming and the league(s) should be highly motivated. The virtue of the game schedule ideas was it offered some creative thinking on a subject few would have thought the pros cared much about. Given the logistics of putting on an event I don't see it working but it's worth looking at and the further idea of reviewing all the suppositions of how an event should operate is also worth doing.
Regarding the refs the problem now is one of ill-defined roles, rules and lack of leadership. What the corps of refs needs now is some clarity--what exactly is our job and how do we do that job and can we count on the league to support us? Any ambiguous rules need to be removed or tightened up. (Read: fix the gun rules yesterday. They are a joke.) For ambiguous situations the refs need their own guidelines for handling and there needs to be a defined chain of command and the buck needs to stop with the field ultimate. The only time Zinkham or anybody else should be put in a position to act with respect to what happened on field is if there is a clear misapplication of a rule or rules.
Relegation is getting a separate post because I'm curious about something. (You'll see shortly.)
There it is. If you've got any questions--ask away--and I may even answer them.