Over at the new ProPaintball (Post title is the link. Cool, huh? Why the title? It's an automated feature for lazy bloggers, is why.) the kids from PBReserve are running a poll about the NPPL's promo/relegation system and I'm interested to see what happens--with the NPPL. That, and of course I have an opinion. Kinda goes with the territory.
Conceptually I like the current system just fine. However, I think there are some practical reasons not to do it. The first year or two there was a much healthier semi-pro division with established pro teams in the mix and a reasonable expectation that the teams being promoted were competitive. Currently the division is so weak I think it's hard to make the case the semi-pro competition is producing pro-worthy teams. Nor has the system encouraged developing teams to push for the next level as it's possible to count on both hands (minus a thumb) the number of teams that have competed for promotion over the course of the season.
Part of the relegation/promotion scheme is intended to force teams to be as competitive as possible all the time which ain't a bad thing. However, for the system to deliver it presumes a stable, active, maturing competition environment. And any way you measure it none of those factors apply. Promotion can only be viewed as valid if the upcoming teams are seen as having earned it and likely to be legitimately competitive. Personally I'm not convinced that being the best 3 of 9 proves much of anything. There is also the question of developing new talent. With few teams moving up the ranks and most of them with inconsistent (constantly changing) rosters if all that is really happening is mostly a giant game of musical chairs for many of the same players or an actual dilution of the competition then promo / relegation isn't working as envisioned. Nor is it a system in harmony with a developing pro league. From my perspective what you want is consistency and continuity--and playing musical teams is counterproductive to those goals. Additionally neither the team nor the league structure is so well established or populated as to accommodate failing teams without concern particularly when the league not only makes no effort to help support its teams, it is actively in competition with them for ever more limited industry support. That's why I think the NPPL would be better off without promo / relegation.