Saturday, December 6, 2008

Limbo & the Minefield

This post was intended to be 'New Look Pro'--stop me if you've heard this excuse before. Problem is when I started writing the issues broke down essentially in two ways; the on the field game play and tourney environment with all its attendant political and economic complications so this post will address the tourney environment and the follow-up will be--finally and at last--New Look Pro--and discuss on the field game play.
While the rumormill churns I find all the talk of kick-starting a new national league less than credible. I could see a replacement for the XPSL--maybe--but all the chatter is just talk, talk, talk and enormous phone bills. For the foreseeable future competitive paintball will be dominated by the PSP.
This raises some, let me phrase this diplomatically, interesting questions. The situation has all the intrigue of a Faulknerian snoozer. Owners of the PSP are also leading members of PBIndustry and owners of pro teams. This ain't breaking news but it remains an inherently unhealthy complication because of the conflicting interests involved in making league related decisions. Every calculation is what's good for business; what's good for the league; what's good for my team and (hopefully) what's good for competitive paintball.
Now consider that the norm has always forced the teams and league(s) into competition with each other over sponsors. (Nobody ever seemed to take this seriously until the money started to dry up.) At the same time the league calls all the shots on what it takes to compete. (Remember the built in conflicts above?) And all of a sudden everyone is concerned about the survival of the pro teams? I will gladly grant there was concern before and efforts were made last off season but how much were those decisions influenced by factors other than the good of the teams and the league and competitive paintball? More importantly, what's coming this time around–and why?
This off season will present some unique challenges. There are seven "homeless" pro teams that competed only in the NPPL (not including Avalanche & Aftermath which are in the precarious position of having bailed on the NXL.) There are 10 NXL teams. Prior to the Pacific bankruptcy there was widespread speculation that not all of those pro teams would survive into the '09 season. In a continuation of the team losses from '07 a significant percentage of the current pro teams are in free fall.
In this environment every team is waiting to hear what will happen next season. The answers will go a long way towards determining the immediate future of pro paintball--and incidentally let the teams and players know just what the league really thinks of them. Will the decisions made simply maintain a version of the status quo--and will that be enough?

Is your head spinning yet? If not toss in the (apparent) decision of the MS to deny players and teams the use of guns made by non-sponsors of their league and to charge those sponsors twice, for use rights and vendors space. With this sort of impeccable timing it's a miracle they are still in business.
Here's a thought: What happens if 2 of the 3 largest gun manufacturers simply refuse to go along? (Of course they also happen to be the guys who just spent the week in Vegas negotiating a new world standard and who knows what else?) What are the chances all the little guys are just waiting for a signal to line up in opposition? Or, if you don't like that how 'bout this? What if the leading sponsors pooled their fees and invested in a new European league? There are peeps pursuing the possibility as well as alternative resources available. (Of course, that would put a crimp in the old new world standard, wouldn't it?)

Next time–New Look Pro (yeah, yeah, I know)

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