7-man is dead. Long live 7-man. In a move that shouldn't really surprise anyone another effort is being made to revive the format on a national scale. At this rate I'm gonna run out of fingers to keep count. The GPL jumped in looking to fill the void with a plan to promote (and encourage) a unified series of competing regionals under their banner. Then the WCPPL (That's right, isn't it? I'm too lazy to check.) leaped into the breach in order to save 7-man for the left coasters and incidentally help support the two pro teams behind the effort; Aftermath (Hinman) & XSV (Telford.) Almost from the moment of Pacific's bankruptcy announcement there's been what governmental press liaisons like to call chatter flying around paintball's back channels. The latest from PBReserve puts Tom Fore (Arsenal) and Chuck Hendsch (Spyder) behind this move. They aren't alone but it's far from a done deal.
Don't let the post title give you the wrong impression. Or the music video. I'm not opposed to a new national 7-man league. I'm part of a team that is officially accounted among the "interested" if uncommitted. (Not unlike most everybody else who wants to sit on the fence for a while until they see how things are likely to shake out. Which, among other things, leads to a protracted shaking out period.) I liked having two leagues before and thought the competition was a good thing. (I didn't account however for nobody actually learning much of anything in the process. Oops.) I just don't think it's gonna happen. Or if it does I don't think it's gonna last. I don't think that at the moment it is being looked at with real hard-headed objectivity. In fact I'm very nearly positive it isn't. Pure Promotions lost its shirt. Pacific filed for bankruptcy but never fear, the new guys will avoid the pitfalls of the past.
[For the future NPL partners: Gentlemen, in the line item tentatively filled in to six places projecting industry support/sponsorship how 'bout you put together a worst case scenario that leaves that out of the computation altogether and see where it leaves you. I'm not saying you won't get anything but given your past experiences as team captains and owners you should have learned a little something about promises and reality much less wishful thinking. Just saying.]
What you've got is a number of former NPPL pro teams suddenly being pulled between 7-man pro and PSP semi-pro xball. (Because a goodly number, perhaps even most, will have to pick one or the other unable to commit to both.) I understand the appeal of their preferred format and applaud the conception behind it but can it get off the ground, much less last? And in the meantime it puts the PSP in a straight jacket with regards to filling out the semi-pro division and confidently moving forward based on their plans for '09. Can their restructuring withstand a depleted semi-pro? (It will alter the economies of the pro field and refs, etc. for a start given what was in the works.) Are we going to try and divide industry (again) and will industry be divided (again)? In what bizzaro universe does that make any sense after all the whimpering and hand-wringing from industry over the last couple of years? And what about Mary? (Okay, that's got nothing to do with anything. I just got carried away.)
What you've also got is what I assume to be some cross purposes particularly with the WCPPL. Will the west coast support a regional 7-man league and 2 major 7-man events? Aren't Hinman and Telford counting on the WCPPL to support their teams? Maybe they aren't or maybe everybody thinks starting two new 7-man leagues is no big deal and if you build it they will come. It's always worked before, right?
But enough will all the negativity. I think I can help. Why compete against each other when there's a possibility of working together? Check out the Pro Circuit. (Yes, I'm flogging this idea again.) Got that? Good.
What some of the pro teams want is the format. What all of them are interested in is greater say in the process and having some control over their own destiny. (Remember the old dream of the original NPPL?) Here's how it might work. The WCPPL continues to lay the groundwork for their regional league. The principles behind the putative NPL start talking to the GPL towards the end of seeing if an agreement can be reached that serves the primary interests of both sides. Let the GPL be the umbrella organization that oversees and helps build the regional series and incorporate the WCPPL into their structure. And if the NPL can work a deal with the GPL along the lines of running a pro circuit tied to GPL sanctioned regional events (and series) the GPL now has a big carrot to dangle in front of possible regional operators. Call me crazy, call me an optimistic fool but if it's possible for the various 7-man factions to work together I can't help but think there would be a much better chance for success. Of course it would probably shelve the Return of HB but we can't have everything we want, can we?