First, the PSP can do whatever they like with their league. And you can do whatever you like with your entertainment dollar. Second, the PSP (along with PBIndustry) apparently has real concerns regarding their continuing survival. I think it's probably fair to say most serious ballers don't want either the league or PBIndustry to collapse but it isn't our responsibility--it sure as hell isn't my responsibility anyway, maybe you think it's yours. That said, I'm gonna try not to pass judgment on the motives of the PSP when discussing the (possible) reasons why certain decisions were made. (And for my next trick I'll be juggling razor sharp hatchets blindfolded.)
Let's begin with ROF: The game play and player development value of the reduced ROF was discussed here & here. For the lower divisions this is a positive. Less so at semi- and pro. However, it will NOT reduce paint usage. It may have some trickle down impact on the local scene(s) but that's really an issue of enforcement and simple common sense. Both of which seem to be scarce commodities in the Paintball. Overall: net plus (but not for the reasons it was done.)
For those of you who think there is no point to "complaining" about decisions made, think again. When PBReserve posted the 12, 10, 8 bps rumor it wasn't a rumor, it was the decision that had been made--and as you can plainly see unmade by the time of the first formal announcement.
Also, a prediction: by the end of the year the reduced ROF will be touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread and a possible cure for cancer despite the fact there will be no way to validate any of the claims made--and if there is no discernable 'improvement' at the local level it will be seen as a reason for further reductions (in some quarters) instead of the obvious conclusion that it's nearly irrelevant. [If PBIndustry is concerned about grass roots playership they have a self-interested obligation to meet the challenge where it exists instead of strong-arming the PSP to take ineffectual action.]
Next: reduced races & shrinking game times. Whether intended or not the concept of a race to a max number of points within a limited match time is simply a game duration modifier. If the race to is too high it is irrelevant as match time will expire before it's reached. Lowering the race however is a means of reducing match time without changing the clock time. If you've been a regular for awhile you will recall the notion of reduced cost/paint savings was addressed in passing here & here. And that the key to any significant "savings" resides in the duration of match play. The reduced races is where reduced paint consumption will occur, if at all. The other by-product is of course less paintball. This is also a price increase no matter how it is spun. Overall: (perhaps a necessary) minus
One final thought on reduced races. For those of you going from race to 5 to race to 4 why do you think that's being done? Could it have anything to do with aligning formats more closely with the Millennium as part of the PSP's plan to sit atop the UPBF (the acronym for the coming New World Order, an international paintball federation featuring a dessicated form of what used to be called xball.) Or are they just chipping away at match durations in order to fit a more profitable schedule of event logistics? Or both? It will be interesting to see how closely the MS rules coincide with all the PSP changes. Keep an eye on ROF in particular.
Roster restrictions. I understand the rationale in reducing pro rosters. I don't like it but I understand it. (It will reduce team expenses over carrying 11 guys, d'oh!, but it doesn't address the ongoing competitive imbalances created by organizations; ie, support personnel. Yes, there are roster limits for staff too but they aren't relevant without any enforcement effort.)
Roster restrictions will compel existing teams and programs to cut players. It will raise the per player cost of competing. And it may impact things like sponsor discounts on volume. This change will effect the league's bread-and-butter teams most if it sticks and that is not a recipe for success. Additionally, the reasoning behind the change is both ill-conceived and offensive. The working assumption is that if you disenfranchise a bunch of regular tourney players they will reform into new teams. On the local tourney level that might work. On the national circuit the issue isn't too few unattached players--there are lots of those who have been disenfranchised by the classification rules--the problem is too few managers to put teams together and handle the logistics, etc. of competing on a national level. That's the ill-conceived part. The offensive part is that the league is making rules not based on improving the sport but as a measure to manipulate the players. Overall: major minus
New penalty structure. The change is primarily a money-saving move that has been determined to be both needed and unlikely to have a significant impact on the play of the game. We'll see. I have never been a fan of the disproportionate impact some penalties have had on match results; primarily majors. I don't like the notion that a 2-4-1 can carry over to the next point except in instances were the penalized team still won the prior point. Otherwise it's just a matter of decent officiating--as it's always been. There are some unanswered questions remaining regarding issues like procedural penalties (as the obvious example). What happens when a player removes his goggles early or doesn't have a jersey tucked in or has a hot gun? I imagine the new rulebook will deal with all those considerations but until we know the full extent of the rule changes related to calling penalties it's hard to judge the full effect. Overall: incomplete
New divisions of play. The VFTD case for new divisions was discussed here and here. On that basis I have no objections. If the result is restructured classification rules that make the league more competitive top to bottom while also encouraging the participation of players across the classification spectrum while reducing the compulsory nature of some of the rules--I'll be one hundred percent in favor. In the meantime it's a good start and a hopeful sign that the classification issues have been seriously reconsidered and will be modified. Overall: (tentative) major plus
Unchanged entry fees. Well, after you reduce the amount of paintball and restrict the rosters you have already raised the 'cost' of competing. Apparently all the economizing isn't aimed at helping the player out. What this one really comes down to was it absolutely necessary for the PSP to make the changes they made? If you believe that you're probably willing (if able) to absorb some added cost. If you don't believe it then it may not matter even if the cost is still within reach. I guess we will see. In any event the league hasn't helped its cause in the way all this has been handled--but then nobody has ever accused the PSP of being masters of public relations. When Raehl is your chief apologist .... Overall: (slight) minus?
Bonus analysis: I'm sure you've all noticed that Pro entry is down this year while everybody else has stayed the same--and if you play a lower division I'd guess that's not sitting too well. So here's another way of looking at it. Once upon a time pro xball was 25 minute halves. Then it was reduced to 20. Then to 15 with a race, first to 7 and then to 9. Did the entry price go down? No, in fact there were unstated admin fees that stacked another grand onto each event's total entry cost--so it was really 6K, not 5. This year Pro is reduced again, to 10 minute halves and back to a race to 7. That is a further 33% time reduction and reduced race. The entry was reduced 20% (unless they've also removed the admin fee.) Another way of looking at it was the Pro teams paid more than twice what anybody else did for years even as their game was regularly reduced. Now I'm not suggesting that makes the other circumstances okay--only that nobody cared all the years the Pro teams were getting jacked up.
That'll have to do for now. There's more to be covered as it becomes known and--who knows--there may be some 'adjustments' to the changes already announced.