Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Appeal of the USPL

DISCLAIMER: the following is about understanding and perspective. However true it may be it doesn't have the power to alter reality. Either the league will work or it won't. On its merits and on the real world demands of dollars and sense. And, of course, it's a more complicated situation than the picture I've drawn here.

Brass tacks, it's control. Not control for the sake of being in charge or in order to run paintball or even just some corner of it to call their own. (Okay, it kinda is to some degree.) It's about self-determination. It's also about survival but I'm not sure everyone playing the game realizes the stakes. Without dredging into ancient history one thing more than anything else changed the landscape at the top of competitive paintball; the quest for TV.

The quest for TV made everybody involved reevaluate everything. It was like a carrot dangled on a stick to the teams, it kept them striving and it kept their attention. TV promised fame and fortune (and that's what many focused on) but it also offered an alternative to riding the pro paintball merry-go-round until your turn ended. Suddenly there was another level to aim for, another goal to be achieved, an opportunity to build something that could last. When the quest faltered it left the landscape altered and finally drove home just what real status the teams have (and had) all along. They were, temporarily, necessary pieces of the puzzle but still interchangeable cogs. Maybe so but the new landscape also offers a broader horizon. The old promise may be empty (at least for the time-being) but the possibilities remain.

Things change. The PSP, to their credit, has been working hard to survive the present and build for the future. Does a national tournament series "work" without the ultimate level to aspire to? Maybe, maybe not. The old assumption was, not. There may be a new assumption at work though that thinks if the foundation is secure and there is a different sort of legitimacy conferred, an honest to goodness national championship at stake to be competed for independently, for example, that the result is more secure, durable and long-lasting. (It could be, but it won't be and, alas, that's another post.) None of that means the PSP doesn't care about the pro game, they do, but it remains, not surprisingly, on their terms. In any event it continues to leave the pro teams in the precarious position of competing on somebody else's terms and dependent on somebody else's whim. But the possibilities remain.

The USPL is more than a 7-man league. It is the hope and potential fulfillment of the new possibilities. It is control of your own destiny. It is a chance to build something that lasts beyond a player's career. For those taking the risk, that is the reward.


retired pro said...

I meant to post this earlier in another topic but since this one addresses the USPL hence Chuck H. I think its quite ironic that Chuck quits JT or fired from. Not sure on details so lets say no longer works for JT. Now Dynasty the premier JT Team that got a huge contract when Chuck signed back on board with JT leaving the NPPL up for chance has now signed on with KEE. Timing is funny here. Now many of you may not remember but Chuck originally worked at JT during the inception of Dynasty which was the main reason they even got a contract back in the day. Now why do I bring this up? Well Chuck is now working for Kingman/Spyder which has always had an interest in the NPPL. What happens when Chucky boy jumps ships again, does the USPL lost potentially their biggest sponsor? Chuck overall seems to be a good guy, at least in my encounters with him. Track record overall not very stable. I think Chuck has to convince everyone he's committed to this league for the long haul and then convince myself. No one wants to be aboard a sinking ship, everyone is interested in true leader with promise. I like some parts of the 7 man format, but I still think its needs major tweaking. Best of 3 games in the preims would be awesome. Maybe give teams a minimum of 10 minutes to get back on the field. I hate waiting around for countless hours waiting for my next game. Uncapped semi auto is cool, but 95% of everyone out there is cheating, bouncing triggers, programs etc.... We all know it, maufacturers know it, USPL knows it, its all down to which ref has it out for you during which game. USPL offering pros to lower level teams is an awesome idea, I just hope the pro players take it serious. Trust me it will take time to really iron this out but it can be great plus.

Lawrence said...

Wait...wasnt this the reason for the original NPPL? To give players the control of their own destiny? Oh wait..look what happened to that.

Honestly, i hate the idea of assigning pro's to lower division teams to let them field walk: if rotating my fingers can be considered a "skill" in a 7 man format then field walking sure has hell better be a skill as well.

Everybody called for a "unification" for so freaking long and once the opportunity opened, it was immediately closed because 1- 7 man isint dead...yet, 2- people wanted control.

Tim Cerruti said...

Im a Hobbes Locke kinda person myself, people act out of self interest which is basic human nature. Government (in this case the ruling bodies of the psp) is established through a basic social contract in order to protect mans basic needs: life, liberty, and property. But when government fails in protecting the things we care about most, then people will break free from their control and form a new government that they feel can protect their best interests. IE the pro teams taking control of their own destinies. Actually this whole situation is kind of like the French Revolution and the English Revolution. Parallels can be drawn between england and the psp who are trying to make changes in house without going through any drastic changes except those about the format. While parallels can be drawn between france and the NPPL/USPL. In the Sense that the monarchy of France who spent all of their tax payers money on extravagances like the Ch√Ęteau at Versailles (NPPL holding events at NFL stadiums and TV. Then the market spoke up and poof it was gone. Now the people (pro teams) who want whats best for france (7-man)
are taking matters into their own hands and attempting to create something that will last longer and be more about the people living (playing) in france (7 man)

THP said...

These are some interesting posts and my honest thoughts about getting paintball on tv. I actually played on pro team that was fortunate to play on espn a few times over the years. As we all know neither Jerry Braun, Gardners, or NPPL/ Fox Sports were able to take it to the next level. For this unfortunate reason allowed me to realize I was one of those players chasing that dangling carrot that Baco mentioned. In my mind PSP has failed miserably as a collective unit, so bad the gardners went ahead and tried to produce on their own causing a huge industry/league uproar. The normal dye vs sp deal. The event overall was by far the most professional event I've ever played in, actually for the first time made me feel like a true pro. Player locker rooms, tv interviews, new turf, indoors, at a casino etc... So what went wrong?well I've heard a million reasons since then money mainly, then dick Clark hospitalization, espn issues. Problem
time and time again no one bought on, no real outside sponsors mountain dew, pepsi, coke, etc... Gardners lost a ton of money and learned dearly from that mishap. So the million dollar question how does paintball get on TV? Well I'm afraid to tell you all neither 7man or xball. The only way I see it since we decided to play and love the one damn sport that doesn't have one main object to follow is for the Hollywood TV producers to find out. Unfortunatey the number one complaint from all outside viewers watching paintball for the first time is that can't follow along. Can't see the paintball flying around, viewing from the outsider gets boring quick. USPL may be a better collective league but the format is all wrong.... Not sure how these guys can't figure that out yet, go to 3 man. Now I think that's a new fresh start and what team couldn't send 3 guys. All expenses would be extremely lower. I know 3 man has been tested in the past buy milt didn't have the money or experience to really run with it. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the UAPL. It was tried. I went out to one event and although it was not the joke it was made out to be at the event, I heard the production sucked (never saw the show).

Tim Cerruti said...

i went to a live show once, and i truly believe the future of paintball lies in 1v1 like drag racing, martial arts. or most extreme sports for that matter. Everyone likes 1 on 1's its quick and you cant tell me its to hard to follow 2 players

Lawrence said...

paintball on tv- what we need is a good show that showcases the game. Not broadcast events. That's just an impossibility right now due to resources, people still trying to figure out formats etc... but i dont see why we cant have a show that showcases the events (ie- watch a derder film). T

he reality of it is is that most other extreme sports arnt televised on a regular basis either: how often do you see a surfing competition on ESPN? Maybe once a year and it's the grand national surfing extravaganza, or the x games. Same with skateboarding, and snowboarding, but what you do see a good bit is shows that showcase pro players and teams, the industry happenings etc...

I've always said I think it would be an interesting test to see what Patric (MWAG) or Derder could do w/ a little 30 minuet segment each month, with say...Matty Marshal as the commentator (not some bimbo chick who has never stepped onto a field).

Lawrence said...

sorry, i have to harp on this just a little more. I'm checking the FUEL TV show lineup and we've got:

American Misfits: comedy
Built To Shread: reality?
Check 1-2: lifestyle
Drive: lifestyle/behind the scene with filmers
Fins: surf culture
Flipside: behind the scene with filmers
Insane Cinema: re-run of videos (mwag and derder vids on tv)
New Pollution: covers upcoming players
Snowboard Diaries: inside the life of pro's
Sorsa Project: inside of the life of A pro
The 808: inside look at the off season for Hawaii surfing
The Cpt and Casey Show: comedy
The Great Ride Open: freestyle FMX
The Standard Snowboard Show: covers the life of pro's and industry news
Untracked: pro's life
ASP World Tour: surfing tournaments
Camp Woodard: reality
Contests: showcases tourneys
Drive Through: showcases surfing spots
First Hand: inside pro's life
GKA: womens snowboarding
M80: follows FMX
On Safari: epic surf spots
Pull: lifestyle of wakeboarding
Stupid Face: comedy
The Adventures...: snowboarding industry commentary
The Daily Habbit: highlights
Oakley Artic Challenge: competition
Boost Mobile Update: weekly news

out, out of 31 TV shows about extreme sports there are TWO that are broadcast competitions. Anybody see my point?

raehl said...

Well duh. Reality TV is much cheaper to make.

BobCat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BobCat said...

Lawrence I see you point but I did not know what FUEL TV was until I looked it up. If Reality TV is how PB sticks on TV I will be very unhappy. The last thing we need is some asshats on TV behaving like fools and having everyone think "R-TV" shtick is what paintball is about.
At some point the people will need to figure out that at the end of the rainbow is a pot of gold that does not have everyones name on it. Even if the NXL (or NPPL/Wintercom show) had taken off people seem to forget it took 75 years before baseball's regular players stopped needing winter jobs.

THP said...

I actually like the 1 on 1 idea and thought about that in the past as well. If the paint manufacturers can figure a way to produce the this special type of paint fill they have been talking about for years it would really make a difference. For many of you that havent heard companies like Draxxus have been working on a special formulated paintball shell/fill that TV cameras could pick up easier. Not sure why it never made it to market, but I guess there are ton of things that I dont understand in pro paintball and TV. Its all about having plenty of cameras with well experienced camera men. I def think MWAG and Derder would do a superb job with a ESPN/Fox budget... I hope Matty and the boys can make it happen for the future of paintball.

Baca Loco said...

I thought it was a better fit here so pasted it in.

Anonymous said...
When WDP was involved at least you could blame it on an us vs. them thing. You can't blame WDP for not wanting to throw their lot in with Smart Parts after the legal issues (commentary on either company notwithstanding).

Now you can chalk it up to a few things:
Camille wants a paycheck for doing something she knows and loves.
Telford wants control, and a place he can continue to call home after snubbing the top dog of the PSP.
Chuck possibly wants control, but really just wants to stick his finger in the eye of the PSP.
Fraige is still chasing the dream of being independent.

I don't know who else is involved, but take all of those interests, add in a few others and spin it into "We are doing this for you the player" and that about sums it up.

Of course, a not-so-flattering picture of the PSP could easily be made as well.

Dye/SP want to control the future direction of the sport, and thus ensure their brands "own" a certain percentage of it.
Lane wants a paycheck and to keep doing what he knows how to do best and loves to hate.
Keely is along for the ride.
KEE is trying to figure out how they can pull out of this mess without suffering financial disaster.

February 17, 2009 9:46 AM