Saturday, February 28, 2009

PSP vs. AXBL, round 2

Since we are only traveling back in time a brief period--to the PSP vs. AXBL post--we will not be needing Mr. Peabody, his boy, Sherman, or the Wayback machine for this one. This response is too complex for a post comment though and as such defaults into a follow-up post; PSP vs. AXBL, round 2. In the hope of keeping the dialogue chronological and clear I will recap in brief to the point of Raehl's most recent rebuttal and then respond--as I promised to last week in Phoenix--whereupon Raehl will retreat in dismay and embarrassment clutching at his hind quarters, figuratively of course.

The original enquiry. Identified two core issues for the PSP; the uncertain draw at any given event and the continuing struggle to fill the upper non-pro division(s). Neither of these are issues for the AXBL which maintains a consistent tiered league from a regional base with lower level teams playing expressly with the goal of moving up. The question became, Is there anything to be learned here? Why does the one struggle in these areas when the other doesn't?

Raehl's first reply. (I'm leaving out the stuff that isn't, to my mind, responsive to the original post but if Chris or anyone else wishes to drag it back in, in the comments, that's fine.) Raehl suggests any differences that might be viewed as advantage AXBL accrue from proximity--being a regional series it is cheaper and easier to be the AXBL. He further suggests that my allegation that the "team ownership" structure could play a role is silly as he reiterates his proximity is all argument.

Unfortunately for Raehl I had already dealt with his proximity argument before he made it by introducing the CFOA into the original post. If the CFOA can act as a stand-in for the PSP then the regional versus national argument fails immediately because the CFOA struggles with exactly the same issues as the PSP with respect to the topic of the post.
And where I think Raehl may be missing the boat in "team ownership" is his determination to make it solely about the interaction between the league and the team. It is clear that while that basic relationship may be similar it's not the relevant aspect if, in fact, team ownership possesses any relevance.

Raehl's second reply. Raehl adds to his explanation by suggesting it is proximity and a league that requires advance payment in order to participate. And, uh, the format is different. He closes his comment with these statements:
PSP can be every bit as stable as AXBL, as long as they cut their events down to three fields, two days, and don't let anyone play unless they pay for the full season up front.

You're right, dissecting an argument is what I always do, because if your argument is crap, you don't have a point, you have a fantasy. You start with information that isn't true, apply logic that is bunk, and reach a conclusion that is, obviously, disconnected from reality. And before you try and bust out that ad-hominem "psp shill" retort in defense of your non-point again, remember that the NCPA has pretty much exactly the same league structure as AXBL, and had it first, so I'm obviously a fan. I don't think I said anything bad about AXBL; I said that your conclusion as to why AXBL was more consistent was mistaken.

I included that last para just for fun and that's the one I want to start with. It's not really pertinent but so what? But it would be helpful if Raehl could read with comprehension, for a start. I did not call him a PSP shill nor did I accuse him of denigrating the AXBL. I did say he left himself open to that accusation--which has been made before but not by me--when his knee-jerk response is to always defend the PSP even when nobody is on the offensive. It also makes for shoddy thinking as these exchanges ought to demonstrate. Let's list the ways. I did not offer any conclusions about anything. I didn't construct an argument, logically or otherwise. I did provide some salient information which is unequivocally true and correct. And the only place Raehl attacked the information was with respect to "team ownership" but I also provided a definition in the original post--which was conveniently ignored. (Unstated elements of my interest in "team owners" are the commitment required and the numbers of such teams drawn from a relatively small area vis-a-vis the PSP's nationwide draw.)
What I did do was juxtapose what I called AXBL strengths against PSP weaknesses and posed a question or two intended to encourage peeps to think a little bit.

As to the substance of Raehl's second reply there is something to both proximity and the upfront commitment but the example of the CFOA already limits, at the very least, the impact of proximity as the decisive factor. Though using proximity as a filter for cost and time commitment might be productive but again there is the CFOA counter-example. And to suggest the PSP could be as stable as the AXBL if the PSP were to become like the AXBL (a regional closed league) is actually more telling than Raehl seems to realize. Perhaps the question ought to be is AXBL-type stability possible short of becoming like the AXBL?

Meanwhile, the questions remain open. There were some good comments the first time around and I hope a few more of you take a little time to reconsider the original post this time around. The object here isn't (and wasn't) about picking winners and losers. If I have piqued your interest look at the original post one more time. Major league paintball is on rocky ground and needs answers or at the very least some new ideas generated (perhaps) by confronting the old problems in new and different ways.

UPDATE: It has been suggested that the above isn't really an advancement on the original. That is a view I won't debate. Instead I will, at the proverbial later date, offer some expanded thoughts on the topic. How could I resist dredging another post out of the topic?


Anonymous said...

Great post, very good analysis. I can't wait to see Chris' reply to this one...LOL

editor said...

maybe what needs to be done is to create a 'league structure' from the ground up, based entirely on budgetary considerations: baseline would be an average of what the typical regional team spends in a season...

This approach would mitigate distraction over other issues, at the least. I'll start working on it now...

Chris said...

The AXBL vs PSP argument is really apples and oranges. While the AXBL structure works great for local events, understand that it is still simply a local event.

I do not even see the appeal of the AXBL, why would a team want to join a league that has no divisions at all? Knowing going into it that you have little / no chance on winning, and will be matched up vs Pro's?

The GXPL, which is in the same exact area as the AXBL is scared to death of letting Semi-Pro / Pro players play because they feel it will scare away rookie teams?

A old passion of mine was racing, I loved the drag strip, loved flash light drags more.. And something about street racing was always fun.. But I got out of it for one reason, punk ass kids who thought their Beretta was faster then my Corvette... The kids who thought their eclipse could smoke my friends charger..

Just because you can only afford a $125 a month car payment.... Doesn't make your Cavalier fast..

Just because you can only afford the AXBL.. Doesn't make it better.

Lawrence said...

thanks for the "update."

Anonymous said...

Wow Chris, I hope you were drinking when you posted that, cause ya kinda sounded like an ass.

raehl said...

Maybe we should back up a bit, and first look at the question-begging Baca has going on here.

Baca has chosen to frame the question in terms of AXBL being "stable" and PSP being "unstable".

Why not look at it as PSP being "flexible" and AXBL being "inflexible"?

What, after all, does AXBL gain from it's inflexibility? They have the same number of teams an event, and later in the season some teams don't get to play matches they paid for because their opponents forfeit.

PSP's flexibility gives them the ability to accommodate as many teams as want to pay the entry fee to play the event. So in Phoenix, PSP can run 50 5-man teams. And at World Cup, PSP can run over 200 teams. Now, I suppose PSP could put a cap on 5-man teams and only allow 50 teams a tournament and have the same number of teams. Or, if they want to go full-on AXBL, they can only allow the SAME teams to play every event, and run 20 5-man teams.

What do you call changing your structure from one that allows you to have 200 teams attend to one that only allows for 20 teams to attend?

Stupid, that's what.

This whole discussion is based on the false premise that having "stability" is a good thing. Maybe we should start with what, exactly, is better about the AXBL's setup?

Is it better because you can't play at all unless you pony up a non-refundable $6,500 in November?

Is it better because the 2nd and 3rd tier divisions are paying $65/case FPO?

Is it better because the number of matches you play each *YEAR* is 6?

PSP is already using as much of the AXBL model as will work where it will work: The Pro division, where PSP can reasonably expect all the teams to travel nationwide to all the events. Attempting to use the AXBL model D2-D4 where the vast majority of teams play the event closest to them or cup would be suicide.

Mitch Karn AXBL Commissioner said...


I dont see any reason to start bashing the AXBL because you either a)dont like the AXBL or b)dont agree with the blog.

No one is bashing the PSP here. This blog is just a comparison of the two leagues. It by no means warrants an attack on the AXBL or the PSP for that matter.

I have said it time and time again....the PSP provides a great league for the players of this industry. Coming on forums like this one and my own AXBL forum on PBNation and arguing and now bashing the league gets you nowhere. It only makes you look bad.

The two leagues provide two completely different styles and options. What works for one might not work for the other and vise versa. There are people that love the PSP and ones that hate it and there are people that love the AXBL and some that hate it.

Leave it at that....these are only comments and suggestions that frankly all of us in the industry could take a look at. The industry itself is in such shambles that it wouldnt hurt from time to time to listen to some critisism from anyone.

raehl said...

Thanks Mitch! Glad to see everyone except Baca realizes that what works as a regional league structure won't necessarily work for a national league structure.

As for league bashing, Mitch, first, have you been reading this blog very long? There are lots less-than-glowing things said about PSP here. A lot of them are said by Baca himself. And don't get me started on some of the stuff he's said about APPA! But you don't see me getting all mad at Baca and whining that there's no reason to be bashing PSP or APPA or me or whatever. Sometimes Baca has a damned good point. Sometimes he's off his rocker - but either way, nobody thinks Baca is somehow obligated to not give his opinion just because it might be "bashing".

Taking that to the AXBL front, why is it that whenever I talk about AXBL you come back with how it's not nice that I'm "bashing" AXBL?

Take this most recent post for example. I said:

- AXBL teams get 6 matches a year
- AXBL teams pay $6,500, have to pay it in November, and it's non-refundable
- AXBL teams in lower divisions pay $65/case FPO

Are these things true? Only one I'm not 100% sure on is the FPO paint price, but I'm 98% sure that's the right number.

And on the AXBL PbNation forum, and here in the past, I've also pointed out that AXBL does *NOT* have any franchise teams despite the AXBL's marketing materials to the contrary, and I also recently pointed out that the AXBL is the only paintball league on the planet that sells the team's jersey sponsor space and doesn't give the teams anything for it.

It seems a bit silly that you suggest the industry "take a look" at these "comments and suggestions", but seem at the same time to think that any comments about the AXBL that don't neatly jive with your marketing materials are just "AXBL bashing". AXBL is what it is - if it's survival depends on no one talking about it, you might be in trouble.

Baca Loco said...

Your determination to make everything an either or is remarkable particularly as it leads you to keep putting words in my mouth and making claims on my behalf I haven't made.

Re: stability. Well, when Lane is seriously concerned up to the final days leading into Phoenix that the league could lose tens of thousands of dollars I think he might approve of a little more stability if it provided additional security. Then you have the recent demise of the NPPL operating the same basic operational model as the PSP. But that's no reason, apparently, to consider how doing things differently might be worth thinking about.

And, of course, there is no reason to set up stability against flexibility excepting you think that's a battleground you can win. Sadly, you're the only one who cares and is trying to "win" anything.

Lastly, you still haven't dealt with the CFOA element. They are regional. They operate much more like the PSP than the AXBL and they too are experiencing some of the same basic problems that the PSP is. Care to explain why?

raehl said...

You're right - flexibility vs. stability is totally arbitrary, which was my point. You ASSUMED that stability was "better", without actually showing WHY stability is better.

Being worried that you don't have enough teams paying entry fees is not a problem you solve by cutting the number of teams - and the only thing you get with the AXBL model is *LESS* teams, not more, because you change from being able to accommodate anyone who can play a particular weekend to play to being able to accommodate only those teams that we willing to play the entire season AND pay for it up-front.

You're engaging in a circular argument here, claiming that PSP should look at being more "stable", and saying they should do it because it leads to more stability.

The problem, of course, is lack of stability is not a problem UNLESS it also leads to lack of money. And in the case of PSP, it doesn't.

PSP gets more money by being flexible - sure, a more stable model wouldn't have left Lane wondering if enough teams would play Phoenix. He would have known a month or two earlier, for sure, that there would not have been enough teams, as 80% of the teams would have been able to easily tell that they were not going to pay up-front for a full season of PSP.

raehl said...

And on the CFOA front:

The biggest difference is AXBL is in the highest-population-density, highest-income area of the country. You can find enough teams willing to pay a price premium for perceived organization - the nice jerseys, the season schedule, the slick website, etc, etc. I don't think that holds anywhere else in the country.

I'm also curious to see how the stability model holds up in trying economic times. Flexibility may be at a premium this year.

Baca Loco said...

This will be my last reply to any of your comments here--seeing as nothing productive is resulting--but feel free to carry on as long as you like.
Re: comment 10
Again, I never assumed anything. I posed some questions.

Less teams? By what metric? And how is this now relevant? AXBL draws more teams from their region than PSP does so is it really less? You're grasping at straw men. :)

I have yet to argue in favor of any particular approach. You really need to stop making up stuff I haven't said or advocated.

Re: comment 11
At least you've given up on the proximity argument. However, claiming the AXBL is the beneficiary of high pop density and high income only infers, if correct, that the CFOA, in being based in a less affluent, populous region, is suffering as a consequence. But doesn't that also suggest that the PSP, functioning like the CFOA, is also at the same risks, on a larger scale? Particularly given that the CFOA a couple of seasons ago was drawing 100 plus teams routinely.

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

I was in a bit of a rush before so didn't fully explore the CFOA issue. But first, are you saying that you're not advocating "more stability" as a solution at all then? If that's the case, then we're all good.

I think the biggest cause of CFOAs current attendance issues was the two years where every entry-level player was playing at 15 bps, and that included pretty much EVERYTHING in CFOA's area. AXBL didn't have the problem of pushing the 15 BPS down to entry-level players and there were still plenty of non-15 bps leagues in AXBL's area providing an environment that wasn't driving new players out of the game.

Which brings us to point 2:

Attendance increase/decline occurs in a wave that starts at the bottom and travels up. When you're comparing CFOA and AXBL, you're making an error when you compare CFOA 5-man to AXBL, because they're not the same levels. AXBL is in an area with several leagues where other leagues develop the entry-level players and AXBL targets more experienced players. AXBL appears to be doing OK for the same reason CFOA XBall appears to be doing OK - it's at the tail end of an attendance decline that actually started 2-3 years ago at the entry level. 5-man attendance started dropping significantly last year (not just in CFOA but in other local/regional leagues) even while XBall attendance was up, but now that decline has hit the higher levels - AXBL/MXL is down to 42 teams from 48, CFOA is down to 25 from 31 for their first event of the season.

As for the team numbers, you are apparently using bad data. AXBL has 21 teams from their area, 42 if you count MXL as well. PSP had 133 teams play NEO. I think that's a WEE bit more than 42. Of those 133 teams, 30 played NEO only, and I'm going to guess that at least 12 more were north-east based teams that played other events.

But, looking at your stability proposal, if PSP only had teams that were willing to play every event of the season, NEO (and every other event) would only have had 45 teams at NEO - or any other event - 10 of whom where the Pro teams.

When you get down to it, PSP runs a series of showcase events. The Pros show up to every one. But the vast majority of participation at each event is teams going to one PSP showcase event a year. That's PSP's customer. It makes no sense for PSP to try a model that very few teams even want.

The existence of enough teams in the Northeast to support a season-schedule league does not in any way indicate that a season-schedule league is the right structure for a national circuit. Not one that is primarily financed by the entry fees of one-event-per-year teams.

Lawrence said...

As a player in the CFOA i've seen the decline and i blame it on: the introduction of Xball events, the move back to 5 man fields instead of keeping with xball fields, and the drop in BPS to 10. When the CFOA began to offer xball events there was a surplus of teams in the area willing to play xball and 5 man so attendance kept up with both sides of the league, but as money has gotten shorter people have had to make a decision: Xball, or five man. Xball seems to be the general consensus, and because of the cost of xball and the necessary number of players -- former five man teams have merged to create xball teams. Naturally teams come and go and we've seen that in xball the last few seasons with more former fiveman squads playing xball.

The CFOA has moved their five man play back onto five man styled fields and honestly: people dont like it. It was a change they thought unnecessary and it wasnt worth the change.

Now with the drop to 10, we've seen a large group of people leave the league to play other leagues, specifically the GFOA (The GFOA -Georgia field owners..) which is picking up a lot of steam by offering 13.3 BPS, 5 man on Xball fields. You throw the economy into the works and it seems like nobody really wants to play right now.