Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics, 2

Imagine you are the impresario--the Big Cheese, you know, the promoter-- of a major league paintball tournament; what do you want? As many teams as you get? The more the merrier? More teams, more money, more profit. Right? Hmm, not so fast.
What's the format? How many games or matches can be cycled through one field every hour? Or every day? How much does each field cost to transport, set-up and tear down? What about crew? And staff, including the refs? Worse, nearly every expense is a qualified one. What I mean by that is there tends to be a range associated with the cost which is, in some ways, dependent on the cost of some of the other factors.

Remember the first post? (If not the title above is the link.) Tourney logistics are the coordination of all the material components of operating an event plus the time it takes to organize in advance, tear down afterwards, complete the event and the scheduling of the event.
See, the thing is the major league tourney formula is kinda like the porridge Goldilocks was after at the three bears' place. Too cold--not enough teams (for the number of fields, etc.) and it's a losing proposition; too hot--the economies of scale have a ceiling (that means at some point bigger isn't better any longer); and just right--no more tourney structure than is needed and enough teams to maximize the schedule.

Here's one of the little secrets of tourney logistics. Somewhere in the calculations for the major league traveling circuses (or is that, circusii?) there is a limitation which then cascades through every other calculation made about running the event. It can be available space that limits the potential number of fields. (Remember, the cost of the venue, along with it's suitability, is a critical calculation.) It can be, and always is to one degree or another, the projected turnout which is open-ended with the leagues guesstimating likely participation based on past turnout weighed against current circumstances. (Oh, in case you weren't sure that circus thing was just a bad joke. Lame etymology humor. Where've you been?)
The end result is a known minimum cost can be calculated for a baseline projected cost but the income calculation is up in the air until almost the event date. (Which is one reason why season sponsorships are a high priority. That, and in the past, sponsor payments are (were) mostly gravy.)

The result is the Iron Laws of Tournament Logistics apply two ways; they limit in a variety of ways what is possible with the traveling circus model and they can predict how far off target a tournament might end up–but not in time to do anything about it.
If that just makes you dizzy and what you really want to know is how all this nonsense affects your tournament–you're in luck. Riddle me this: How do you make a field more cost effective? If available you play more hours in the day or you reduce the length of each game. Since more hours in the day would require the added cost of more staff, more refs and rented lights, etc. that option would also increase costs. Shorter games on the other hand ...
Hey, don't get pissy with me for repeating the flaming obvious. I'm the one who told you at the beginning of this that it wasn't rocket science–or even brain surgery so if you're wondering where the big revelation is, well, d'oh, there isn't one. Unless this qualifies ...

Ever feel, as a player, like the leagues are putting the burden of paintball's future on you? Prices gotta go up. We cut a corner here, a corner there to help make ends meet and, amazingly, those corners are always part of your paintball experience. Funny how that works. But, man, things are tough all over. Just look at the hard times PBIndustry is struggling through. (Reorg, takeover/sellout, Chapter 11, hiatus, dirt nap) Still, how many times have the ramifications of other people's decisions been dumped in your lap? At least rhetorically. Whatever else it is, that, my friends, is misdirection. Sleight-of-hand. Prestidigitation. To keep you focused on what you want–to play tournaments and have fun.
I'm not saying the major leagues are jacking you up–though it may seem to have turned out that way regardless of the explanations offered. What I am saying is the current major league tournament model–how they do business and how they expect it to pay off–may have (may have) been sufficient once upon a time but it has clearly been stretched to the breaking point (and maybe beyond) so regardless of what comes next as long as this model remains in place it will dictate (or try to dictate) what the future holds for big time tourney ball.

There are iron laws and then there are Iron Laws. Obey or fail. (Baca's Hard Truth of Life #2)


raehl said...

"Cutting corners" isn't the right description. Changes focus on giving players the most bang for your buck. Sometimes that means you give up something that isn't as important for something that is.

Look at the way paintball was played in 2002 and look at the way it's played now. Does anyone really think that what we were doing in 2002 was better? Or 2004 - would we really rather still have the chance that you're eliminated after 2 matches on the first day of the event on one end or the chance you shoot through a skid and a half of paint working through the loser's bracket on the other?

Would anyone like to go back to the days where you might end up attending a Gettysburg?

It's easy to focus on every little change that appears to "take away". It's harder to look at those little changes in relation to the changes that make the whole effort better.

So is every little change going to be "good" for the player? By itself, no. But all of the changes together absolutely lead to improvement - improvement that should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to major league tournament paintball for the past decade.

Baca Loco said...

You are positively Pavlovian, Chris. This one made me laugh. Thanks.

raehl said...

That would explain the ringing...

anonachris said...

Sleight of hands?

I thought the PSP at least has always been pretty up front with its decisions regarding play time.

Other than that I gotta say there isn't much to discuss or disagree on. The post kind rambles. No offense, but you're not doing yourself justice. Work harder! What are we paying you for?

(now you know [like you didn't already] how the PSP feels)

Baca Loco said...

Where do I mention the PSP? Actually all the major leagues have done it at one time or another.

But yes, the PSP is pretty straightforward for the most part but have they "normalizing" the formats with the MS or how rule changes could help sell the UCP. I'm just saying.

I try and try, typing my little fingers to the bone and what does it get me? Nothing but more criticism. It's not fair!

anonachris said...

Talk about sleight of hands!