Monday, September 28, 2009

The Monday Poll

Everybody enjoys predicting winners so it should come as no surprise that VFTD does too. However since predicting the winners among the competing teams is already a commonplace this will be your opportunity to pick a different sort of winner. While at first blush this may look a lot like Another Cynical VFTD Game on deeper reflection you will see that it is, perhaps, just a wee bit more than that. (So yes, it is Another--type of--Cynical VFTD Game but one with potentially serious ramifications.) This week's Monday Poll will be predicting World Cup Winners and in two weeks the follow up poll will be identifying World Cup Losers and between the two we will at least have an idea of how the (literate) paintballin' public views this year's premier competitive event. Btw, with missing week in between feel free to offer suggestions for the Losers options prior to the official poll. Sound like fun? Vote anyway.

UPDATE: You may pick more than one winner in the poll.

If you are unfamiliar with Another Cynical VFTD Game do a site search for past games. As you might predict participation was not overwhelming--which may be why you haven't heard of them before.

Monday Poll in Review
If you are easily stunned (amazed) (or dumbfounded) you might want to sit down before proceeding. Though odds are you are seated already. No, not at the result of last week's poll. That is readily apparent and we already know you can read, if not the the writing on the wall, the digitized characters on this blog. Rather, at my view of those results.
Given the scenario in which you were a pro team owner you were asked to vote for the league you would participate in based on what you believed best served your team and ownership interests. 77% voted PSP and 22% voted NPPL and 1% got lost in the unregistered fractions. Even so the disparity was nearly 4 to 1 in favor of the PSP and frankly I am (and was) stunned by that result.

Mostly I chalked it up to ignorance. Not the sort of "ignorant" one might interchange descriptively with say, "moron" for example but the sort of ignorant that is, well, ignorant. Unaware. Insufficiently informed to make considered or rational judgments perhaps. If you're wondering where this effort to avoid being too insulting is going I'm about to advocate on behalf of the NPPL. (And it isn't a place I expected to find myself.)

And I'm going to do it on the basis of one thing and one thing alone; self-determination. Factory team costs can be justified (rationalized), independents can't. In the past a generous sponsorship system gave hard-working teams the hope that their efforts would be rewarded and would remove many of the financial burdens of competing. That is less and less true even as the cost of competing at the upper echelons has increased. The bill for the pro dream has always been footed by somebody. Today's independents play the game and compete for largely the same reasons every other tournament team plays the game. The only difference is the price tag--and at some point that price tag overwhelms the desire to play, to compete, to win and the team owner(s) comes to his senses. Now you may say that's more or less the way things have always been and I won't disagree with you but take a look at where it's brought us. If you want to know the fate of the pro division look at D1.

Conceptually it's a no-brainer. Ask yourself a simple question: Is my team better off if I'm an owner or a customer?

Or put it another way. Is my commitment to the league matched by the league's commitment to my team? (Btw, I'm not arguing the merits in particular. I'm not saying this NPPL is hands down better than this PSP. In lots of important ways it isn't but at the same time what sort of future does the PSP offer a pro team owner? Other than an opportunity to play at their [the PSP's] discretion and by their seemingly ever-changing rules & format.)


Anonymous said...

In USPL you own your own team plus 1/17 the league along with 15 other teams and one Chuck Hendsch. Anyone remember the NPPL Rules Committee? PSP teams still own 100% of their team.

Would you rather participate where the league is motivated to run a good league or a system where the league is motivated to benefit half of the teams and Chuck?

It is better to own 100% of a team in a league that has value or 100% of a team and 1/17th of a league in a league that has no value. How much of the Olympics does Shawn White own? Michael Phelps? The exposure on the PSP webcast alone is worth 1/17th of the USPL.

Anonymous said...

Honestly Paul the problem is that pro teams were jumping ship from event to event in the USPL. Even the investors weren't convinced that the league was going to make it past DC for a while this season.

I know that the PSP isn't much of an investment since you own nothing in the eyes of the league, but the USPL you can't help but feel like an investor in the Titanic 2.0

Baca Loco said...

I was trying, in part, to divorce the readers thinking from the specifics of league identities and personalities--though I was obviously unsuccessful.

You may honestly believe one league is the "good guys" and the other league is the "bad guys" but the question is a cheap rhetorical parlor trick. My personal preference would be to play in a league where my time, effort, commitment and money had the potential to make something positive and lasting. Right now, in one league that's not an option and in the other league it's a crapshoot.

And the second question is a false choice. I would like to hear more on how the supposed value of the league translates into value for my team.

And it still may not but that wasn't the issue when it comes to teams that didn't show at one time or another.

Anonymous said...

"My personal preference would be to play in a league where my time, effort, commitment and money had the potential to make something positive and lasting."

PSP it is then.

In Professional sports, there are two sets of entities, the teams, and the league itself. Ownership of the two groups can overlap to varying degrees:

In the middle, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL use a franchise system where each team owns an equal share of the league and participates in some level of revenue sharing between the franchises, but even in those leagues, the Yankees make more than the Mariners.

NASCAR, F1, PGA, XGames, etc, the ownership is completely separate. The league is owned by someone(s), and the teams are owned by different someone(s).

At the other end of the spectrum is something like Major League Soccer, where the league owns all the teams.

Point is, league ownership has little to do with "making something positive and lasting". The goal of a Pro team should be to build the greatest value in their team as they can. You will build the greatest value participating in the league that gives you the most promotion, whether you own a piece of the league itself or not. Tiger Woods doesn't care that he doesn't own any of the PGA. Michael Phelps made mad bank off of the Olympics. The largest sports league in the country - NASCAR - is filled with teams making piles of money in a league they don't own at all.

Is it better to have a team that is worth twice as much in a league the team doesn't own, or have a team that is worth half as much that owns 1/17th of a league that is worth a lot less?

A Pro team would be foolish to participate in a league that provides a small fraction of the promotional power to grow that team's value in exchange for 1/17th ownership of that league.

Baca Loco said...

Ok "Anon"

Sadly you have failed to answer my previous question and instead have resorted to simple unsupported assertions based (apparently) on existing, functional professional sporting leagues and/or unique individual accomplishments.

Hello, since when was paintball any sort of professional sport?

How do any of those "examples" actually apply to paintball?

Please cite in practical ways how the PSP's "promotional value" translates to any team's benefit.

If all you got is hypotheticals and maybes you got nothing. I need something tangible.

(Btw, NASCAR is now and will continue to be in real financial trouble for the foreseeable future. Just saying.)

Anonymous said...

Team income in paintball comes from sponsorship and to a lesser degree sales and clinics. Sponsorship and sales and clinics are driven by exposure. The 'more valuable' league is the one that delivers the most exposure coupled with creating the most interest in the fan base. It all comes down to, 'Can your team move product?' Your team will move a lot more product if it is playing in the league that is more widely regarded as including the top-level competition, that is more widely regarded as playing 'the' format, that has top-quality live-coverage of the event.

Pro teams should be picking leagues based on value to the team, and most of the value to the team is promotional platform.

The difference between a really good swimmer, and a really good swimmer who makes tens of millions in endorsements, and the difference between a really good snowboarder and a really good snowboarder who makes tens of millions in endorsements is the Olympics. Because the Olympics delivers the audience that makes the participant valuable.

It doesn't matter how much of the league you own if nobody is watching.

Plus, in paintball, the leagues break-even or lose money. How is owning 1/17th of something that loses money a good thing?

anonachris said...

I seem to recall a previous post in which you demand "bring on more sports analogies". You're just getting what you asked for ;)

(don't those winky things just piss you off)

Baca Loco said...

Yes they do. Consider yourself banned. :)

Okay, now we're getting somewhere and I appreciate the effort. For real. But you're off base or perhaps just a bit naive. Granted your argument is logically consistent but your premsies are mistaken, about sponsorship and about promotional value (team popularity)and about how much freedom of choice a lot of pro teams actually have.

Ownership isn't about making money--not in the present anyway--it's about control.

Anonymous said...

Why do people think that putting Pro teams in control is actually a good thing?

Taking control away from the Pro teams is the best thing to happen to competitive paintball.

Anonymous said...

I heard (or read - don't remember) a rumor recently that USPL/NPPL plans to make the "owners" buy their spot again next year. Baca---have you heard anything along these lines?

Baca Loco said...

My reference in 'Brave New Paintball World: The Revival' to pro team "entry fees" was a reference to the plan to recapiltalize the league. It is, as I understand it, more of a capital call.
However one wishes to identify it there is talk of the pro teams putting in another round of money. To my way of thinking this is a potential problem however on at least two counts; 1--Dogs want in and are willing (apparently) to buy-in but if their cost is less than everyone else's are they getting the same share? And 2--there are teams that didn't fund their original buy-in so what happens with them in round 2?