Tuesday, November 10, 2009

(Not Very) Musical Chairs

You know the game, don't you? The game begins with one less chair than there are players. The players march around the chairs while the music plays and as soon as it stops the players sit down on a chair--except the one player left without. That player is eliminated, another chair is removed and the music starts up again. The winner is the last player to sit down on a chair when the music stops.

Pro paintball has been playing musical chairs for awhile now and this is the time of year the music begins to play. But pro paintball musical chairs is a little different. The teams are the players and industry provides the chairs and chooses when the music plays--and stops. Of course there is some playing of the gray in that a team or two is able to sneak their own chairs into the game but the end result remains the same. When the music stops there are players left without a chair. Much like last year the haves and the have nots will largely be separated by paint. And it won't be tournament paint at issue, it will be practice paint. Unfortunately there is also a trickle down effect. The state of the current game demands certain levels of commitment in order to be a serious competitor and there are today, and will be tomorrow, bubble teams that may have "enough" resources to continue but not enough to compete. Those teams will be filling a space and they will soon begin to ask themselves if it is worthwhile. Is there a chance things will change sufficiently that next year or the year after might be different?

Unfortunately the leagues don't seem willing or able to address this issue. (Why should they, you ask? Because when the music stops and the game is over nobody will be the winner. That's why.) Industry seems ambivalent, unwilling to give up tournament paintball altogether but also unwilling or unable to support the creature they helped create. And too many teams continue to wallow and wait. Instead everyone is focused on survival. Sadly, survival is not usually a winning strategy. For anybody. Sometime in the hopefully not too distant future the leagues, the industry, the teams will realize things gotta change. This game of attrition won't satisfy anyone at the end of the day. (Been watching too much SportsNation.)

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