Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Prize Conundrum

There was a rather modest (in numbers) yet boisterous resistance from the online community when the PSP modified their prize packages prior to the start of the 2010 season. Mostly from the affected lower division teams (players) who were seeing their possible winnings reduced or removed altogether. In hindsight it's perhaps worth reconsidering. Did the change in prizes offered affect the turnout? Most of the "lost" numbers--in the Race 2-X categories--compared to last year came from the lower divisions so it's not an unreasonable question.
I've also heard a disgusted mutter or two over the D1 prizes at the recent NPPL HB event--largely for the same reason; there wasn't enough of it. The deficient prizes (according to some) the result of two completely different approaches to the subject.

Btw, I'm going to avoid standing with one approach over the other as I have, at different times in the past, argued in favor of both approaches and find merit in both--for obviously different reasons. Consequently I don't have a dog in this hunt but it's a topic worthy of some time and consideration.

The PSP has decided that mediocre play shouldn't be rewarded and that prize money should instead go to motivating teams to improve, challenge themselves and advance if they want to win prize money. (For the record the PSP doesn't claim lower division play is mediocre play--that would be me--and that's not intended to be pejorative, just descriptive because I don't grade on a curve and my standard of excellence is ridiculously high.) In essence the PSP is saying that your entry entitles you to compete and if the league chooses to award prizes it's a bonus, not a given. [That's my take anyway. If an accredited rep of the league would like to offer a clarification we's all ears and I'll include it in the post.]

The NPPL 3.0 discovered last year that simply offering set prize purses didn't bring in "extra" teams for the most well-rewarded divisions (and while even higher prizes might have the league couldn't afford the ones on offer given the number of competing teams.) Teams that "know" or believe they can't compete at a certain level or against certain teams are almost always correct and when they don't think there's a chance to win the big prize they settle for the next available option. This year they modified the prize structure to reflect the number of teams participating in a given division and to encourage more upper division participation have graduated the percentage of entry fees returned as prizes so that the higher the division of play the greater the percentage returned. The result in HB was a much smaller payout in D1 compared to last season because the teams just weren't there.

Has the PSP gone too far? Will the lesser numbers of upper division teams in the NPPL see further erosion as the season goes on. What should be the purpose of the prize packages? Is it a participation bonus or should it be merit based? Can it be both?


Anonymous said...

NPPL 3.0 uses a prize package that is more conducive to running a profitable business. You can never give more prize money away than you get in entry fees. This is how all other recreational sports (that I know of) do it. Sometimes you may have a sponsor put X dollars into the prize so you know the minimum will be that, but most prizes are based on participation numbers.

On the other side, it is nice knowing what you are playing for in the PSP. It is also nice that the higher divisions get better prizes.

They are both valid options.

If the NPPL takes off, there could be some very large prize packages based on the % of entry $ formulas.

sdawg said...

Most recreational sports do not offer prize money at all. Where did this idea that you should get prize money for winning come from?

J-Bird said...

on a side note: the cfoa just announced they will not be giving hardly any prizes as well.

He said...

To paraphrase someone I have a tremendous respect for: "a continued drive for pride and respect will supersede any monetary prize or shiny trophy."
Funny that it comes from the top, when the bottom keeps screaming for more Benjamins.

Players have bad habits, difficult to break. There is an "I" in Paintball; I just wish there was a "Team" too.

anonachris said...

The lack of prizes must definitely have an impact.

Perhaps the peeps in charge forgot what it was like to be a kid or younger player dreaming about winning, wondering what you're going to win, etc.

No I'm not saying the people compete for the prizes. We all dreamed more about shooting up a bunch of people, and rocking the field more than some gift certificates or a shiny autococker. But we also all made secret plans for what we'd do if we won.

Once you take that prize away, it's almost like a subconscious insult.

You don't buy a kid a happy meal for the toy, but if you're buying the food. But if you don't get a toy you feel pretty cheated.

houdini said...

@ sdawg most amateur sports don't cost as much as paintball to compete in. I've played 30+ years of amateur basketball and have spent more on paintball than basketball in less than 2 years - not counting the hospital bills from basketball injuries :(

Even if half the teams in lower divisions have no hope of winning they still have the same aspirations as those playing in higher divisions and they still would like to feel that they are being rewarded for their efforts, much of which trying to collect the cash to actually play rather than physical effort. I know organizers have problems trying to encourage teams to move up divisions but that problem should be addressed by the classification system or by some other discounted registration incentive for teams that move up divisions or for teams that play x amount of events.