Another detour before returning to the subject of promotions. (Like you didn't know this was gonna happen. I am nothing if consistently inconsistent.)
Between the recent post, 'No Easy Answers' and the comments engendered here's what I'm thinking. The PSP is swell as is their Big Plan for universalizing player classification and creating a horizontal network of related (by format & rules) regional events that uniformly provide a vertical path (or ladder) of competition that culminates in an exclusive pro division. Terrific.
But it may still be too much. Regardless of division this is serious competitive paintball, top to bottom. (Despite dumbing the format down from xball matches to Race 2-whatever.) It's a fast paced, athletically demanding game aimed at a narrow, youthful demographic. Which again, is awesome when you're talkin' hardcore paintball as sport. But it also excludes a lot of paintball players. It may be it really does cater to the One Percenters.
At the other end of the spectrum is the newb and occasional rec player (plus some percentage of your average walk-on/scenario/Big Game types) who don't have any readily recognizable paintball skills. (Oh please, it's true and everybody knows it.) Could be they don't know any better but whatever--they enjoy playing the game the way they play it. It seems to me that leaves a lot of middle ground and includes a majority of paintball players--even pump players--who understand the rudiments of the game and either want to learn more or find more challenges within paintball without going to the tournament extreme. After all, wasn't that part of the point with the introduction of speedball?
Which is one reason why I'm all in favor of the (attempted) resurgence of woods-based tourney ball along with the crossover type events like the UWL or the SPPL. But even with those additions (alternatives?) there's still a big gap between that sorta paintball and what happens in the PSP (or the NPPL for that matter.) A few months ago I tossed out the idea of a mechanical marker tournament event in order to bring the competitive game closer to the typical paintballer. (And there's no reason it couldn't work and be a lot of fun except perhaps that nobody wants to do it that way anymore--although if they gave it a try I think it would change a lot of minds. Be that as it may--) The CFOA is experimenting with 3-man and pump only events are making a comeback. What all of these have in common is a tournament organization and a presumption of rudimentary paintball skills.
But what about the players who don't want to make the move into organized tourney play but want something more from their paintball experience than the same game they got the first time they played? There is a broad diversity of ways to play competitive paintball and I don't see why it should be the exclusive property of tournament competition. For example, not everybody who enjoys playing basketball plays with the same level of skill, natural ability or desire to be the best. But you don't have to be working for a college scholarship to want to play a more demanding version of the game than the one you play in your neighbor's driveway. And it seems to me that there is a largely untapped opportunity to provide competitive style paintball in a more relaxed, less organized way as an option of play at the local level. Every second Saturday might feature an informal 3-man "event" on the speedball field. (Or alternate months using a woodsball field.) No entry, no prizes, regular field refs, restrict as desired and let the players play. Just for fun. Sure, maybe it's a little extra work but not much beyond taking the time and making the effort to promote it to everyone who comes through the doors. (Yes, I know, there are fields that do stuff like this, just not enough.)
And of course there is one thing missing. I'll be covering that in the next post, Paintballl 101.