Is not an excuse for failing to look for answers. It's a recognition of reality. In comments to The Monday Poll post this week raehl suggested uncapped semi-auto hopperball and Don (tongue in cheek, if not firmly) suggested no batteries equals true semi-auto. My purpose here isn't to dissect the merits of either suggestion but rather to point out two or three factors in play when we try to "solve" various of the presumed "problems" with competitive paintball using their suggestions as a springboard.
Arc of Development
James Naismith invented basketball but nobody sets up peach baskets at either end of the floor anymore. In fact the dimensions of the modern competitive game aren't always uniform depending on the level of play. And nobody playing football eschews the forward pass today because it wasn't part of the original game or utilizes the wing T formation much anymore beyond a few high schools--and even they may have moved on. My point is simple; the game is constantly evolving and it's difficult, if not impossible, to resist. MLB has held a line with wooden bats and NASCAR uses restrictor plates on some circuits but even well-established sports aren't immune.
Arc of Technology
Much of the driving force behind changes in competitive paintball has been technology. (And behind the technology is the ever present desire to make a buck. D'oh!) While technology itself is neutral it easily and often outpaces our ability to consider the end result. Producers are looking to profit. Ultimately the players, collectively, decide if it's something they want or not. Sorta. In the long term. In the short term the balance can be tipped to favor the producers. And thru much of competitive paintball's short history that has occurred because producers also controlled the competitive game. Including the rules. And as technology has bumped up against the rules it is the rules that have changed to accommodate technology with, as far as I can tell, virtually no concern for the outcome. However, (for whatever consolation it might be) regardless of how some might choose to apportion blame within this process changing technologies are an unavoidable factor and will eventually find a balance between the producers and the users
The Will of the Players
Despite the fact most of you are sheep y'all eventually get around to only buying and playing the brand of paintball you really want to. Mostly. For purposes of this post that means the 13 year old who kinda sorta wants to play tourney ball doesn't want to play hopperball or some variant of low ROF. And it doesn't matter if he only thinks that's what he wants. And it's not some PBIndustry conspiracy that there are high ROF Spyders & Tippmanns or tons of DMs and Egos out in the woods. Players are buying and shooting the guns (goggles, packs, hoppers, etc.) they want to. Sure the choices have limitations but as long as there are choices players will do what they want--including quitting playing paintball.
Nothing Happens in Isolation
Decisions are like dominoes, one leads to the next--whether it was the intended next or not. So what about raehl's uncapped semi-auto hopperball? If it's an answer what's the question? How many players per side? What size field? Is there an age component? Is it a beginner's format? Have you ever tried shooting a high ROF electro with a real gravity fed hopper? It's like owning a Ferrari and being unable to leave Manhattan. My point isn't to nit-pick the examples, it's to demonstrate there are no simple solutions. Why aren't Young Guns divisions with age restrictions more popular if ROF is the problem? Are there really too few players interested in competitive paintball or too few mentors and captains to lead and organize?
All the pieces of the puzzle must be accounted for. If you do it right there aren't any leftover pieces. Here's another example. Not a great one because I don't know enough of the details but I am intrigued by the CFOA's efforts to promote 3-man. Once upon a time 3-man was a staple local tourney option. It seems like a no-brainer for entry level play but what happened to it? Will the CFOA's efforts be rewarded? Is it being played with any restrictions? On Race 2 field layouts? Is it working or isn't it? Why or why not? The uncertainty surrounding competitive paintball these days can be a frustrating struggle--but it is also an opportunity. Just not one subject to easy answers.