I'm talking about the broadcast today (in some areas around the country) of the 2010 NCPA A Championship featuring Drexel vs. Long Beach State. You got the email, right? Did you DVR it? Are you curious? Do you feel like you sorta have to watch in order to be supportive of paintball? I feel your pain. Take a deep breath and relax. I watched it so you don't have to.
Here's the thing. It wasn't horrible. It even had some good qualities. It integrated some paintball education in bite-sized, easy to swallow nuggets. It provided enough basic information without being deadly boring to give non-ballers a framework for watching. It had big name stars like Matty (the voice of paintball) Marshall, Ollie, Pony and Florida's own Rocky Cagnoni behind the microphone(s) and in front of the cameras. It even had Patrick "Monkey with a Gun" Sporher doing his best to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. (The production didn't have the resources the PSP used to make the hopefully-only-on-hiatus webcast.) The problem wasn't the production values (slim as they were), it wasn't the talent, it wasn't lack of expertise, it wasn't a failure to put the pieces together. Good, smart, creative people did their best with the available resources. The problem was it was a paintball show and despite the best efforts of all those creative people presentations of tourney ball have yet to capture the intensity, grit & action of the game. The fundamental weakness remains the struggle to put the play of the game into a suspenseful and recognizable narrative that tells the story of a match, point by point. Even so, if you're a fan of past paintball programming this will not disappoint. It just doesn't advance the ball any (not that it was supposed to.)
Here's a suggestion for next time. One I don't think will add great expense but might help improve the game vibe. The sounds of the game. Loud. Let's hear some blazin' guns. Players screaming info across the field. Refs shouting for eliminated players to leave the field. Coaches on the sideline. I know, it's there now but it's mostly background noise. Not a part of the play of the gun.
End result: the show is a worthwhile primer of tourney ball for those already interested but inexperienced--and even then, the sooner they get on a field and play the game the better. Oh, and congrats to Drexel. NCPA A division champs for 2010. And runners-up Long Beach State who did it the hard way.