If you've been hanging around the VFTD watercooler long enough this post will seem like deja vu. (Come to think of it VFTD's second birthday was a few days ago.) During that first July I spent a lot of time on the "lost" D1 players and I've replayed that record since then, too. A couple of things in the last week reminded me that, despite changes, not much has changed.
In prior posts I tied the lost players to the misguided classification rules. Those rules were changed--for the better--and yet, lost players is still an issue. Players from a well known high profile Florida team that fell apart recently (and unexpectedly) are trying to put the pieces back together. Part of their motivation, besides a desire to compete, is the realization that if they can't compete at the major league level they can't compete at all. At least not in Florida. Of course money is an issue too, always has been and always will be and the current state of the economy is affecting a lot more players than just the players caught in the classification pinch. This is also the first year of the PSP's affiliates rollout and while progress has been, and is being made, it isn't all sunshine and lollipops. And some of the grey clouds attached to the silver lining continue to be classification related issues. Those aren't so much wrongly classified players but the recurring tensions that occur as all leagues feel the pinch and the need to do everything they can to accommodate as many customers as possible. [Sports have players but paintball leagues need customers and the two categories don't always line up evenly.]
There's the rub as it applies to lost players. It's a helluva time to try and sort a fully realized, vertically integrated sport out of tournament paintball. I don't know any proponent of competitive paintball who doesn't want this to happen--or something quite like it--and if this effort had coincided with the good times I think it would be an established reality today but that's not where we are. The higher ranked the player becomes the fewer the options that exist for competition. Those options often include higher costs along with a more fully developed and complex organization in order to be competitive. At the other end of the spectrum the affiliates are torn between upward player movement pressure, enforcing classifications and the lack of competing upper divisional teams in a process that frequently breaks up existing teams.
The sport demands a legit classification system. The leagues need players. The timing is brutal but it is what it is. Competitive paintball needs to keep as many of its adherents actively involved as possible. But how?
Tomorrow, a couple of new ideas.