I really enjoyed seeing the ProPaintball kids come out with a pro ranking but I was disappointed to see how little conversation it generated. Disappointed but not surprised. Half the fun of being a sports fan is talking about your favorite sport, the games played, match-ups to come, the players, sharing opinions and talking smack, standing up for your favorite teams and players and all the rest. It's happening around the clock, 24/7 around the world. Sports radio is huge. There's at least a dozen television networks dedicated to sports available from your local cable provider. Sure the bulk of the talk is about the big time mainstream sports but that's not the point. The point is guys and more than a few gals (that didn't date me much, did it?) really enjoy talking about sports. So where is the competitive paintball equivalent? By and large it doesn't exist.
I'm not sure why. Unless it's partly the fact there's no language for talking competitive paintball as sport. Most sports have statistics. Ways to compare teams and players based on various aspects of performance. Paintball doesn't. We have "What a killer!" or "He sucks." That and player name recognition and reputation based largely on video clips and articles from a now nearly dead media. And without a language for discussing paintball as sport it's that much harder to actually educate both players and fans about the game. (If that wasn't quite clear, yes, I'm suggesting even many of the players either don't know their own sport or at best don't know how to explain it.) And, there remains little connection between the "fans" and many of the current batch of pro players. There's minimal info about actual games played in competition. Little known about many of the players. Teams with no history--it's small wonder it's hard to figure out how to be an active fan.
Which is why I like Cade's effort to get folks to predict event outcomes for the PSP tournaments on PBN. It's a start. As are the assorted league partnerships with what remains of old media and some recently forged relationships with new media. And if somebody came up with a workable fantasy paintball that would be a big plus. (As were the webcast statistics when they existed. See, they had more uses than just flushing out the webcasts.) I've even suggested the PSP set up a booth and encourage people at the events to "gamble" on Pro match results using PSP dollars. There's lots of things you could do; donate the purchase of PSP bucks to local charity, vendors could accept PSP bucks at some modest exchange percentage to in effect offer discounts and encourage more on site buying, build up the interest in pro games, etc. In the meantime (if the gambling angle is too complicated) there's always a tournament version of bracketology. One reason college basketball's season ending championship tournament is such a sports happening these days is because everybody can fill out the brackets and guess at the winners of each game over the two plus weeks of the event. Newspapers and websites and informal groups at work or from the neighborhood award prizes or collect pots to give the winners. More people are more invested when they have a stake in the outcome. So how 'bout some PSP bracketology? Not only would it get more people actively involved in the results of matches played it would provide a sort of value added to the proceedings. And it touches on an element of how the major leagues can and should promote themselves that they haven't. (More on that soon.)
So what are you waiting for? Let's talk paintball.