But you could be doing decreasing concentric circles around the deep end of the pond that is Paintball. Of course I'm not a doctor and I didn't spend last night at a Holiday Inn Express so it's just an opinion and not a diagnosis. As for the rest of you lot--If you missed it I'm referring to John Amodea's editorial in the August issue of X3. (The link is the title.) He closed his editorial by asking his readers if he was crazy and I thought why bother with the traditional letter to the editor when I could as easily respond here at VFTD.
The premise is that major leagues (and much of the rest) of competitive paintball is in decline from its peak years in the middle of the last decade. So far so good. I think we can all agree that actual numbers of participants is down and the numbers are significant. Beyond stating the obvious and giving a nod to the bad economy--this is where things go off the track--the following paragraphs attempt to make the case for why using some dubious assertions and some outlandishly inaccurate variations of the conventional wisdom. For example, fields are shrinking, as are the bunkers and guns are going faster than ever. The last time a tourney field shrank it was by five feet and as a result of Dye buying the wrong sized carpets for the PSP's LA event in 2006. As for bunkers tall cakes and regular cakes are bigger and more playable than the blocks they replace and I don't recall carrots and wingnuts being particularly large or comfy props back in the day either. And none of those claims post date the high water marks for tourney ball anyway. So if they are contributing factors now why weren't they during tourney ball's peak?
Beyond the suspect claims the principle point seems to be that most players can't play at the highest levels. Another revelation. Of course they can't--and they never have. If he really means the majority can't compete at the national level in any division that's just plain silly. They can and they do. Offered in conclusion is the easy peasey solution of lengthening the field and making sure there's a big Home bunker for the old, fat (slow) guy. Why, do that and we're halfway home to the good old days.
Okay, maybe I am being (overly) harsh and it isn't (quite) that bad but it does seem to me that the whole editorial amounts to little more than nostalgia and a retrograde conception of what the game ought to be. It does, however, lead to an interesting dichotomy worth exploring and does lay a (creaky) foundation for asking some important questions because--despite any real editorial clarity it is observably true that the competitive demographic has skewed younger. And at least with Race 2 the game is more physically demanding. But it's also true that there are hundreds, if not thousands of registered competitors no longer competing at the national level for reasons other than the physical demands of the format.
From a practical perspective the real issue is how to sustain major league competitive paintball when the old model of tournament operation is on the verge of failing. Answering that question is far more important than worrying about who is playing and who isn't. Neither league made money during their peak years.
In addition, the fact is there's plenty of alternative tournament and competition paintball options available for much less than national level play costs and none of them show any signs of replacing the current standards. The potential exists more so today to play virtually any kind of paintball you want than ever before.
Beyond the practical the answers to the following will set the path for the future: Is the game's competitive future to be found in its past or is the answer to keep moving forward? Is the movement towards being a sport unsustainable? Is the transition into a sport necessarily going to remake the game as it's played competitively and narrow, at least for a time, the number of devoted players?