If you're confused by the title, no worries, it's a cultural reference to a kid's party game. I have no idea if it's even played anywhere anymore but it was when I was a kid. (Maybe when my kids were kids, too.) The idea is you put a large picture of a tailless donkey on the wall and give each child a turn at pinning a separate tail onto the donkey. The catch was you had to do it blindfolded and then you were spun around until you were dizzy and disoriented. Hilarity ensued. That's kinda how I feel about most of the efforts to "fix" competitive paintball. Even when the discussion is thoughtful and interesting--as it has been the last few days. We're outta the loop when actual decisions get made and the decision-makers are being tugged left, right and sideways desperately hoping they don't make a (nother) mistake.
The WC numbers I mentioned the other day don't prove anything. May even have multiple likely sounding explanations but what I want to do is try and broaden the picture of competitive paintball we're all looking at. In 1997 WC had 67 10-man teams. In 1998 there were 80 10-man teams. In 1999 there were 87 10-man teams. In 2000 there were 117 10-man teams. In 2001 there were over 180 10-man teams and in 2002 there were more than 210 10-man teams. This is the period of time Cup left the woods, moved to Hyperball, then Airball. Electropneumatic guns became commonplace. Xball was introduced and the NPPL split.
In 2003/2004 the PSP offered both Xball & 10-man. In 2004 the new NPPL was averaging around 170 teams an event. 2005 was the first year Xball was the stand alone headliner at Cup with only 77 xball teams & 247 5-man teams. In 2005 the NPPL averaged around 200 teams an event and by the end of 2006 Pure Promotions was looking to bail. (Rumor had it both leagues were losing money. These were also the days of the Race 2-TV.) 2006 saw 131 xball teams & 235 5-man teams participate. 2007 was the peak for xball teams at 160 with a 10% drop in 5-man teams to 212. 2008 had 138 xball teams & 195 5-man teams. (In Pacific Paintball's worst year they had more teams competing on average per event than the latest incarnation of the USPL/NPPL.) 2009 saw xball decline to its second lowest stand alone total of 125 along with still shrinking 5-man total of 183. 2010 had 134 xball teams while 5-man fell off the table dropping to 118. There's some facts & figures. Here's some more.
Bottom drops out on years of streaking growth as industry sales go flat. Fall of 2006 the PMI/NPS merger is engineered creating KEE. Jarden buys K2 in 2007 after K2 struggles with the paintball division it began putting together with the Brass Eagle purchase in what, 2003. By 2006 unification talks between the the two major leagues isn't a whispered rumor but an annual event on the end of season calendar as an intransigent industry demands action yet refuses to back one league or the other despite claiming dire economic consequences.
Since I'm running long I'll leave the analysis of the data to y'all--for now. And I'll pick it up again first of next week.