No worries. There will be a new Monday Poll posted sometime today. So if you're on the verge of hyperventilating grab a paper bag--does anyone still have one of those?--and breath into the bag until you heart rate normalizes. Nice and steady. Thing is I'm traveling today so I split up the new poll and lasts week's review out of the kindness of my heart. Yeah, that right. And because I couldn't wait to comment on last week's poll; How much is paintball a part of your holiday gifting?
Do you remember that I confessed to having unconventional thoughts related to last week's poll topic? (C'mon, it was only a week ago. Jeez!) Well, I did. The tendency has been to rate the "health" of paintball directly to the sales figures of PBIndustry and while I understand the industry seeing things through that lens I don't think it's necessarily a particularly accurate assessment.
Were any of you surprised by the poll results? I wasn't. It was, in fact, almost exactly what I would have predicted--even from a self-selecting paintball active audience. (And if I had to guess I would guess some of you didn't participate because the numbers would have ended up looking even worse. You know, besides the lazy slacker thing.)
The poll from two weeks ago asked you all to self-identify your place within paintball and we pretty much had every facet covered. And yet, for 65% paintball purchases weren't a part of presents given or received. 2 out of every 3 players didn't give or receive a gift related to paintball. 15% bought themselves a paintball-related gift and 9% gave and received paintball related gifts. 5% gave a paintball gift and 5% received a paintball gift. And only 1% gave (or received) a gift valued above $500--right at the bottom range of the mid-priced markers.
So what does this poll suggest? That any minute now nobody will be playing paintball? Or something else?
First thing it suggests is that new product sales is a very important number to industry types but doesn't really tell us a lot about who or how many people are playing paintball right now. And when everyone is bemoaning the imminent collapse of paintball they are likely confusing a few issues. Is the established industry in potential trouble? Yes, but the industry isn't paintball despite the fact they seem to confuse the two regularly.
The something else goes like this; the numbers suggest there isn't a significant influx of new players and it's mighty difficult to guesstimate what the impact of the secondary market is--and whether or not there is a glut of second-hand product out there. And the poll itself might suggest that many players have most of what they need to play and perhaps even much of what they want unless it simply isn't currently affordable. It would be far more interesting and to the point to collect actual participation numbers on the ground from local fields. I don't doubt that overall the trend is down but down from what exactly? Down from the enormous (and unsustainable?) sales numbers of a few years ago? All those numbers really proved was that a lot of stuff was being bought. Was there a Golden Age of paintball or was that just another bubble in an era of easy money?