For years the voices of discontent in competitive paintball have wanted to tear down the status quo--because, as we all know, anybody can do it better until they have to, you know, do it. Me included. (But unlike the rest of y'all I'm always right. It's a burden really.) Much of that discontent is (was) predicated on a myth. The myth of by the players, for the players. A hundred years ago (give or take) the pro kids and some of the ams threw over Lively Productions and decided they could run their own events better. Sound familiar? And they like to think they were serious about "by the players, for the players" but it didn't take long before most teams paid to play and a small group of teams/industry types were running the show. Until the falling out at one of the cow pasture on Poinciana Boulevard World Cups over strippers and alcohol. (Sorta. It wasn't as awesome as it sounds though.) Next thing anybody knows there's a second league and we're playing 7-man, 10-man & xball and the two leagues are chasing TV millions. Which ever way you turned industry was inextricably linked to the major leagues.
Anybody remember vending under the bigtop at Paintball World? Most everybody on site as a vendor had table space under one giant tent. Even as the bigger industry players began to set-up individually by they're sponsored field(s) the majority of smaller industry figures continued to share the big tent. As recently as the first couple of years at Disney's WWOS there were big tents with canvas dividers for the smaller vendors. As the scale of the competitions expanded in the explosive growth years so did the vendor displays--from the big guys custom big rigs to the smaller players expanded efforts to differentiate themselves and build their own brand identity. In the same way the top teams were flush with sponsorship dollars so to the major leagues with industry support and participation. And then, all of a sudden, the fat years were done. And as the cost of competition had risen for the pro teams the vendors, large and small, had justified spending more and more money to make money--until, all of a sudden, the fat years were over and the vendors were in a similar predicament to the pro teams--as were (are) the major leagues.
Various incarnations of the NPPL have come and gone. The PSP survived with some extra cash infusions. The one constant the shrinking share of support the league(s) can count on from the paintball industry. What once may have been around 50% of their income has been reduced to a fraction of that today. That is the new major league reality. And with this reality comes opportunity and danger. The opportunity is to get out from under industry influence for one. No money, no influence. To break the old patterns but in order to do that the league(s) must find ways to sustain themselves without the industry's money. The NPPL has discovered that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better or more profitable. The PSP has begun to see the scale of their operation as a very mixed blessing. Success in the new reality offers independence, too. The dangers are there's little to no room for error. It's a high wire act without a net.
For those who want lower entries and bigger prizes and are positive the leagues are flush and greedy--you are so far disconnected from reality I doubt there's anything I can say to convince you otherwise except you're doomed to disappointment. Those things aren't going to happen. For those who just can't wait for the current major leagues to crumble take a moment to consider what replaces them. What replaces them? Seriously. I'm curious. Do you have any concrete ideas or are you just mentally masturbating over how great it will be to get rid of those guys? What the leagues needed all along was independence and wise leadership. Circumstance has delivered their independence. The big question now is are they up to the challenge?