First up is the rules recap. (I'm doing this stuff first 'cus it's incredibly boring and dull and if I put towards the end of the post y'all would probably skip it.) Those of you with a masochistic bent will recall the VFTD post, PSP Rules Questions. In Galveston I had the opportunity to follow-up and receive clarifications of those questions. It was a good thing I did as the "rules" enforced bore no resemblance to the written rules. (Yes, this sorta thing is very annoying. Kinda like NBA refs giving the superstars a pass on traveling violations.)
Rule 3.1.2 states, "At no time during any team points or matches, may anyone communicate from the designated staging area to any Active Players."
Which may or may not be fine but wasn't the "rule" enforced in Galveston. The actual rule (mostly) enforced could be written as follows; Any action, aural or physical, including non-verbal sounds and gestures or patterned movements or the use of devices like signs that could be interpreted as an effort to communicate with persons on the field during the play of the game by any person within the staging area is prohibited.
Worse was the stated determination to extend an unwritten and personal opinion of "fair play" to the spectator sideline. The rules no longer address any coaching issues period. The rules for 2011 are blind to any notion or aspect of coaching. Given that fact there is no basis in the rules for deciding one thing or another is either allowed or "fair play." The claim at the time was that it fell under unsportsmanlike conduct but that's self-serving nonsense as well. Without a definition it simply becomes a catch-all that allows an ultimate (or a commissioner) to do whatever they want. I don't care who you are nobody has any business making up the rules as they go along. Or, for that matter, enforcing rules contrary to how they appear in the rule book.
(Do I treat this kinda stuff more harshly when it's the PSP than the NPPL? Yes, because the PSP represents itself as the league promoting paintball as sport and I take them at their word.)
By and large the field at Galveston played the way I suggested it would far too much of the time; slow & boring. Unless this was part of some masterplan to incrementally move the two competing national formats closer and closer until they are indistinguishable from one another it didn't do the PSP any favors either. Whether it's called xball or Race 2 the format was in a conceptual shambles at Galveston. Part of the issue was the longer field and part was the specifics of the layout chosen. (In leveling this criticism I am not blaming the field designer. Some of you may know who it is but I'm not naming him purposefully. In recent years he has developed a good general understanding and works very hard to provide new, unusual but still playable and entertaining designs--which isn't an easy task--and the new mini A's aren't helpful either.) The problem is juxtaposing the need for secrecy against the notion that including some added voices of experience into the process could be beneficial. Or it might not. I'm also unconvinced there are enough bunkers for the new field dimensions. Fortunately there's time between now and Chitown--oh, wait, we don't yet know, despite the rash of recent rumors, if there will be a Chicago event this year--to consider possible improvements to the process.
UPDATE: Harrass and you shall receive. PSP has posted info on the Chicago area event.
As a resort community Galveston is West Palm Beach compared to Palm Beach. For those unfamiliar with Florida Galveston is like the promise of The Strip in Vegas when reality turns out to be the million-and-one-lightbulbs of La Galleria de Jackpot on the east side of town surrounded by check cashing joints and RV parks. If that didn't do it for you think dinner at Denny's at Ruth's Chris prices. The event was held on a lumpy patch of ground with nothing to commend it other than the grass was decent and there was enough room for the fields. I understand the league is economizing and if you gave me a sheet of optional either/or choices to check off I would pick those that enhanced the competition every time over those that enhanced the venue--but that's really what it is coming down to. At events like Galveston there is nothing there to justify the time and expense except the competition. If the competition falters ...
Back to a few numbers. In the Day 1 & Day 2 reports VFTD noted that nearly 50% of the prelim matches in D1-D3 went to time instead of score. If D4 Race 2-4 was included in the total it would be well over 50% of all those matches went to time. Kick in the playoff matches and the total drops to slightly under 50%. While I'm at it I also want to object, on competitive grounds, to the way the pro division is playing out with a 10 team division. This time 4 of the 10 finished with identical records and will be ranked 5th-8th based on point differential despite not all of them sharing common opponents. I acknowledge that is the rule but it strikes me as woefully unsatisfactory for what is supposed to be the epitome of competitive paintball. Why not rock, paper, scissors to decide. A return to last year's formula would go a long way toward assuring each team earned their ranking and would create some added Sunday excitement.
I'm running way long so I'll save a pro team round-up until tomorrow. Y'all come back now, ya hear. (Oh, and can some kind-hearted Texan tell me when Texas decided to take the bone outta a T-bone steak and smash it round and thin? Two different, relatively high priced restaurants passed off the same sorry piece of meat as a T-bone steak.)