This is less about the totality of the event than some of the odds and ends that interest me--or had an impact on me and/or the team. If you're hoping for a blow by blow on the showdown between Frank & Ollie I'm going to disappoint you. Sounds like it was awesome theater but I didn't see it. The same goes for the call? (or non-call) that brought an afternoon of sniping to a head. (Apparently.) But I do want to discuss officiating.
[Disclaimer: our results had nothing to do with the quality or lack thereof of the officiating. We earned our result. The fact that the reffing has been mediocre at best really can't be disputed. It's so blatantly poor even Stevie Wonder sees it.]
I was supposed to spend two or three hours Thursday afternoon with the refs and league officials with the goal of instituting guidelines and a methodology for dealing with run throughs, bunker moves and the like--along with some other general suggestions. Needless to say it didn't happen. Our flight was late leaving Tampa and bags were lost in transit--and then there was the rush hour traffic we were caught in due to all the delays. As it turned out however many of the refs were missing too.
I was looking forward to having the opportunity to make a difference and hopefully help the refs and improve the results. Today I'm less interested in bothering. Not only wouldn't all the refs have been present but it appears there's more amiss than a logistical failure from both sides. A ref I know was fired last year for cause and bias was working in Chicago. I'm told (from within the fraternity of refs) that many of the best are fed up and unwilling to return. In part it's the pay but it's also internal cliques and favoritism--and a lack of real authority from the top. And if you're wondering if I'm not risking some sort of retribution the truth is I'm not sure how much worse it can get. You see, the league rep, who didn't make it out of the prelims, decided my guys are cheaters and directed the refs to watch us with extra diligence. Targeted purposefully is about as bad as it can get, I think. (I've no intention of naming names or calling out other players because I'm not interested in starting a feud or tearing anybody down but the fact is there is little or no hope of ever getting the officiating under control when the league rep in charge can use the refs to satisfy his personal whim or vendetta.)
If the league wishes to use my ideas they have them, in writing, and can implement them anytime they like.
Otherwise I'm informed there's a lot of excitement around some ideas Pev has for the league. Hopefully they will include the reffing and be better than the blindingly inane chatter between the VIP DJ and the roving microphone that was supposed to be energizing and entertaining. (I must confess tho that when Pev repeatedly called the available bbq "off the hook" I found his wooden hipness very amusing.) If Chicago was an example of what the future holds I'm not sure it will include paintball. NPPL's Facebook page was far more fascinated by the bikini contest and results than it was the actual competition. Just the sort of innovative thinking that drove past incarnations of the NPPL outta business.
Last year the two events, Living Legends & the NPPL tourney, were separated by the main parking lot the vendors on a gravel lot and the two tournament fields beyond that. The vendors were sorely disappointed the scenario crowds failed to make the trek to check them out. This time around the vendors were mostly in one of the main parking lots with the paint trucks and the two tourney fields on patches of grass adjacent to the gravel lot. The grandstand field had turf over gravel along the snake side of the field as the grass patch wasn't big enough for a whole field. Neither field's grass was mowed. I don't know if the vendors fared any better this year but compared to last year the venue had a more makeshift, temporary feel about it. (And from the parking used I would guess the turnout for Living Legends was probably down, too.)
I overheard part of a conversation (during breakfast at our hotel one morning) about venues that was interesting. Particularly in light of the seeming fact that this just past NPPL event got about as much paintball media attention as the typical Millennium Series event get's in the U.S.--which is to say damn little. Three of the league's four venues struggle to pull 75 teams including Vegas. (If my count was correct there were 54 non-Pro teams at Chicago.) The suggestion was that the NPPL put an event in Canada because 7-man is still strong in western Canada. The potential drawback is getting gear into Canada and the need to get passports. But hey, Impact does it all the time, right? There's also talk of combining the NPPL Vegas event with the WCPPL final. If that happens the size of the event will double.
On a more positive note it's a good thing for the pro division to have some different teams coming to the forefront; Legend in HB and now Uprising in Chicago. The more parity the league can produce the better--if the league can take advantage of the potential for heightened uncertainty and drama. Time will tell. We've got all summer to wait to see what comes next.
For those wondering there will be a special Tuesday edition of The Monday Poll later today.