This isn't the next coaching post. Big shock, huh? Relax, I will get around to doing them, the other coaching posts, that is, because the topic interests me (too) so be patient. In the meantime I couldn't resist a follow up of sorts on the latest NPPL rumorology particularly in light of a couple of comments under that post.
Oh yeah, before I get started a counterfactual (for those of you not steeped in geek speak) is basically a What If scenario. Roughly the idea is to create a scenario based on a set of conditions that might have been or could still be. At one end of the scale you get alternative history novels and at the other end you get hypothetical models that are (theoretically) useful in thinking about all manner of complex situations. For paintball purposes we's gonna keep things simple and stick with the What Ifs.
In the Mr. Curious comments Joe suggests that no merger means the end of pro paintball. Joe's statement is predicated (I assume) on the notion that the industry support of the leagues has been shrinking for years and that elements of industry have been making noises like they intend to play hardball over this merger issue. They want one league and one league only. So Joe's comment seems to have some merit but--
What If one league makes a good faith effort? What If the industry isn't united? (And we know that it isn't.) What If a merger happens? What does it mean and what will happen in the aftermath?
What If one league makes a good faith effort and no merger results? I ask the question that way given the split on the NPPL board but we could as easily ask What If both leagues make a good faith effort and no merger results? Will the PB Industry refuse to support either league or any of the pro teams as a consequence? It seems highly unlikely. For one I think it's impossible to make the case that industry is united--which it would have to be to enforce a no support decision. Two, it's not in industry's best interest to offer no support. For example, KEE is believed to be doing well with their new Axe in part because of the number of pro & divisional tourney teams using the marker. And if the rumors are true KEE signed up a number of pro teams for a relative pittance of paint. The cost versus the potential return definitely favors KEE. So while the industry, or elements within industry, may be making hardline noises it seems unlikely it would actually happen regardless of the circumstances.
What If the PB Industry isn't united? I ask this as the follow-up even though I've already decided it isn't because it's important to see what the ramifications of that lack of unity might be. Let's say for the moment no merger occurs and the industry--or some key players--announce they will no longer support the NPPL as a result. (Insert PSP for NPPL if you prefer as it makes no difference.) How long before some element--Let's, for the sake of the example say, Oh I don't know, Valken--steps in and offers to support the league? Five minutes? How long after that before everyone else jumps back in out of fear of somehow losing out? The point is that without a unified industry elements within the industry will seek to advance themselves if the opportunity presents itself. The issue has never been two leagues; it's been a divided industry that is constantly at odds and unwilling and/or unable to formulate a policy with respect to tournament paintball and two national leagues. The merger matters to parts of industry because they want forces outside the industry to do for them what they can't (or won't) do for themselves.
What If a merger happens? Does it preclude the possibility of another league forming? No. All it really can do is limit or preclude the participation of any of the principles involved in the merger. Is that enough to merit merging? I don't know but if it were me I would be taking a very hard look at what benefits I derive from a merger. I would also be looking at how such a deal would be accomplished. (Rumor has it the NPPL isn't in any legal sense a formal entity. If true who does the PSP make a deal with? A dozen different individuals or teams? And how do each of the "owners" represent and protect their interests if the NPPL exists in name only? That's a whole other What If post all by itself. And a serious complication to a merger if true.) If the best we can say is that a merger unites the existing leagues and leadership but does nothing to limit future league formation and competition how much does it really accomplish? If a merger occurs will the industry all of a sudden start throwing more support at the new unity league? (If you said when pigs fly, you guessed the likely correct answer.) It seems to me the industry hardball line is all threatened stick and no carrot at a time when the leagues have gotten used to barely enough carrots to flavor a weak broth. Not a whole lot of incentive to make a merger work (or so it seems to me.)
What does it mean and what will happen in the aftermath? I'm not sure there any answers to those questions except to suggest that perhaps a merger doesn't solve all of competitive paintball's problems--it may only defer some of them--and it may create new ones. It doesn't mean that multiple leagues will never again compete at the national level. It doesn't even guarantee united industry support--though that may be the default short term result. Is that good enough? For anybody?