The final numbers are in for the 2011 season major league paintball participation. Back in July I posted on the mid-term--(Buy the Numbers?)--and while the numbers are correct I got it wrong. I predicted by the end of the year participation numbers would stabilize across both leagues and end up similar to 2010 numbers. As it turned out both leagues saw real numbers rise. Good for everybody.
Since my views are already pretty well known I'ma just give y'all the rest of the numbers and you people can fight about what it means, or ought to mean and what comes next. In keeping with prior practice I've left the Pro teams out of both equations. (Read the other post if you want to know why.) I've also broken the numbers down by format; 7-man teams compared to Xball Lite teams (even though 5-man in the NPPL doesn't directly compare to Race 2-2.) In four events PSP averaged 160 teams and the NPPL averaged 79 teams. [There is a discrepancy however. NPPL's team list for Vegas had (has?) 136 teams but after the event the league only ranked 103 teams in the various division rankings. They left out the new D4 7-man so I used the Team List number of 15. And then of course Mutiny was a no show which left Vegas turnout at a potential high of 135 to a low of 117. Similar discrepancies exist between the Chicago & DC lists and final rankings as well with the lists in all 3 cases being the larger number. The total plus/minus over the season is 33 teams. I used the rankings because those numbers reflect post event results and seemed to me more likely to be correct with respect to teams that actually competed. To be consistent I also checked both the APPA's paid list against PSP's ranking results and those numbers matched for each event.] For the NPPL it was a significant bump. Between 2009 and 2010 NPPL 3.0 only improved by four teams per event average whereas this past season the bump was up 13 teams per event on average (although virtually all the gains can be attributed to HB & Vegas.)
The direct format comparison saw an average of 53 7-man teams per event and 90 Race 2-X teams. That is an 7-man increase of 9 teams per event over last year. So of the plus 13 teams per NPPL event 9 were in the primary format. And the 90 Race 2-X is a decline of 3 teams per event over 2010 but the PSP more than made up that difference in Race 2-2. Much of the PSP losses in recent years have been from the 5-man ranks and the gains of 2011 were plus 21 teams (80 versus 59) over 2010.
So there you have it.
I would ask one question though. While I know the industry wishes for a single national league what exactly do the players who want one league think it will do either for them or for paintball? Riddle me that.
And just so the Eurokids don't feel left out--it seems one CPL spot is already up for sale and if this off season mirrors last year the MS will be scrambling to try and find teams. I suspect it won't be as bad--assuming the goal is to hold the line at or near 2011 team numbers--because the league had event limits in 2011 that were below 2010 attendance numbers (for the most part) and if the Euro trend is similar to the U.S. (which saw rising participation numbers) there should be teams to fill in the spots that might otherwise have gone missing from normal attrition. (It's a good thing too since the MS went far and wide last year scouring the east and all the distant corners of near Euroland for replacement teams already so that is an option that won't be available again in the near term.) Of course all bets are off if the failing eurozone economies explode the Euro and the whole things starts tumbling like falling dominoes.