Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baca's Mailbag, Dec 4

A couple of quick notes. Yes, GI has in fact bought Procaps--and the deal is officially done. VFTD was supposed to receive an early copy of the official Press Release (which may still happen)--I foolishly agreed to delay posting in exchange for the presser--but it didn't matter as they proceeded almost immediately to leak the information, AGAIN. This time after having signed all the appropriate documents or at least while in the process of signing them. Let that be a lesson kids. It's one I'ma take to heart. Trust me. (As soon as I realized the cat was out of the bag--this time for good--I did post it on VFTD's Facebook page and will be commented on events of the day there during December.)
Mailbag questions aren't being answered in the order received. It's whatever happens to catch my fancy really. For example today's question provides an opportunity to compare the two major leagues and demonstrate, for the uninitiated, that I'm an equal opportunity hater.

I, along with others I'm sure, was wondering which format you think is better and why. I've been following for a while and can pretty much figure its not going to be the NPPL, but I guess I was wanting to know is what sets the PSP apart as being the premier league (if that is your position).

The obvious answer is Bacaball! (Excepting of course it's only suitable as an expensive spectator-friendly, sports-legitimizing version of competitive paintball that, er, nobody has actually played--yet.)
Between traditional 7-man and Race 2 the simple answer is Race 2 for all the same reasons you've already heard. The big one is of course that the outcome of a match is more likely to be determinative of which team was actually better on a given day. For me, sideline coaching or no coaching is a non-issue. Communication has always been a key element of playing the game and remains so whether or not someone outside the field of play is communicating or not. And for the record I do not believe sideline coaching has nearly the impact that is often attributed to it. (Although at the lower levels it can have more of an impact but that is directly related to the skill & confidence of the players.) But once you start talking about officiating and things like gun rules we're now in the territory that sets the leagues apart from one another.
In one sense the dividing issue for the players seems to be format preference. Which is fine. And if that were the only factor at play I would be (and am) fine with peeps playing what they like. On that count my issues with both leagues, heck, with all leagues, has always been they deliver the best product possible to their customers and since we're talking about tournament paintball "best" means a fair and impartial competitive environment in which to compete. That's my baseline. Everything else is an extra as far as I'm concerned--and secondary. Is it fun to have an unusual or exotic venue? In an unusual or unique location? Absolutely. Do any extras ever make up for a lousy competition? Nope. At least not from my perspective. Your mileage may vary--but I doubt it. In the past when various iterations of the NPPL clearly focused more on delivering an experience instead of a competition--apparently assuming the competition part would handle itself--they ended up in the unenviable positions of always having to try and top themselves and eventually couldn't, no matter how much money they spent. And it cost them on both sides of that equation. It cost them the experience seekers and the serious competitors.
On the other hand there's the path the PSP has followed. The league pays APPA for a registration system that actually works and has the potential to incorporate every tournament player at every level because it's a necessary feature of providing a fair competition. (Does the league still make a few bucks on ID cards? I hope so. I'd hate to think Chris gets all that money--but the point is one league has a real system, the other has another revenue stream.) The PSP pays a salary to the Head of Referees to travel around and train refs and oversee their on field efforts at events in an effort to maintain the highest quality they can manage. The PSP also pays extra for a dedicated crew of refs and their supervision on the Pro field. Is it less than perfect? Sure but the league is willing to spend real money to provide the best officiating they can. And anyone who has been around more than a day or two knows the history of the NPPL, in every version, is fraught with one reffing scandal after another--and not just on the outer fields among the lower divisions--but front and center on the grandstand field. The difference isn't bad luck. It's that one league makes a concerted effort to get it right and the other has different priorities. Same with gun rules. The PSP has clearly defined and enforceable gun rules--whether you like them or not--and as a result significant gun-related penalties are almost unheard of anymore. The NPPL, on the other hand, has a history of unenforceable rules, subjective reffing judgments, arbitrary penalties and widespread cheating. Today's NPPL 3.0 has at least capped their "semi-auto" so they have an enforceable limit (thanks to Virtue) while they continue to turn a blind eye to the ramping they supposedly don't allow. And then there are the rest of the rules. In the PSP there is a clearly defined hierarchy of authority in place to see to it the rules are followed. (Is everybody always happy? Nope, but that isn't the point of the rules.) In the NPPL the rules are inadequate at best and incomplete at worst and the Ultimate Ref's job seems to be making stuff up as he goes along. Does it matter? Most of the time probably not but it is symptomatic of the NPPL's routine practice of half-assing the actual competition while touting what a great job they do at growing and promoting paintball.
Bottom line is what sets the leagues apart in my mind is one is focused on the on-field competition and the other isn't--and never has been.

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