This is a critique, not a criticism. Short history lesson: In the early months of this blog I likened the then UCP to Logan's Run and suggested the system (and the league) was unnecessarily driving players up and out of competitive paintball. Which was true. Since that time the classification system has been adjusted a number of times in ways that (intentionally or unintentionally) fell in line with VFTD's original criticisms.
In a recent post about Social Paintball I took them to task a bit for a contributor who simply regurgitated the old claim--first made here--purely to engender some controversy. It has since occurred to me that the system was tweeked again and that I hadn't reviewed in detail the latest changes and if I was going to give Social some grief over it I oughta make sure nothing major had changed. And nothing major has changed--but a situation that hadn't been addressed before has been now, sorta. That is the relative merit of a score received depending on the size of the division.
One of the score modifiers is # of teams in a division. Any number 10 and above doesn't modify the received score. For divisions less than 10 teams there is a modifier that reduces the overall score received based I presume on the idea that it's more difficult to win out in a bracket of 20 teams than it is in a bracket of 8 teams and regardless there is necessarily a higher likelihood of competitive intensity in the larger bracket. Conceptually I'm okay with that but where I think an issue exists is at the other end of the team numbers spectrum.
Given the current scoring system every team, other than first and last, receive a score that accounts for the number of participants--at least in part. For example in a division of 12 second place receives 92 points (rounded) while the same second place finish in a division of 8 receives 87 points. The # teams modifier goes further and will reduce that base score even further--which is okay--but that's not where the score inflation problem lies. Score inflation produces disparate values when the divisions get bigger.
Btw, the reason this is a critique and not a criticism is because, despite the score inflation, a quick crunching of the numbers demonstrates that, unlike in times past, this won't effect the upper divisions where the problems of the past primarily resided but it might have an impact on the lower divisions, principally D3 & D4.
Here's an example: 6th place in a division of 8 is 35 points (rounded); in a division of 10 it's 50 points & in a division of 20 teams it's 75 points. In a division of 30 teams 6th place receives 85 points. Each result is a 6th place finish but also results in a swing of 50 points between the lowest and highest score. Of course in one sense the swing reflects the degree of difficulty in arriving at that placement; 6th out of 30 is considerably more difficult--at least statistically--than 6th out of 8 and while I happily concur that's not the issue either.
The issue with score inflation is that the classification system determines a player's status based on multiples of a base score. If your division nevers exceeds 12 or 15 teams it own't ever be a concern. In divisions that routinely reach or exceed 30 teams it could be a problem. And when I say "problem" I mean produce a result where players are bumped up when they shouldn't be. Fortunately the present system has sufficient safe guards--and most D4 & D3 teams don't play a full season--so that score inflation alone shouldn't push players (& teams) up a division.
A simple way to address the issue would be to reconsider the size of the smallest max score division and adjust the reducing multipliers--or leave it as is accepting score inflation because most of time it probably won't be a problem.
(And of course it ought to go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway, I may differ with APPA on occasion but only because it is a serious and legit effort--unlike the revenue stream mockery used by the other national league.)