It's on! Sometime today, in all likelihood, the NPPL will be announcing the coup that will bring former NXL Commissioner--and current PSP Pro field supervisor--Tony Mineo over to the NPPL. It is rumored that some number of the support staff and referees (from the pro field) will also make the move. If this at first seems like a response to the PSP hiring of Tom Cole, it isn't. The NPPL seems to have convinced itself that Tom was "stolen" away from them by the PSP. Just like the PSP "stole" Camille Lemanski away from them last year. It isn't true. In either case. Tom quit. The antecedents of Tom's decision to leave the NPPL date back at least to the DC event last year. And the NPPL wasn't paying Camille her contracted salary when she left--and hadn't for some months. (Look, I don't care if everybody denies any or all of this. What else would you expect?)
This move, timing aside, was originally considered as a way to resolve reffing problems in the NPPL given that the general consensus has been for some time that the PSP's pro refs (and staff) were the best in the business. Cole's move may have precipitated the NPPL's push to make this happen right now but it isn't or wasn't a new idea. It is rumored that the NPPL has not only offered Mineo a pile of cheese but also an ownership stake (better get that in writing, Tony) and autonomy in organizing and overseeing the officiating of NPPL events. It is rumored but unsubstantiated that part of the deal was to pull as many of the PSP trained refs over as possible.
As a practical matter this is apparently a lucrative deal for those making the switch and will almost certainly improve the quality of the officiating--at least on the center court field--if enough of the PSP refs also make the move. As a business move it may or may not make sense. That will depend on what the real dollar numbers are and whether it has any impact on NPPL participation (and/or the league's reputation.) It is an effort to purchase competence in an area where the NPPL was weak. It is also certainly intended to be a PR coup as well. And lastly it must be seen as an attempt to weaken the competition.
Will it effectively change anything? Time will tell. The NPPL fields are different with some key different props. None of those making the move have any experience organizing and running the Millennium style of play. And neither Mineo or his staff developed or trained the refs initially. At this point it's a grand experiment.
The existence of two major leagues has been a sharp debate in recent years and whatever else anyone thought of either league they offered, between them, more options for the players. Those days are ending--at least with regards to these two particular leagues. Intended or not this move by the NPPL is a declaration of war and it won't be over until one or both of the current major leagues is finished. It would behoove the players and teams to think long and hard about what they want and what they hope for in a major league paintball future and decide accordingly. Except of course the paintball half life of too many making such decisions is so short they won't (and don't) know what is potentially at stake. As VFTD as been saying for some time it is the industry that will have to choose--and it is no longer a choice they can put off. Choose wisely.