Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For the Good of the Sport

We still don't have a definition except in the broadest terms and even those terms aren't agreeable to everyone. But maybe that isn't necessary. (Maybe it is. Who knows?)
Anyway I want to offer y'all an analogy by history. The history of American football to be precise. Played irregularly, often as an annual event, at a handful of eastern universities beginning in the 1830s it developed into a club sport (in a few places) as a game that was either mostly soccer or mostly rugby and the rules didn't begin to form the unique game of football until the 1880s. The impetus for those changes was a university football conference organized by 8 schools including Harvard and Yale. By 1900 there were 43 universities playing organized football. The forward pass came into vogue around the era of the first world war but the forward pass as we know it today wasn't part of the game until the 1930s. From its origins to the present rules and equipment have changed but the form of the core game hasn't changed much in the last 75 years. Of course it took, at a minimum, 50+ years to reach that point.
Which perhaps begs a certain chicken and the egg type question: Which came first, the game or the organization?
Meanwhile alternatives to the current loose association of mostly industry types and influential leagues (which are mostly owned by or tied to) more industry types are split between player organizations and federations (of some sort). The principle virtue of either one appears to be they aren't what we presently have. (Here's where I play Devil's Advocate for a moment.) What exactly makes a player's union--on any scale--a better choice? What is the collective wisdom of the players? And does simple participation in the game validate their view of where the game should go in the future? The same of course applies to any federations. Which are not democratic but representative at best. Where do the candidates come from? And who is permitted to vote? If the pool is sufficiently exclusive aren't you just exchanging one elite for another?
Now if the real purpose is some divesting of power and control from industry--over their dead bodies and/or corporate bankruptcies--into other hands I understand the motivation. And I'd probably agree in principle that was a good idea, but--
A) It's one thing to suggest an alternative, it's another to demonstrate why it's a better choice, and
B) A different idea is swell but the nuts & bolts of how it can actually be accomplished is the important part.
While I an not opposed to any of the "comments" suggestions or similar ideas that have made the rounds in the past neither am I convinced any of them necessarily lead to a better future than the track the game is presently on.
As a former card-carrying anarchist--nobody carries the card anymore--if I thought blowing stuff up and starting over was a viable option I'd light the fuse. (And it isn't like I haven't tossed a bomb or two in my day.) The thing is though I'm not convinced there's enough structure erected yet to bother tearing it down. I'm also beginning to think the process inevitably will take the time it takes no matter how many attempts are made to fast track this or invoke TV for that. Or any of a number of other means of making "progress." Does that mean that people who are interested in the development (dare I say growth?) of the game should just sit quietly on the sidelines? No but maybe it means investing more thought and less emotion and accepting the fact this is likely going to prove a much slower process than most of us want.
More next time. (Oh yes there will be a next time. Bounce this post all you like. There's nothing you can do to stop me. [cue evil laugh])


Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, the analogy is fine, except.... if Football started today, it would not take 50+ years to get organised.

Modern society and communication acts much faster than things did in the 1800s, and modern population is used to a level of organisation and professionalism in sports, that was not existent in other sports until post WW2.

So, while I understand the logic behind your analogy, I do not believe it to be relevant for paintball in 2012.... paintball could shape up really really fast, if the right people got together and got it done.

Now, who those people are, how it should be organised, etc. - Is a whole other and much more complicated debate - I agree.

Reiner Schafer said...

Modern communication can aid the evolution, or it might hold it back. Today, anyone that wants to voice their opinion, can do so and we all know there are many people that feel the need to do so.

Society has also changed. No longer will the little man blindly accept what those with (seemingly) higher authority tell them. Everything is torn apart and debated in open forums. To an idealist, this may sound like a good thing, but in reality, the constant debating and bickering can stalemate proposed change.

Competitive paintball in it's first 25 years changed much more than American Football in its first 50 years, no doubt. But most of that change came about due to technological advances. That oblong stuffed pigskin didn't change all that much in the first 50 years I bet. If paintball technology had not changed and stock class pumps were still the only thing available, I bet the game would have evolved much differently (although I have a feeling it would still have evolved onto small symmetrical fields).

But yes, if the right people come up with the right idea, then modern communication can aid in it's fruition onto fields. Look at how quickly Italia's idea made it onto fields all across North America and variants all across the world.

The big problem is still, in my opinion, the game that people can afford to play is not the game that current players want to play. Any changes trying to be made to a game that is more affordable is met with a lot of resistance (because it changes the game from what players would ideally like to have) and instant communication will slow down and halt (maybe forever) that necessary evolution.

In the old days, one or more visionaries may have seen what needed to be done, made the hard decision and the necessary changes and everyone else followed along, perhaps somewhat grudgingly, but still followed along. Those days are gone. The common person feels they have power, control, and choices now (which they do), so it is much more difficult to get things done.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I actually think Xball is fine, in terms of being a format for the masses (yeah, with longer turnovers, lower paint consumption, etc..... but essentially the same format).

Either way, that is way off topic, and have been covered at length elsewhere, so I better stop :D

Mark said...

"What is the collective wisdom of the players?"
I lol'd at that. Present company excluded of course ;-)

Oh and Nick,

The Empire State Building began construction in 1930 and was completed 410 days later, the Freedom Tower began construction in 2004 and is still going 2789 days and counting.

Missy Q said...

In a very early draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones carried brass knuckles instead of a bullwhip.

Just saying, if we're going to talk trivia, let's include Han 'indie' Solo.

Mark said...

Originally they sought Tom Selleck to play Indy, and Han wasn't yet cast for the roll as he was busy doing carpentry work for George.

Never try to out geek a geek.

Baca Loco said...

My further point is that most of the solutions to the current set of problems--whatever those might be--simply shift decision-making to a different group and I'm challenging you and anyone else who wants to take a crack at it to make a case for why some alternative to the way things are now is or will likely be better.

Baca Loco said...

Really liked the whole Empire State Building factoid.

Anonymous said...

If football was played 'right' by the established rules of the day, it would be called rugby. Part of the innovation of football is that people were playing by whatever rules they wanted to, then when teams got together, the preferred rules were used.

Would a more rigid organization aid in the evolution of the game by pushing changes out to everyone quickly, or would it hinder the evolution by stomping out new ideas quickly?

Anonymous said...

Until actual athletes start playing, it's not a sport. It's trending that way. But not there yet.
And to say we've been a sport for 25 years is crazy. We've only had players who could reasonably be called athletes for the past 10 years.
I challenge anyone to name even 5 pro players from year 2000 or before that were athletes or even remotely athletic.

Mark said...

"I challenge anyone to name even 5 pro players from year 2000 or before that were athletes or even remotely athletic."
Easy Peezy: Nobblet, Spud, Poopy, Leds, & Renick. Booyah!

Nick Brockdorff said...


I know that any system of governing, will inherently have elements of nepotism and corruption... and to some extend, money will always talk.

However, I still believe a system founded on democratic principles, will better govern the sport.

By "better" I mean "best represent what the participants want".

Some may have entirely different views on what "better" means ;)

So, ultimately, I would like paintball to be organised by local clubs, which elect their own board, from their own members.

Those clubs then belong to regional or national (depending on the size of the country) federations, who elect their boards from appointed representatives from the clubs.

An international federation, would then have a board, elected from appointed representatives from the national federations.

It's not entirely different to how most democratic societies work, and while the system has flaws, it tends to work better, when dealing with limited areas of responsibility (in this case "the sport of paintball").

I know such a system is alien to most american sports, and as such, would be very difficult to put in place.

But, in Europe, most sports are organised this way, and have been for well over 100 years.... and it seems to work fairly well in most instances.

By the way, such an organisational form, would make paintball an easy shoe in, for participation in the Olympics.

We surely have the numbers for it... we just don't have the organisation.

None of this precludes industry involvement or privately owned leagues.... all it does, it put things like "game format", "field kits", "field layout rules", "game rules", etc., in the hands of the players.

I am quite convinced, paintball is very far from being ready for what I suggest.... I am just saying that - to me - it would be the ultimate dream in terms of organisation.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Ledz & Renick "athletes"?


- though Ledz puking up last nights beer and curry, prior to every game, certainly proved his dedication :P

Reiner Schafer said...

Coming up with a universal definition for athlete is on par with coming up with a universal definition for sport. ;-)

Reiner Schafer said...

"We surely have the numbers for it... we just don't have the organisation."

What we have at the local level, at least in many areas, is a bunch of lazy slackers. ;-) What also seems to be the case in paintball, at least in some of the areas I am more familiar with, is a dislike for one another (mainly team vs. team, but also on a more personal level). I suspect this has something to do with the fact that we are shooting projectiles that can hurt at one another, rather than many other team sport that are somewhat more "gentlemanly". There seem to be a lot of grudges held in paintball. Trying to get the local bunch of hooligans on the same page would prove to be difficult, although with the right people talking the talk, it might happen.

There is also a general cultural change that seems to be happening where all organized sports seem to be in a decline. This has been ongoing for a couple of decades now at least. My thoughts on this is that the average person has less free time that they are willing to commit to not only playing organized sports, but also committing time volunteering to help those sports run smoothly. We're not in the 1950's and 1060's anymore. People want things now and they want them handed to them. And when they are done, they want to walk away and not have to worry about anything. That's the culture our players grew up in. Please don't ask them to do things that aren't fun or don't provide direct, instant gratification.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, I think athlete has to be defined in the loosest possible way in paintball.

Yes, at the top of our sport, everyone is an athlete, but if we make the sport all about them, what we are left with, is what you see in football, where nobody except professionals play, after they leave school.

That works, if we want to be purely an entertainment industry for spectators, and manage to get on tv in some way, shape or form - some day.

Paintballs great strength, is that anyone can play, and even play at the same level (to a certain point), age and gender notwithstanding. That is our niche - very few other sports have that, and rather than moving the sport away from that, we should focus on it and build on it.

The more we make the sport about purely athletic ability, and the less it becomes about gamesmanship, shooting and tactical ability, the more we kill the sport.

I'm not saying we should entirely remove the need for athletic ability, but I am saying we need to balance that ability out with others, that are also important in paintball (or has been so far).

We are dangerously close to tipping over the edge (if we are not over it already), where anyone who is not a prime athlete, will give up and spend their time and money doing something else.

When that happens, we become a sport for kids - and a few starving professionals struggling to make ends meet, because neither industry, nor media, has a market that justifies paying professionals well.

Anonymous said...

Democratic elections? Player unions? Regional, national, and international representatives? You mean a bureaucracy! Ya that's the ticket!

I really believe having only one league and taking baby steps from there would benefit the "idea" of paintball the most.

Otherwise starting a federation with clubs and more leagues is just fragmenting what's already fragmented.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Everything has bureaucracy - even dictatorships

Anonymous said...

Who would fund this bureaucracy?

Nick Brockdorff said...

All clubs have membership fees, so does federations.

It's no different than paying what you do for your PSP or MS ID - you just pay a different entity.

Nick Brockdorff said...

- who do you think fund other federations? - certainly not industry or privately owned leagues!

Lets not use FIFA or whatever as example, because they have extensive media revenue.

Look at sports like Fencing (the old school version of paintball ;)), or Field Hockey, or other marginal sports... their bureaucracy is funded exactly the way I suggest.

I know it's alien to most americans, because most your sports are so school based at entry level, but that is not the case in most of the rest of the world, where the american model seldom works, exactly because of the lack of school leagues.

Christian said...

You've made one the classic interwebs blunders. The first is never go up against a know-it-all paintballer when death is on the line, but the lesser known one is you might as well have posted a grammar critique of another commenter containing erroneous grammar of your own.

When you threw down the gauntlet and declared your Nerd bona fides by passing on an urban legend that you subsequently mangled and created a parallel universe of misinformation, I felt I must speak up, as one, who while not laying claim to being an uber-nerd, confesses to being somewhat nerdy.

Harrison Ford stared in American Graffiti (by George Lucas) 4 years before Star Wars. He did indeed move away from acting to become a carpenter. He was working on the set while Lucas was casting roles for Han Solo, and Lucas had Ford read some lines as a stand-in and decided Harrison would be perfect for the part.

You are of course correct about Tom Selleck, who auditioned and was ready for the part of Indiana Jones but Tom could not get "release-time" from his contract for a new show called Magnum PI to film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So Lucas, went Harrison Ford, who was already famous as Han Solo by this point and most certainly not doing carpentry work anymore.

Kneel before Zod.

Missy Q said...

Oh Snap!
I hope to be as far away as possible when you two fight for the title of 'Ultimate Nerd'

Missy Q said...

David Prowse, a weightlifter from Bristol, played the role of Darth Vader on screen but the voice was that of James Earl Jones. He was so convinced the film would be a flop, he refused to allow his name in the original credits.

Do I get Geek-points?

Missy Q said...

Due to the limited budget the American cast members and crew (including George Lucas) all decided to fly coach class to England, rather than first class. When Carrie Fisher’s mother Debbie Reynolds heard about this she called George Lucas, complaining about how insulting it was for her daughter to be flying coach. Carrie Fisher was in the room with George Lucas when he took the call, and after a few minutes asked if she could talk to her mother. When George Lucas handed her the phone she simply said, “Mother, I want to fly coach, will you fuck off?!” and hung up.

I thank you.

Mark said...

Uh, Christian my ommission of the details you so galantly included was more due to not wishing to clutter up a friends blog on a subject a long time hence and a galaxy far far away. ;-)

Then again we are talking Federations and Bureaucracies under the guise of democracy and Nick B. is seemingly heading this rebellion against the evil empire, I'm reminded of the words of a great warrior, Admiral Akbar, "IT'S A TRAP!!!!!"

Missy Q said...

To destroy the Evil Empire Nick would have to shoot a paintball directly into Kee's Continuum Transponder. To be honest that's no more difficult than shooting swamp rats back on the farm in Tattooine, although he'll have to battle 2 giant Nordic Aliens and 6 hot chicks along the way.

Baca Loco said...

The fact you asked negates your point scoring potential. But you have a clean slate if that's any consolation.

Mark & Chris
Live long and prosper.

It has just occurred to me that your preferred model for moving into the future almost guarantees you'll never get to 8 bps.

Nick Brockdorff said...

In the sense that if you poll the current playing populace, a vast majority would be against lower ROF?

- They can already afford it (or they would have left), and are generally a very selfish bunch of people.

If that was what you were getting at - I agree fully.

However, a federation structure is only a representative democracy, and as such - just as in other sports - policies and rule changes can be passed, without having to ask every member at club level.

Secondly, a severe lowering of ROF could easily happen at entry level only, and then be staggered upto Pro level, where they can play 15 BPS for all I care.

The top division is not important in this connection, as they can afford playing irrespective of paint consumption.

But as you look down through divisions, paint consumption becomes more and more of an issue, both in terms of cost, and in terms of how the game is played.

The key to a federation structure, as opposed to a corporate one, is that the mission statement will be about the players, rather than about money.

What is best for the players, is then ofcourse a question of politics and philosophy, just as in any other representative democracy.

Anonymous said...

You want to save the players money by taxing and taking their money to make a representative, democratic bureaucracy? Which is also not about the money?

I'm lost. Need more Star Wars analogies.

Reiner Schafer said...

There is no free lunch, however..."clubs" purchasing paintballs at wholesale or near wholesale levels and then selling them to it's members at those same prices (or maybe slight markup to cover some of the costs) will result in players getting paintballs as cheap as they possibly could (with the exception of those that have "real" sponsorships and are being supplied with paint for free or below real wholesale cost - but we know those players are few and far between).

It doesn't matter which system is being used, in the end, the players are paying for everything, one way or another. Players can pay and make sure the industry is making a profit and using some of that profit to run things for you, or players can pay the clubs and have them run things. As long as there are checks and controls in place (watchdogs), it will be cheaper for the average player.

Nick Brockdorff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Brockdorff said...


Oh well, I guess all the other sports in the world are wrong then..... They should let Adidas, Nike, or whatever run their sport instead.

Or maybe we're "special", so we are the one sport that can't organise ourselves in a way, that most any other sport has used for 50-100 years :)

The notion that paintballers could pay the equivalent of a box of paint to their local club, per year, is so far fetched that it is laughable.

I see now..... you are right :)

Nick Brockdorff said...

- not to mention the fact, that federations get government subsidies, in most countries, and so does clubs from local government.

- and that a federation structure is key to becoming a bonafide sport in the eyes of governments and sports organisations, like the IOC.

But let's stay the way we are, and let them spend that money on all the other sports instead.

Missy Q said...

Nick, while I know you're not a woman, you definitely argue like one.
I often let my wife win arguments, not because she's right, but because the energy I would need to expend to prove she is wrong is not worth my time. Plus, if she thinks she's right who really cares? It won't really make any difference in the big picture, and maybe she will shut up for a while and let me concentrate on more important things, like beer, and the Zombie Apocolypse.

Missy Q said...

FYI - Missy's Zombie Arsenal:

1 Katana sword
1 Springfield XDM 9mm
1 Police-issue pump-action shotgun
1 x Sniper Rifle w/8x scope
1 x Claymore
1 x baseball bat
1 x Toyota Tundra (king cab) w/ all grill options.

Nick Brockdorff said...

We can agree on one thing Owen..... I don't really care what you think either - nor do I think it matters :)

Missy-Q said...

See, I knew you were going to take it all personal and make me feel bad...

My Mrs does that too.

Now you just have to deny me sex, and then you might as well come move in.

Baca Loco said...

I hearby declare Missy the winner! Of whatever she likes and as the recipient of as many VFTD points as she can carry in her Tundra.

The subtle point Missy was making is that sometime--oftentimes--less is more. You've made your case and repetition isn't going to convince anyone who is presently unconvinced. (Besides your target audience shouldn't be other commenters.)

Missy-Q said...


Anonymous said...

I liken Missy as more of a douse of cold water bringing us back to reality.

Mark said...

For the record I'm not a trekkie, nor a Superman geek, I am a Star Wars aficianado. I do not kneel before Zod. I do not live long and prosper. I am but a simple nerf hurder. Scruffy looking at that.

Oh, and Missy you can trade all that in on a boat. Zombies can't swim. I gotta spot picked out on the inter-coastal water way, where they'll never get me. Think Spoil Islands babe.

Oh, an Tattooine cannot have any swamp rats, it's a freaking desert hello?!?!?! No swamps. They're wamp rats and I own them with my T-16 back home.

Missy Q said...

Oh, you're good. It would be an honor to battle the undead with you. Sorry about the typo too, no idea how that 's' got in there, must have been preoccupied with trying to create a sweeti movie mash-up post..