I want to revisit Thursday's post and expand the scope of the commentary. It has long (for paintball) been an article of faith that money will fix everything. While it's certainly true that money would fix a few of paintball's problems no one seems to have given much thought to what new problems would arise--and there will be plenty--if significant amounts of money enter the world of competitive paintball. And I don't mean a resurgent player base that starts buying truckloads of new gear. That's just business and while it would benefit the industry it's not what people mean when they imagine the mainstreaming of competitive paintball and the cascade of accompanying cash.
Let's begin with divisional tourney ball. Cui bono? (Who benefits?) Not them. Let's say the league begins to generate some outside of the paintball industry revenues; nothing spectacular but a sufficient wedge of cheese that it eases the necessity for the industry to sponsor the league. While that is good for the league and potentially good for the independence of the sport there is no guaranteed trickle down to the divisions. And for those of you who prefer your abstractions as concrete as possible let's assume we're discussing the PSP for example. A modest outside revenue source stabilizes the league so that's a positive for everyone competing and intending to compete in the future--you have a somewhat more secure place to compete. And if you favor the working plan to regionalize much of divisional play over the longer term via the affiliates network and streamline the national circuit you might consider that a divisional benefit. (The VFTD non-official understanding of the concept regionalizes say D3 [or even D2] down so that each region contributes its top teams to World Cup each year for a true championship. Of course the affiliate program isn't restricted to North America so it is conceivable that teams representing all parts of the world may one day compete.) While the league has gone forward laying the foundation for the affiliates the problem, revenue-wise, of how the league gets from its current model to the modified model has limited progress. The new plan with PBAccess offers the possibility of a solution.
In one scenario there's enough outside money to advance the plan to build a real grassroots to World Cup unified competitive paintball as sport, but what if a lot more money than expected were to begin rolling in? Does the plan move forward or does the deadweight get discarded and left to others to reorganize? (This is, btw, the same question I asked in the early days of NPPL 1.0. If the league had successfully brought pro paintball to TV why would they keep running tournaments for all the other divisions? If TV or anything like it ever works who doesn't follow the money and focus on keeping it coming? Under any circumstances a change in fortune for the league makes no promises to the divisional ranks.
But what about the featured teams? Surely this is would be good for them, right? Maybe, maybe not. Let's start again with the modest revenue stream that reduces or obviates the need for industry sponsorship. Again, it's good for the league and its indepenence, but... Back in the days of the NPPL 1.0 when everyone was convinced the mainstream (and all its perks) were right around the corner that league touted success for the teams in terms of the opportunities exposure would bring. Being on TV would allow them to go out and develop their own portfolio of sponsors and income. Which doesn't sound half bad until you realize that as a team you are not only competing against the other teams for those sponsor dollars you're also competing against your own league for sponsor dollars. And that no agreements exist aimed at maintaining league parity or stability. Or that once the contract is signed by the league your individual team becomes superfluous. (Before the deal is done it's the teams that validate the league but after the deal is done it's the league that validates the teams.) So imagine here we are with the PSP seeing a modest revenue trickle beginning to come in from the PBAccess webcast. Perhaps at first everyone is happy and supportive. But it won't last. It can't last. At some point the featured teams will begin to ask, What about us? And that day everything changes.
Maybe the league says, we're not making much or say what about you? We're the ones who made this happen, invested the time and money, took the risk and the reward for success should be ours. And if they were selling cupcakes or car parts I would agree unreservedly but they aren't. They're selling competition between an inclusive group of teams who can make the case that some part of the league's success accrues to them because they are the ones drawing the audience--and the audience is everything. And the teams will also say we have spent years of our lives, made sacrifices and spent plenty of money as well. How and when is that impasse resolved? Odds are (should it ever come to pass) that it won't be solved any more than mainstream sports have ever solved their conflicts but some sort of temporary agreements will have to be made and the window in which to make them opens when outside money starts to arrive and closes once the league de facto controls the identity of competitive paintball as sport.
The object of raising today's hypotheticals is simply to remind the (seeming) majority that more money in paintball isn't likely to be the universal panacea they seem to think if for no other reason than human nature.