VFTD has touched on this topic before. (Is there anything new under the sun?) And it's one I've been giving some more thought to lately. My view has long been that one of the big disconnects for competitive paintball in the last decade or so has been the loss of a lot of adult players who are/were in the prime position to take over bringing up the next generation. When I began playing the average player age was older than it is now--at least on the tournament side of paintball. Younger players were more often than not brought into existing teams and mentored by experienced players. In the transitionary years post 10-man NPPL 1.0 (Pure Promotions) initially picked up the older skewing demo with their 7-man format but almost as quickly began to lose them. Meanwhile Xball pushed the demographic younger and younger and pushed out a lot of the older players used to a different--dare I say more sedate?--format. And in the process broke the 'natural' team-formation process. Experienced and dedicated adult players on teams looking for new players or breaking away from old teams looking for new players. Fathers and sons. Older brothers and younger brothers. New to paintball kids hanging out at fields looking for opportunities to get into the tourney scene frequently had opportunities.
Okay, but isn't that same process happening today? Sure but not in the numbers it once did. Then there's the school of thought that would attribute losses to the grassroots team-forming structures to the loss of a lot of fields and field owners who got into paintball the business because they loved playing the game--often to the detriment of their business when it came to starting and funding tournament teams. And I'm sure there has been some of that as well. The bottom line is the typical Race 2 player is a teen-aged male and they aren't in a position or generally capable of organizing their own teams and leaning how to play the game. The next generation needs experienced older players to once again take up the roles they used to perform in the grassroots process of building tournament teams or something else needs to take their place--and this is where the paintball club comes in. The well organized and properly run club could not only be a stable source of teams but also a sustaining anchor in the local tourney scene and a way to maximize the available experience and talent, both in leaders and players.
Consider this an introduction to the subject. I'll dig a little deeper next time.