Saturday, November 24, 2012

Descent Into Mediocrity

The NPPL has (apparently) given the thumb's up to two new pro teams for the 2013 season. Both groups have posted their intentions on Facebook and the kids from CRU (to be called 'Crush') have a new thread in the NPPL forum on PBN. Which reminds me: What's up, PBN, no pro team forums yet for these guys? Where's the love? The other team will be backed by TradeMyGun out of Indiana. In the case of Crush they have a mission; "We look forward to showing the world what everyday players can do once given the opportunity!!!" The Indiana-based crew are (so far) keeping a lower profile. Will they too roster "everyday players" or recycle some old pros outta the Midwest or a bit of both? Who knows (and if I were feeling unkind I might add who cares. Seriously.) At this point it would be easy to tear down the new kids but I'm not going there. I'm far more interested in how the league is (mis)handling this and what the longer term implications are likely to be.
What's going on? Is the NPPL filling empty spots? Trying to get back to a 16 team pro division? What? If you look at the participating teams by event last year Vegas had fifteen teams by including Phoenix Contact and letting Heat play. If we assume Heat was a one off then there are/were 2 slots to fill to maintain a 16 team division. But then there are the past season and off season rumors of teams leaving the NPPL too? What happens then? And why isn't the league taking charge, being proactive? And what will be the result of making moves like this?
Best case scenario the NPPL is filling up to 16 teams. (Okay, real best case--least worse case?--would be to promote the best teams possible.) Why isn't the league controlling the release of information? If this is the best course why aren't they out in front of this making their case? Instead it's like stuff happens and the league goes, oh yeah, that's right. Whose running this league?
If the league also loses some pro teams these sorts of additions simply accelerate the division's decline and if the pro division becomes a laughing stock it reflects badly on the whole league.
Two teams from the league ownership's inner circle are (apparently) returning to the PSP. Whether at the behest of their sponsors or on their own the easy conclusion to draw is they need to be in the PSP in order to validate their pro status and/or to be a relevant pro team in the eyes of paintball fans.
Maybe the league doesn't have anything to say because they are embarrassed by the whole thing too.

31 comments:

NewPro said...

Thats quick coach, than you and I dont want this comment to be seen as bashing the NPPL. However, at what point does the term "pro" just not mean anything anymore. Is there no criteria? I mean it seems like such a joke to announce you are a new pro team. Not new as in Houston heat but new as in like Storage wars "texas". Maybe you can purchase a pro spot in the PSP but take the top 8-10 teams, you can bet they're pretty much going to destroy any newcomer. The tag pro should be reserved for professionals, its not a receipt for proof of purchase.

Baca Loco said...

I don't care what they think, NewPro, but then I have some prior experience. ;)

Dan said...

this may be a good time to discuss what makes a pro team "belong". the ability to fund it, or the ability to compete.
heat came in with the unique ability to do both... if you ask me if someone else foots the bill to allow me to compete in divisional play, so be it.

Baca Loco said...

Dan
I would never tell a player not to try and be the best they can be regardless of the bigger picture. Responsibility for the Big Picture falls on those with the power to effect the game.

Baca Loco said...

As to the belonging business the bottom line is being competitive or reaching a competitive standard, say, playing on Sunday. Now in order to do that a team must have the resources and staff and players to train properly, learn from their mistakes and improve as they go along, staying hungry and motivated. At that point I guess the open question is how long do you give a team to either become competitive or give it up? Most either quit or repeatedly revamp their rosters--until they too quit.

NewPro said...

I know we hate comparing PB to other sports but there should be no issue comparing the framework of their "pro" division versus ours. Yes, if the league has an opening, you can purchase a spot. It is acknowledged that most expansion teams aren't going to win jack shit for at least 3-4 years and have to rely on either free agents or a strong draft program. Unless teams want to live a life of mediocrity (which leads to no fans and no revenue), they develop strong programs. That being said, forget about the revenue side but focus on the player side. These are not unskilled players unable to compete at the pro level. These are highly skilled kids out of college, high school etc or free agents who have proven their skill on other teams. Not a bunch of weekend drinking buddies. It may take years to become competitive but the difference is the ability of the players to compete. I realize the almighty dollar is the current ticket to stardom but I would rather see a smaller pro div than a watered down top tier. If you need to bump your # of teams up, stick them in D1. If the only way you can entice teams to play your league is to offer them a top spot, there is something wrong with your model. Whether we like it or not D4->D3->D2->D1->PRO. I know this isn't the route everyone or anyone save a few has taken in the past but this should be the model. Great, you signed up, paid your money and played a year of the league and became the whipping boys for the top echelon, now pack your gear up and head back to the rentals and brag for the next ten years you played pro.

Anonymous said...

Let's have a little fun for a moment and imagine that Crush win the second or third event. does that make the NPPL a laughingstock or the whole sport? Maybe it just means those players were up to the task? As they/we say "Any given Sunday..." What happens when its their Sunday?

Baca Loco said...

Anon
Yes, okay and "Any given Sunday" doesn't mean if they let Ball St. into the NFL they might win a game much less a Super Bowl.

Anonymous said...

I'm an optimist...sue me. My point still stands...what if they do decently say place in the middle of the pack. Doesn't that make the whole system seem illegitimate? I'm not saying they will...but by giving them a chance, should they do well, it all becomes a joke.

Baca Loco said...

Anon
I agreed with you the first time. Yes, it would make the NPPL a laughingstock and cast a shadow over the rest of the "sport"

Anonymous said...

Baca what do you think the PSP will do to counter this move? Will they follow suit?

Anonymous said...

Counter? You mean get out of the way?

Baca Loco said...

Anon 12:35
Counter a spiraling descent into mediocrity? IDK, maybe send Chuck a few congratulatory emails encouraging them to expand their pro division to 20?

Nick Brockdorff said...

Isn't it, by now, commonly accepted (even amongst teams that play NPPL) that the NPPL is a lower grade league than PSP?

If so, is it really of consequence that the pro division is of lower quality?

I mean, there are plenty of leagues around the world with a "pro division", that come nowhere close to the level of the PSP pro division..... so why is the NPPL pro division that much of an issue?

NewPro said...

Nick,
The court of public opinion is still undecided for whatever reason. NFL, is the only pro league, no exceptions.I believe part of the problem is the top tier teams playing both leagues. The patriots dont play in another league thus giving it a face of legitimacy.

Question: Does the NPPL running events have any effect on the PSP?

J.Stein said...

Not sure I agree, NewPro. I think all but the real shaved-headed fanatics have realized the NPPL is not on par with the PSP, either as a league hosting events or in terms of the quality of play at the top. The NPPL doesn't bill itself as either. The NPPL's claim is that it is "player owned and player run" and, by extension, more in line with what players really want. That's the claim, anyway (and at least as I understand it).

Nick Brockdorff said...

I have the same understanding as Jeff Stein, and while I might take issue with it being called "player owned" if it affected me directly, I understand the marketing idea behind the statement ;)

One just have to get to terms with "player owned" meaning "owned by people that play paintball" - not "owned by the players of the league" ;)

Anonymous said...

As the dialogue has changed to this, it brings up a question.

Who does own the NPPL? Does anyone actually know? Nick, Jeff, Baca?

And for that matter, who owns PSP?

Serious question. Any answers?

I've always been curious about the NPPL's claim/suggestion that the league was owned by the players. Is it true or not?

J.Stein said...

The PSP is owned by a partnership that at one point included Jerry Braun, the Gardners, Rennick Miller, Paul Sattler, I believe Gino Postorivo and, of course, Dave Dehaan. I'm not sure who of them remains, but Dave is the de facto owner, if not the outright owner, and calls the shots (or empowers Lane to do so on his behest).

The NPPL is owned by a composite of teams who "invested" and assorted individuals, such as Chuck Hendsch. Again, this group may have been culled down from its largest number, but I wouldn't know the details of that. As for who calls the shots, I couldn't hazard a guess.

NewPro said...

So if its common knowledge that PSP is the accepted "pro league", is this battle of positioning merely something created by online commandos. It seems to me that if you play D1 or Pro in one league, you wouldn't like to have your pro status devalued by a competing league billing itself as the standard of professional paintball.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I don't think anyone is getting their pro status "devalued" by any stretch of imagination. - If anything, that is only something they perceive themselves.

I think that for the great majority of players today, PSP Pro is the outright benchmark for quality of play, while the NPPL has dropped to MS level, if not in fact below it in most peoples eyes.

You might very well start to see teams opt out of the NPPL to go play overseas instead, especially as it makes more sense to play 5 man events only, rather than both 5 man and 7 man.

And for those that do not have the budget for travelling abroad, there are plenty of affiliated leagues of the PSP to play in.

Anonymous said...

If one were to round up everyone who thought they were an owner in nppl and put them in a room together and ask them to agree on who owned how much of nppl, it might be some time before anyone came out of that rom alive .

Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head owners I can think of are Chuck, Frank Connell, Rich Telford, Mike Peverill (plus Valerie?), Jeff Trainer (Ian Trainers father?) anyone care to add to that list or an estimate of who owns what percentage of shares/portion?



Just found this link after typing what I speculated, but it seems not all the names in the link are owners or are still with the teams noted or the league.
http://www.nppl.com/news/183

Baca Loco said...

11/27
Beginning with Anon 12:20

League ownership: PSP. Jeff is close enough though some of the names have changed. Were I to be more specific death squads of Alabama Rednecks would hunt me down.
NPPL: Again Jeff is in the neighborhood but if or when push comes to shove there are (or were until recently) some serious irregularities involved. (And, no, I'm not going to explain.) The owners group has devolved into a defacto inner circle when it comes to "running the league" and it would be hard for anyone outside that group to know with any certainty who the surviving "owners" are today.

NewPro--the important battle of the leagues happens behind the scenes among the sponsors.

Anon--
NPPL owners. Start with Bart Y. At the beginning of NPPL 3.0 it is rumored he floated the buy in to at least two of the guys on your list. So are they *real* owners or not? And you can discount Chuck and Pev. They are there to look pretty. There is a short list you left off.

For those who find my answers unsatisfactory I agree with you. My problem is that offering too much detail would potentially reveal other facts and I'm simply not going there.
If people really think some measure of transparency in the leagues ownership structure is important make a real effort to get it made public. If you're just curious, I don't blame you.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a conspiracy. Maybe someone from sup air owns part of the nppl, and is forcing the technical snake onto psp to make the nppl more enticing?

J.Stein said...

That's a joke, right?

ThisISPaintball.ca said...

Didn't this happen in 2011 with Uprising joining the Pro ranks? Everyone gave them slack for buying into the division but the did earn a bit of respect after placing well in Chicago. While I understand no one wants flood gates opened and any person who owns a marker to land in the highest rank in the sport. Not being rude but the Contact games in Vegas were rather sad at times to watch. On that same note some of the Heat matches were also sad to watch with no offense to either team. Just because funds are available to sign a group of top end players or even just throw together a group of players who have worked hard for a long time and this might be their only chance to compete at the highest level available at the end of the day you have to be consistent and earn the respect of being in that group and the only way by doing that is by winning, being professional and of course by reading VFTD.

Baca Loco said...

TIP.ca
Excellent advice. :)
It's not the fault of the teams and players looking to fulfill their dreams, it's the league's failure to either recognize or care or both what the impact of letting one untested team after another into their pro division.

ThisISPaintball.ca said...

While I agree the onus is with the league I also think that having rules set out which can be bypassed by Pro teams while divisional ones have to abide by them makes any league more of a joke than allowing untested teams to join the Pro brackets. This is mostly in regards to paint requirements and how that impacts divisional teams sponsorship and use of team sponsors products and budgets. While any league has to make income via companies who support them having the elusive rights for paint sales the whole system looks like a joke when the larger marketed teams (Pro obviously) can just use anything they want on the premise of if we don't we will not show up when it is the lower hanging fruit (divisional teams & to some extent those players who don't attend national events) which are more likely purchasing products from the industry directly at local stores and outlets at retails prices which is where the larger profit margins come from to support the Pro teams (aside from those wonderful outside of the sport sponsors/companies who back teams because they are either crazy or like players & staff enjoy the sport to much.) Also thought it would be worth noting that reading all of the old magazine articles might be something good for the both new players and the old crowd to do again to remember to not to make the same mistakes as in the past. (Not to mention there seems to be this one Richards fella who has some good articles) Haaa

Baca Loco said...

TIP.ca
Again no disagreements--just a minor quibble or two. The perception and stature of the league revolves around the perception of the pro division and it has reached a place where two of the most pro-NPPL teams have their sponsors trying to get them access to the PSP pro bracket. Not a good sign. That was the focus of the post.
It is also true the NPPL struggles in other aspects of their operation but in the case of the paint last year it wasn't altogether their fault. Procaps/GI, KEE chose to not be paint sponsors leaving Valken to carry the field. As I understand it an exclusivity deal was struck based on Valken's willingness to agree to a specific pricing structure. Everyone understood that some pro teams would be outside that agreement. At the same time the league isn't the industry tho they are often lumped together--for obvious reasons--but the league's responsibilities are divided between customers and sponsors. The baseline question is did the NPPL gain or lose customers because of the Valken paint deal?

ThisISPaintball.ca said...

I don't think the NPPL lost customers due to the paint being used but the lack of structure they provide for the amount it costs to play their league. Lack of consistent reffing, logistical nightmares of no tents/shelter for players to avoid the sun or rain and the worst example of scheduling ever actually waiting one hour because a team is not at the chrono area for their game (happened in DC) then delaying games again because of the weather.

The industry's decision to support one league over another is obviously the business decisions that happen but the threats of being instantly ejected from an event for using an "outside" companies paint while at an other the field it is being used without any issue is where it makes the sport look like nothing but a joke. The paint restrictions seem to not be an issue for 2013 but it still isn't clear if those "outside" companies will even show up.

I would compare the example of the decision of deciding not to return to the Millennium Series for Damage, the league had some major flaws the team tried it out voiced their concern and nothing changed so they took their business elsewhere. I would say that this is what many divisional teams did in 2012 with the NPPL and things never changed throughout the season (some would say they just got worse) so they most likely will support another league. They will have to try to market the league some way to make it show signs of growing so expanding the Pro bracket seems to be the route they decided upon.