I know, I know y'all are waiting for the next post featuring what you want and I continue to be hung up on this pro division stuff. What can I say, that's kinda how this blogging thing works.
There have been a number of excellent comments under the first post that warrant expanding on this topic. The intent of the first post was to make clear that some (more) changes are coming to the Pro Division and open a dialogue on just how to resolve some of the immediate concerns and perhaps lay the groundwork for resolving future concerns.
But first a brief history lesson. Once upon a time at the dawn of the Xball era the pros played 2 twenty-five minute halves of paintball per match. That decreased to twenty minute halves. To Race 2-9 and finally one twenty minute period or Race 2-7. All those changes were made ostensibly to benefit the teams and in an environment of ever shrinking sponsorships many of those changes were probably necessary. But they were made necessary not by any changes the teams chose to make but by changes initiated by the league(s) and/or industry. During that same period the characteristics that defined a pro paintball team changed as well, expanded. Before long it was necessary to have coaches and other staff personnel. Training and practice were also transformed and in every instance the cost to compete kept rising. Over this same period a number of Pro teams have folded and the number of pro competitors has fluctuated, sometimes event to event. Throughout this evolution the league has dictated change and in essence demanded pro teams adjust. The upshot today is a handful of independently financed pro teams, the demise of the factory team and a significant minority (or small majority) of self-sustaining teams defined by their tight budgets and (frequently) struggle to be competitive.
My point? Simply that all the teams are subject to the decisions made by the league and that none of us have any recourse except to quit or be part of another league. Okay, my other point is that the present PSP formula works now because there's no money in it--and the PSP does the best job of delivering tournament paintball. Every effort the leagues, teams or industry make into turning competitive paintball into a sport that generates some cheddar exacerbates the natural tension between the business and the sport. The problem is the PSP is a business pretending to be a sports league. (Just like all the others.) (And why the Euro effort to lay the foundation of a real sports federation spearheaded by Laurent Hamet actually matters.) As a business the league doesn't want anyone without a stake to be in a position to influence league decisions. I get that. But any success the PSP & the PBA have in finding a formula to monetize competitive paintball will be built on the pro division and the pro teams. Somewhere in there the relationships have to change or the Pro teams become nothing more than toys in a PSP sandbox.
In the meantime decisions will continue to be made. Some of the big industry players are known to prefer a 15 team pro division. And in an ideal world so would I but what if the league decides the only way to accomplish a 15 team pro division that works for the PSP is to make Pro Race 2-5 or go to 16 to accommodate all the supporting sponsors even though it would mean moving to 3 prelim games? (That is a prediction by the way.) Even if everyone hates it and objects strenuously, so what? What's anybody gonna do? What can they do? The PSP says it understands but that the decision is in everyone's best interest in the long term. That still leaves the teams with no idea just what the long term looks like or what if any part they might play.
How 'bout an association of pro teams? There's no power going it alone but if 8 or 10 of the current Pro division were to act together ...