Sunday, November 11, 2012

PSP Pro Division Dilemma continued

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 ...


NewPro said...

15 teams in the Pro division....there's a reason why its one package of Kool-aid per litre of water.

And 8-10 pro-teams "getting" together, are you baca loco or Che Guevara? Inciting rebellions, this should get interesting, i'm going to grab my popcorn

Anonymous said...

You'd get the NPPL. Amiright??

Anonymous said...

This needs to happen with the goal of working together.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Yep, you hit the nail on the head Baca.

Paintball, as of right now, is only more of a sport than professional wrestling, because the winners are not predetermined ;)

I do not begrudge the owners of the PSP, NPPL, MS or whoever, that they try to make a buck, by providing a service us paintball players want.... actually I applaud them all for doing it, because God knows they are not make a lot of money, if you factor in the work hours that go into it.

But, at the end of the day, all 3 leagues are really just glorified commercial rental operations.

2 things have to happen, for paintball to become a real sport:

1. It has to transform into being run for the players/teams, and on their terms.


2. It has to get public recognition as a sport (and point 1 is actually pretty important in gaining that recognition, which few apparently grasp).

Why is this relevant to the current debate?

Well, the PSP (IMHO) has to seriously consider the long term future, which may (or may not, depending on whether Laurent is successful) include a proper governing body for our sport.

If they do not, they might find themselves out of business in a not too distant future.

So, I highly recommend the PSP (and other leagues), take this offseason to really listen to their participating teams.... and try to accomodate their wants/needs - rather than predominantly listening to industry.

Lawrence said...

Just to play the devils advocate...why should we trust Laurent? Why should I trust Laurent over Dave, or any other? He's an owner who has seemingly strong armed the sport - both the leagues, and field owners - multiple times.

Dont give me the: "he's done a lot for the sport and you trust him". Why? I'm not trying to flame, I'm legitimately curious as it seems to me that the only people who would be fit for such a position is a person who has no current industry affiliations.

Reiner Schafer said...

"1. It has to transform into being run for the players/teams, and on their terms."

"Well, the PSP (IMHO) has to seriously consider the long term future, which may (or may not, depending on whether Laurent is successful) include a proper governing body for our sport."

So Nick, from these two statements I assume the players/teams should/will become the governing body? Which major current sports have that?

Baca Loco said...

New Pro--I've been down this road before--just not recently.

Lawrence--in the case of Laurent's federation goals he is working to construct a sports federation like any other. Once the apparatus is in place and functioning it necessarily functions the way such federations are supposed to. It doesn't make them impervious to influence or corruption but it does define and organize a structure outside the direct control of the industry.

Baca Loco said...

New Pro--besides, I'm not advocating some sort of commie pinko giveaway--I'm sinply suggesting that the Pro teams, if they want any input or any voice in what happens they can only manage that by working together.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, it doesn't matter. Pro teams need paint to survive. Unless the team wants to foot the bill for paint, they will always have to play the game the way the league owners want, because the league owners and paint owners, and other sponsors all make the pro team's budget possible.

The real solution is not to do this crazy "let's regulate the game" or "let's dictate to the teams" process, but let the natural market forces play out.

Industry sponsors players with what is profitable for them to do, they set the game the way the players and industry jointly agree on, and then the crap teams will fall aside and we have to trust that the market will rise up.

The only reason why we have problems and care about it is because people want to protect the "old guard" companies AND teams.

If Dynasty's sponsorship falls and the team disappears (not a prediction) another will take their place. Same with Damage, etc.

Here is the most important thing to consider. There is always another rich guy or another group of players willing to sacrifice all to become pro.

If we let the market work its way it will happen. If we try to fiddle with things to make it so those who already have, continue to have, then we'll end up with stagnation.

Barriers to entry are never positive for a healthy market. Pro teams that need to die, should die. We shouldn't fiddle with the format to give them more ability to compete (unless its agreed upon by all).

Baca Loco said...

Anon 12:21
Sure but what you're describing is neither a 'natural' market or a sport--it's just more of the same. Whoop-de-freaking-doo

Nick Brockdorff said...


Almost all sports have that.... the notable exceptions (which is probably why the concept is meeting so much resistance in the US) are NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

In the rest of the world, almost every sport of note (including football, basketball, baseball and hockey), is governed by a federation, which is lead by elected representatives of the country federations, which in turn are lead by elected officials from member clubs, who in turn elect they own local leadership amongst their members.

And yes, I know the average amateur division 8 soccer player does not feel he is that close with FIFA.... just like you and I probably don't feel a great kinship with our elected representatives in government.

But, it's the principle of the matter I agree with... I'd rather see the sport of paintball be founded on democratic principles, than being run by corporations..... just like I prefer my country do be a democracy, rather than a dictatorship (unless ofcourse I am the dictator ;))

And, to the people that seem to think I am advocating some form of communism here.... I am not.... I don't view corporations as evil, and I have a great belief in the good intentions of a LOT of the companies in our industry.

But I think our sport should be run by officials we the players elect (and BTW, I'd be happy to vote for Lane!), and those appointed officials can then make sure our industry is included and considered, to the extent it is in the best interest of the players.

As for why we should trust Laurent.... we should not :)

But, until I have proof to the contrary, I believe in his intentions, and support his project and what he says he is trying to achieve.

At the end of the day.... there would be zero logic behind him trying to create a bogus federation, since his company already holds a great deal of power under the current circumstances of tournament paintball.

NewPro said...

The pro division would be the only division with any non-monetary leverage. However, only a year without this division would allow us to see if it had any impact at all on the PSP.

Anonymous said...

What's so bad about being toys in the PSP sandbox? Works fine for NASCAR teams.

More importantly, why should the teams have any say in the way the league is operating? If PSP or PBA loses money, are the teams going to foot the bill? Paintball Access created a top-notch webcast to promote the Pro teams, are the Pro teams paying for all the equipment PBA bought and all the people working to make it happen?

If you don't want to be toys in someone else's sandbox, then you need to build your own sandbox.

Unfortunately paintball teams do not have a good track record with sandbox construction.

Baca Loco said...

Anon 11:18
NASCAR isn't in as great a shape as you seem to think as the racing teams are subject to the same sponsorship issues as paintball teams--admittedly on a vastly different scale--and they are being hurt in the current environment. So what happens to NASCAR and all those independent tracks, etc. when there are no more racing teams?

PSP and PBA don't do anything FOR the teams, pro or otherwise. PBA is using pro division play, likenesses, team identities, etc. in an effort to live market the game as a sport.
And given the current state of general broad spectrum unwillingness to even talk to the teams the ideal time for all of them to make their own sandbox is the minute the PBA finds a market.


TJ said...

I see all this talk of the Pro division, but the reality is that the divisional teams are what make PSP events feasible. Why is it that we are constantly forgotten, left to foot the bill? Ridiculous, IMO.

Anonymous said...

PSP and PBA don't do anything for the pro teams? How about running the Pro field at a cost that far exceeds the Pro entry fees? How about investing nearly a million dollars to webcast your performance to the world?

If you think the Pro teams need to have control, there's a league for that, and it's called NPPL. How's that working out for you?

The reason PSP gets to call the shots is because the PSP owners are willing to put up the cash to make it happen.

If the Pro teams really want control, the solution is staring them in the face: Pony up $100k each and start your own webcast of your own league next year.

Or, you can start a blog and whine about how you should have more say in how someone else's money is spent.

I guess Obama did win the election.

Baca Loco said...

Try a blog.

Anon 8:56
Get real. They don't do any of that FOR the pro teams.

Nowhere will you find I suggest the pro teams have control. If you're going to object at least argue against something I actually said.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Divisional teams - or their equivalent - make every sport possible.

But, that does not mean we want to read about or see them play... as with everything else in life - "the best" and "the worst" are what's interesting... the rest is just what the rest of us do to enjoy ourselves.... but unless we are exceedingly good - or bad - we should not expect exposure :)

I would be greatly surprised if the PBA webcast costs close to a million dollars.... I know they offered to cover a MS event for around 5 % of that.... so I am guessing the million dollar number is greatly inflated compared to what the real cost is? - But... I may ofcourse be wrong, in which cast I'd enjoy being proven wrong :)

Missy Q said...

Nick, unfortunately (only joking) you are wrong. The bill for the webcast is probably north of 1 million by now. The production van cost about half of that if you can believe it. I don't have real numbers to share with you, but I did some math of my own and even without the initial investment the webcast costs a huge amount of money to run. You simply can't compare it to the European version. I would understand if, after this level of investment in the Pro division, that PSP/PBA could get upset if the teams started putting their hands out for 'their share' of the 'profit'.
The Pro teams will happily sit back and wait until the PBA project either fails or succeeds. If it fails, the teams aren't affected, they don't lose a dime, but if it succeeds - The teams spring into action, form a coalition, and attempt to wrestle a level of control which alows them to profit from PBA's investment. It's nothing new. Pro-teams are generally happy to see their sport progress and the industry invest their resources to provide a better and better product for them, but at the point where someone might make some money, they want their share of it. Mouths are obviously watering about the 'webcast pay-out', but I'm not sure there's going to be one, so I expect all this is just pie-in-the-sky thinking. Those few Pro players that actually have day jobs should probably hold on to them for a while longer.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Missy, PBA offered to cover a MS event at 5 % of that.... which is why the amount did not make sense to me :)

Anonymous said...


Are you really that dense?

PBA has spent about $1 million on the webcast effort.

PBA is willing to webcast an additional event for $50,000.

Not saying either of those is necessarily true, but they certainly both could be. $50k an event is $250k, plus $750k in equipment, and you've got $1 million.

Nick Brockdorff said...


Well - before you start throwing around words like that, you might want to look up what the normal P/E ratio is for a media/broadcast company with any hope of survival....

THEN come back and tell me I am "dense" again :D

But hey, maybe PBA is exempt from the normal business practices of the media industry ;)

Anonymous said...

"Lawrence--in the case of Laurent's federation goals he is working to construct a sports federation like any other. Once the apparatus is in place and functioning it necessarily functions the way such federations are supposed to. It doesn't make them impervious to influence or corruption but it does define and organize a structure outside the direct control of the industry."

Wouldn't it be possible (maybe even likely) for a federation to be stacked with industry? Maybe there would be a seat for a player rep and a ref rep, but if the rest of the voting body is industry, the players may be in a position where their voice is out-voted.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I disagree... the federation, by nature, is the representative body of the players (well, actually "clubs").

It is not a trade organisation (something I wish paintball had, as it could do a lot of good in terms of promoting the sport to the outside world).

As such, none of the voting body will be industry in a federation... unless the voters are stupid enough to elect industry leaders ofcourse.... which would be like putting representatives of Adidas, Nike and Reebok in a position of power within FIFA.

But your post is interesting, because it clearly illustrates how used we have gotten to industry calling all the shots in paintball, so that it seems natural to assume industry will be running a federation :)