Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Federations, Legitimacy & the *real* World Cup

This seems an appropriate moment for a more serious take on this subject given some recent comments received. First however let me suggest that if you have no real interest in this topic--and why should you?--feel free to skip this one. Honestly I wouldn't blame you. Whatever ultimately happens is unlikely to effect the great majority of tournament players much one way or another--except to perhaps cost you a few extra bucks in the long run but that's pretty much inevitable in this sport. Whatever happens probably won't effect me either, so why bother?
It's no bother really. I discovered a long time ago that if I was interested in intelligent conversations about competitive paintball I would need to start them myself. So here we are.
Let me clarify a couple of things too before I get down to it. I am not opposed to the idea of international paintball cooperation based on a federations model. I'm not even opposed to the notion of a *real* World Cup that has national teams competing against one another. Nor am I opposed to someone else leading the federated parade (wherever its going.)
But I do have questions. (Another thing I learned a long time ago is that those ostensibly in charge generally don't like answering questions. It makes them feel accountable.)
Before I ask my questions though a little history review is probably in order for those unfamiliar with the last decade or so of major league paintball and the efforts to popularize, legitimize and televise competitive paintball. (Because all three efforts share one thing in common; to deliver the lion's share of the winnings to the winners. And if you hijack the game in the process it's easy to rationalize that it's being done for the general good when it's gonna be so good for you.) NPPL 1.0 (Pure Promotions) envisioned their league as the center of the paintball universe and ambassador of the game to the world and strove mightily to gain a foothold in TVland. To an extent that was fine, their dime their risk, but if it had worked it would have left everyone else on the outside looking in, including the pro teams that are the product the game is selling. The NXL effort was modeled after professional American sports leagues so the status of the teams and the players was resolved but, once again, a limited group controlled everything. (Of course at the moment paintball succeeds on TV the "winners" lose all interest in amateur paintball completely. And at the end of the day the great majority of players aren't affected much one way or the other.) The federation model being espoused by the EPBF (primarily) is a different animal altogether. If it is accepted and continues to draw in countries, tournament series, etc. it necessarily draws in the vast majority of the competitive players as well--whether they like it or not. The counter to this is that the federations function on multiple levels and operate as democratic organizations thus projecting the will of the majority if nothing else. Besides, much of the world's sporting organizations are structured this way so paintball should follow suit.
But there may be differences between appearances and reality and that is where my questions begin.
When, where and how many European national federations gathered to agree on the formation and structure of the EPBF?
Which European national federations voted in the current executive board? When and for how long a term?
What are the by-laws (charter) of the EPBF? Where can the public or at least member federations access them?
Has the EPBF contacted any of the international umbrella organizations (like Sport Accord) about membership?
That's just for starters.
Is it possible despite an unconventional beginning that the effort to build international federations is completely on the up and up? Of course.
Is it possible that the EPBF is being used to give an imprimatur of legitimacy to the Millennium Series given that control of the EPBF is dominated by MS board members? Could be.
Is it possible that both are simultaneously true? Or that those used to holding the reigns of power resist giving them up?
Call me cynical. (I've been called much worse.) But what is the EPBF really beyond a website claiming to be the final authority in competitive paintball in Euroland run by the same guys who have been running things for years?


Anonymous said...

you are a narcissist

Baca Loco said...

I know you are but what am I?

La Mancha said...

The federations really have their act together. In France they just got the age lowered to 12 at which you could play. Very impressive considering the bureaucracy. In Italy they got paintball legalized.

They do some other work, but in this light projecting or protecting incumbent power of the Millennium is just a small aspect. Really it's navigating the bureaucracy of their governments, which is necessary considering the heavy "legal state" (not sure the best way to put it) in Europe.

In America, traditionally we can get away with just about anything. So the Federation then would only serve to limit League power (if it was grassroots) or more likely protect it. We can't realistically deal with state laws and variations (which are relatively lax anyway) through a federal level federation. We'd need state federations... Which wold actually be interesting.

I have heard of the French federation sanctioning Laurent over his prior cps outburst and the German one get Manfred commit to to back off his ownership of the DPL and letting it be run by the federation.

In some ways the federation proponents who actually are active parts of it do remind me of starry-eyed idealist revolutionaries of an early day in Europe. Quick to assume they have the answers on a Grand scale but no more able to make an improvement collectively than the status quo powers.

But on the bureaucratic level in Europe they are indispensable.

Anonymous said...

Does this have anything to do with the CPS league partnering with the PSP?

Maybe... the MS feels threatened by the leagues and they are trying to control the power by setting up the federations.

We all understand at the end of the day it's about power control and money.

Baca Loco said...

La Mancha
Thanks. If your take is accurate it suggests at least some of the national entities are serving their intended function. Unfortunately it doesn't (necessarily) follow that the EPBF is or considering the list of topics in committee, that it's even capable of functioning as an umbrella federation for the national ones.

1017 Anon
The EPBF (and the broader international plan) have been in the works for years. That's one of the reasons I wonder about their priorities and goals. It appears the EPBF hasn't actually done much of any of the basics--not even by their own standards.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Very informed and valid questions, I'll try to give my (fairly) informed answers:

1. No federations gathered to set up the EPBF, itøs wholly Laurents brainchild

2. Nobody voted for the current board, some were put there by Laurent, some are on it by default, because their federations were the first to sign up

3. I'd like to see the by-laws also, and have requested them at some point, and got an answer that they were "in the works" (insert ironic joke about MS rulebook here :D)

4. I have no idea, you should aks Laurent or the contact person on the EPBF website... but I would assume they want the federation to be able to stand up to scrutiny, before they try gaining prepoer recognition

You are absolutely right that the federation is currently just a (poorly) wielded tool for the MS.... but I actually believe Laurent has good intentions here, and sees this as the long term solution to paintball becoming a bonafide sport.

And actually, every single industry person should feel the same, because if he pulls it off, the paintball marketshare will increase dramatically, world wide.

Anonymous said...

"And actually, every single industry person should feel the same, because if he pulls it off, the paintball marketshare will increase dramatically, world wide."


Having a legit, well-run governing body does not guarantee dramatically more people playing paintball. I'll grant you that yes, you will be able to get more people in some new markets where a governing body could help to remove bans on the game being played. But in places where it is already widespread, I fail to see how it will get more people who aren't playing now, playing later. I think 'dramatically' increased market share is a bit of a stretch.

The Ingenious Gentleman said...

Another way to look at this...

Dye tries to grab power through market share and running tournaments.
Laurent tries to grab power through organizing federations.

You might say the federation is more democratic, but really it's not. It's a select group of interested people working to put themselves in a position of (limited) power to accomplish their goals.

On the other hand, you have willing groups of customers giving Dye their purchasing power and Dye using that to accomplish their goals, which presumably at some level their customers agree with.

So I wouldn't say one is more democratic or even more legitimate than the other.

And based on how quickly a company can fall a part if it goes out of wack in the eyes of its customers, compared to high tightly bureaucracies cling to control (and insist on more of it when things don't work out), it might even be better for the "top dog" to be corporate based, rather than federation based.

But you can't get around the fact that at the local state level the federations can serve a valuable purpose.

I'd agree that the EU version of the federations is probably premature and possibly not even necessary for most tasks. Where it has been helpful, again to my understanding, is in helping to mitigate annual schedules across the leagues in the various countries.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Anon 343

The federation structure is key to all kinds of recognition by the established sports and media structures of the world, and that is where the growth will come from.

Every sport in the world was at our stage, at some point... and very few, if any, had such a valuable industry and such strong grassroots, at our current stage.

The pessimists, that always say talks of olympics and tv coverage are pipedreams, fail to see that paintball is a far larger sport/industry, than many that are currently televised regularly and/or featured on the olympic programme.

An official structure is what paintball is missing, to take the next step.

And yes, bla bla bla, paintball does not have a focal point, like football or tennis... it's semantics..... synchronized swimming, trampoline and archery are on the olympic programme, and they all have smaller industries, and smaller numbers of participants.... but they have structure!

Reiner Schafer said...

"they all have structure"... and can all be easily viewed. Olympics and TV are businesses that need viewers. Stuff that doesn't get viewers, gets dropped (or doesn't get added in the first place). You can't sell stuff that people won't watch it doesn't matter how much structure it has.

Anonymous said...

I always look at efforts to grow the pie positively, unless they are costing me money...

Anonymous said...


Are you sure about that? There are lots of organized federations for sports that no one cares about (see list here: )

People see paintball on TV as a pipedream because paintball does not work well in that medium. A federation doesn't make it watchable.

Don Q. said...

"paintball does not work well in that medium"

So Paintall Access is a failure then? I thought what they are doing works pretty damn well and myself and just about everyone I know would rather watch it than half of the sports in the Olympics.

The reason why we won't get on the Olympics has nothing to do with watchability. It's everything to do with the political sensitivities of those who call the shots.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Politics has no bearing on paintball being an olympic sport.... fencing, boxing and various martial arts are one the programme.

Yes, paintball is watchable.... the suspense of a really good snake battle or 1 on 1 duel trancends being a paintballer.... I have had many non-paintballer friends say that over the years, and some became paintballers because of it - that's the whole freaking point Reiner.... if we can find a way to display why we love this sport, people will get it!

I'm sick of people in paintball saying it can't be done - ofcourse it can, it's just a question of finding the method - and like it or not - Mattys storytelling method works, and is a great step in the right direction.

Paintballers need to stop bickering about the little things, and focus on the big picture.

Cervantes said...

Ya you're right. It's not as if the prior summer games could possibly let their views of "guns" influence their decisions. Everyone knows there is no political intrique, corruption, and bias in the Olympics. Why, it's as pure-hearted as the United Nations or Washington DC itself.

Oh, btw, they attempted to ban children from -watching- clay pigeon shooting at the previous Olympics. It was overturned after a huge outcry, but the attempt was still made.

Sorry, as long as we play a sport where we shoot at each other, you will not get to see a team of Iranians shoot at a team of Isrealis in the Olympics.

Nick Brockdorff said...

But, it's ok for an iranian to beat an israeli to a bloody pulp in a boxing ring?

So, we can conclude a federation is pointless, because the IOC would never accept a "violent" game on their programme....

I get it now, thanks for showing me the light :D

Anonymous said...

Err... Shooting is different. More real and more prone to security issues. Boxing has been banned in the past actually.

Anonymous said...

We can conclude that a federation is pointless, because high quality competition is possible without federations and without being included in the Olympics.

The Olympics is not that great of a goal. The majority of the sports garner a marginal, passing interest once every four years, then are forgotten.

Baca Loco said...

943 Anon
While largely true that's not the principle reason to federate (for most of those who favor the idea.) At root it's about government sanction and even support.