For long years the heaviest hitters in the game worked diligently--if nor always effectively--to legitimize competitive paintball and reap the attendant rewards, fame and fortune, if only in modest proportions relative to the mainstream monoliths of pro sports. After a fashion PBA is still mining that rocky soil. The one thing they all share in common is they spent a lot of money chasing the dream of *real* pro paintball. A dream that should it ever become reality continues to hold out the hope it may produce a truly professional competitive paintball league. So it is particularly ironic to note that the only people making any cheddar off big time paintball is a handful of players. And they are making it, by and large, from a small handful of fat cat owners who have, this off season, accelerated the bidding wars on the limited number of perceived top tier players.
Good for the players who are in the money, I say. But it's more complicated than that. Is it good for the game? Is it likely to continue? What happens a little further down the road, say three, five or ten years into the future?
In a recent post VFTD took a look at money versus talent when it comes to winning. But while money doesn't guarantee success it does have a powerful influence on the game. And the Fat Cat owners with the deepest pockets (and a willingness to dig a little) are affecting the game in a variety of ways. Even during the Golden Age of sponsorship the big industry factories weren't tossing around the kinda cash the Fat Cats are this off season. With little or no thought about the ultimate consequences.
The Fat Cats make a mockery of even the pretense of parity. They aren't concerned in the least with true competition and have zero concern for the future of the game once they're done with it. The recent bidding war has enriched a handful of players and impoverished the game to the detriment of everyone else. And where does it all lead? To an ever widening gulf between the haves and the have nots and a growing cynicism among fans and players. The leading players have become nomadic mercenaries and the teams temporary stopovers.
The Fat Cats are creating unstable precedents and unsustainable standards that will tumble sooner rather than later. Do the names Draper, Monroe or Shows ring a bell? (Former Fat Cats one and all but they never dreamed of the excesses of the current crop.) The fact is once they tire of the game they're gone as are their teams and money and all that will remain are impossible expectations and empty spaces where transitory teams once competed. Perhaps it's an inevitable part of the game's development but perhaps not.