Friday, April 25, 2014

Who Wants Vanilla?

What do you want to see when you watch a PBA webcast of a PSP event? (Yeah, I know, you want to see yourself and not those lame pro players but other than that--what do you want to see?) How 'bout everybody shaking hands like gentlemen after the match? Or another scintillating player interview where the players try not to say anything even slightly controversial? (When did everybody go to media savvy school and learn to be bland?) Or another penalty for over-shooting, oops, I mean unsportsmanlike conduct? Come to that any penalty that becomes the mystery center of attention for ten seconds (hopefully no longer 'cus you're never gonna find out what the penalty was for anyway.) Or another incomprehensible team chant or another shout out to fill-in-the-sponsor. Or God forbid players on competing teams laughing and hugging each other.
Every player lies to himself and tells himself competitive paintball is hardcore. Gritty. Dirty. And then when we try to bring it to a wider audience we scrub the drama, conflict, passion (and humanity?) right out of it. Yeah, I know, the pros need to act like professionals--despite the fact they mostly aren't--but does acting like a professional have to be boring as hell?
I had a long conversation today [yesterday] with a VIPP (very important paintball personality) and one of the things we talked about was what sort of game do we need to be playing to capture the public imagination? I know, I know, some of you are convinced competitive paintball will never be more than a niche sport and some of you kinda like it that way. Hear me out and then shoot me down.
When the talk turns to the game on the field I think everyone pretty much is in agreement; we all want fast paced high energy action that grabs your attention and won't let you look away. Which is easier said than done. (D'oh!) (Although I have an idea or two about that as well--for another post.)
But before a new audience can get caught up in the action of the game don't we need to give them a reason to care? To choose to watch. Cable TV is replete with "reality" shows of guys fishing for crabs, or prospecting for gold in tough environments or even trashy superficial women fighting like cats and dogs. What they all share in common is drama and conflict and the ones that work and prosper do so because an audience cares about the people involved, love 'em or hate 'em, and want to know what happens next. Maybe what paintball needs is a little more "reality" and a little less banality. 


Anonymous said...

Everyone is trying to act like they're on Sports Center. Right down to that VIPP if Matty doesn't mind me saying so.

Anonymous said...

All I get is Hate when I keep it Real.


Nick Brockdorff said...

Yep, bring back the in-game taunting, the foul language and "debating" with the refs whether you are out or not.

Some may think that is irony, but I actually mean it... paintball was way more enjoyable to watch (and play), back when many a pro game could potentially end up in an on-field brawl, hockey style.

sdawg said...

Hire "Mean Gene" Okerlund as a consultant to do the player interviews.

Also, didn't we try "paintball reality" already?

Baca Loco said...

Commentary needn't be partisan or cheerleading or unfiltered whatever to be done effectively. In that role professionalism is required.
Think back the Sherman situation in the NFL and how up in arms the pundits were over his exuburant comments post conference championship game. Love it or hate everyone was talking about him and their take for days.

I'm not so much talking about during the matches themselves but every way we try to "promote" the game seems to be based on the idea it has to be unoffensive to everyone in every way possible--and that's just boring.

Hate is good. :) Peeps will tune in for that.
I'm not advocating we mimic the WWE but we need a few black hats to square off with all the white hats.

Baca Loco said...

I'll give it a look.

NewPro said...

People (players) love the unscripted, hence why press secretaries go ballistic when politicians try to ad lib.

Lately there's been no differentiation BT interviews. No heart, no soul, no "inside scoop/dirt. Sorry people, we are a generation of ambulance chasers, give us the dirt.

Maybe we'd love to see a fistfight at the 50, a player call his coach a ^%$#@!bag on camera. Hell, if we can resurrect Aftershock circa 1994, this may be possible.

I understand they are probably trying to police this as closely as possible because someone other than PB players might be watching but i guarantee even a non-pb fan will watch the duration of an interview that starts with an F-BOMB.

Less class,more ass

Anonymous said...

It's just following the lead. Matt is the face and the lead and people play to it. I agree there are differing roles, but since Pba itself isn't providing any color characters, with the occasional exception of a self filtered Todd, the players follow suit.

It's also just being camera shy. People don't want to look like tools so they default to looking like stiffs.

Next penalty Oliver gets and says its fing bullshit and the ref is biased who is always screwing dynasty, we'll see calls of unprofessionalism, whined players etc.

Players bite their toques and are told they're dry and boring. You want controversy or color with a small c? Find a way to incentivize it. Prizes to the team with the most highly rated interviews and reward them.

Nick Brockdorff said...


You have to promote it for what it is, unless you want a bunch of disappointed people as a result of the promotion.

So, if we want a better show to promote - and watch - we'll need to get rid of some of the more stringent rules about conduct, language, etc.

And yes, it's a fine line between a good show and silliness, but right now, we are too far in the other direction IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say I'm disappointed the tittle didn't being big chocolate booty missyq outta the word work. She definitely doesn't want vanilla. Maybe you need her to do color interviews. She's got more character in her four front teeth than the whole league.

Tiffany said...

dawg - that's the kernel I thought of as soon as I started reading this post. Now execution... interviews/rants/public feuds could be a gold mine for an orator the public loves or hates, both can be equally good.

1) prescheduled interviews, take your pick of colorful guys, contact them ahead of time so they can prepare to articulate anything they want to get off their chest. The topics are almost infinite. These boys are a bit new to this so a little practice couldn't hurt.

2) the psp is not scared of a little heat. Take Baca's hiring and the mindset of changing plans relatively quickly. We want to hear complaints about layout, comments on calls, angst about regulation, pain of missing Sunday. Pin some blame, tell me what you are thinking.

3) there are saints and sinners, just depends where you are standing and we love that shit! PB Access has a professional front man, but he could use a nudge or perhaps just a free hand to mc a bit of a smack off.

Colorful characters abound; Tmoney, Ponyboy, Ttroll, Archie, Ollie etc. They could be polarizing if prodded and raise their own profile in the process.

sdawg said...

It occurred to me later that the Reckoning series from DerDer is already doing what this post calls for? Although, I guess you're looking for more color added during the webcast?

Baca, you never saw Xtreme Paintball: Beyond the Paint? Wow, was that show awful, although it picked up a little when Rich Telford started doing game play-by-play. They guy they had before that was terrible.

I think that the guy from MWAG started doing the webcast partly out of response to XP:BtP.

Missy Q'ster said...

yep, I can do color...

....and its 5 teeth, last I checked.

It's not necessarily about keeping it real, but you certainly have to keep it interesting, and ask the questions that the guys at home want answered. That's the basic function of a color guy over a pundit/expert.

Anonymous said...

Fans should be able to call in or text from home. Maybe setup a twitter or Facebook post specifically for that. Possibly get some of those messages relayed to the on field interviews... etc.

MissytheQ said...

To save time, why not just have them txt Matty's cell-phone directly? This way the fans can get the answers to their questions during the event, and if they have follow-up questions,say a week or so afterwards, they can fire those off too....
Sounds like a win/win.