Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Cost of Taking Care of Bidness

Last week's The Monday Poll results suggest the majority of tourney players pay somewhere between $1000 and $5000 for their annual paintball fix. At the high end something close to 20% pay as much as $10,000. (Ouch!) In continuing the discussion of the cost of competition VFTD is gonna take a look at how those costs break down over a season--which may give some a truer idea of what they're really spending.
I'ma break spending down into three basic categories; gear, practice and events. Gear is probably the one that has the most variation. The player who has been at this awhile isn't going to need as much stuff as the new kid getting started. Still, lots of factors play into the cost of gear. If your team has a new sponsor that likely means everyone has to buy that sponsor's package for the upcoming season and if it includes a gun we're already in the neighborhood of a $1000. (I am purposefully keeping costs both general and tending toward the frugal because the totals are going to add up quickly regardless.) New unis, packs and accessories--depending on the accessories--might only hit you up for between $300-$500. Even the long time players have regular miscellaneous expenses for new lenses, cleats, gloves, pads, pods and the occasional hopper, etc. If you're new and need a tourney quality gun (or don't like what you've got now) you could go used and get a solid capable gun for let's say $300. Or you could grab a top-of-the-line, new-in-its -case-killer for $1400. If you're a penny pincher you might manage to cover your annual gear costs for $400 to $500 bucks. If you're not it ain't that hard to spend between $1000-$2000 on gear alone.
Okay, practice is up next. While plenty of players are on field teams and get discounts or work for their local field in order to get reduced costs or freebies to play I'm assuming most players have to deal with the basic costs to practice. Field fee, paint, maybe air and the miscellaneous associated costs of gas for travel and a meal afterwards hanging out with teammates. And that's keeping it simple. If your travel requirements go beyond your local area the additional costs will add up quickly. For our purposes let's assume practice entails a single day with a doable drive to practice and back home. Under those conditions you might manage on around $75 but odds are the daily practice bill will be closer to the $100-$125 range so let's call it $100 bucks a day to practice.
Finally it's time for the events. Here's the payoff for the time and money already spent. At the local level the costs to compete fit the same basic categories as the more prominent events but almost certainly at a much lower price point with the possible exception of paint. For now we'll ignore that possibility. Otherwise there's entry fees, possible player registration fees, paint and travel costs similar to those of practice unless the event was far enough away that it was worthwhile to spend the night before the event in a local hotel. Depending on the format and division one is competing in it's possible to spend as little as $200 or as much as $500 to compete.
A national event has similar categories (and everyone is playing paintball) but that's where the similarity ends. Entry fees are considerably higher. Player registration is a given. Paint. Travel can vary as some hearty souls will road trip to distant events but most fly. So there's a plane ticket. Rental vehicles and hotel rooms plus the miscellaneous expenses for food, nights out, possible tolls, gas, parking at the airport and on and on. If you are one of ten players on a RaceTo-4 squad and all those costs apply odds are the total will be in the neighborhood of $1000--and could easily go higher--and probably will.
The other element that comes into play at events is that the paint tab is flexible. How much your team shoots will depend on a lot of different factors so you go into an event not knowing just what you will spend for paint. Which is another cost related consideration.
Now it's time for you to do the math. Where does your gear cost come in on the range discussed? How many days of practice will you have? And how many events will you play? Pick a number and multiple by the one time cost to see what your season long bill will be.


Anonymous said...

So figure 10 practices a year, $100/practice, $1000 in gear expense, 1000 per event, 5 events a year, and that's $7000 for 10 practice days and 10 event days for an average cost of $350 a day.

If you make Sunday, you play more, but pay more for paint so the average cost would probably be the same.

Bruce said...

How can this possibly be sustainable for people without a career or family funding?

Anonymous said...

Well at some point people with families stop playing, unless they're in the industry.

For everyone else, 350/a day 20 days a year is certainly expensive, but it's also possible if you prioritize it over vacations, bar night every Friday, easting out, etc.

Granted, the typical paintball player doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who does prioritizing very well, which probably means it's not sustainable individually, but there's always another dreamer with a credit card to max out for a couple years.

sdawg said...

I guess the justification is that it is a hobby, and there are plenty of hobbies on which one could spend thousands of dollars, especially when traveling nationally in pursuit of the hobby.

I suspect that most teams that have any longevity also have either a) a wealthy benefactor who is subsidizing the team b) a group of adults with Real Jobs that pay enough to support their hobby.

Michael Brozak said...

Anon - 9:21

With only 10 practices a year, how successful are you at tournament time? (not a dig, just curious). I have managed to get our practices for paint and field fees down to $35.00 for about 3-4 hours of drills and a race to 3 match at the end of each practice. Some go to eat afterwards some don't. With these costs we are able to run 4-5 practices between events and at least one weekend is a two day scrimmage on whatever the upcoming layout is. Most of my players can afford at least 3 or 4 which at least puts everyone together practicing.