National level tournament paintball is broken. It’s weathered, chipped, cracked and leaking water. But it’s not dead. It’s disoriented and lost and can’t find True North. It needs someone to find it, point it in a direction, cultivate it and fix the nicks and cracks—otherwise it’s going to keep limping along, cracked with spouting leaks and drifting aimlessly and pointlessly.
Pro/Am tournament paintball in its current format(s) is draining everyone. The leagues and promoters are losing a fortune: sponsorships are down causing teams to struggle to pay entry fees, paint and travel costs; the number of events that take place with the two existing leagues is taxing manufacturers/vendors; and the leagues are finding it difficult to put enough qualified refs on the fields. If you play on a team that competes in the PSP or USPL (or the CFOA, RPL, WCPPL, or WHATEVERPL on the regional level) you know exactly what I’m talking about. Unless you’re one of the top four or five teams in the world you are pulling cash out of your own bank account to subsidize whatever sponsorship money you have coming to you. If your name is Keely, Chuck, Lane, Dave, Adam, or Tom you also know what I’m talking about. You’re working day and night trying to figure out how to come close to “breaking even.” And you’ve been doing it for years and nothing’s really changing. If you’re a manufacturer or vendor, as we speak you’re probably trying to figure out which events you can afford to attend because you know you’re not going to be able to make it to all of them. And for you over-worked refs, when was the last time it didn’t cost you money out of pocket for the privilege of working a ten hour day? The current state of national tournament paintball is not working for anyone at any level.
Before I get too far into this I want to make it perfectly clear that I realize a lot of very smart people have been trying to figure this all out for a long time. I also want to make it clear that I’m not faulting the leagues, promoters, refs, sponsors or players in any of this. But it’s time to rethink what we’re doing with this aspect of the game of paintball. Tournament paintball is broken and it needs to be fixed. I don’t have all the answers but I think I can push the buttons that will bring the answers out of you.
So on that note I am using my space this month to introduce a new blog series on the topic. Much like my “What Have We Done to Our Game” blog series, “Rethinking Tournament Paintball” will be an online think-tank of ideas which I hope will get us all talking, thinking, brainstorming and working creatively together. Tweaking the game format isn’t the answer. Adding a division isn’t the answer. Webcasts are not the answer. And an improving economy isn’t the answer either. Truly fixing tournament paintball is going to take a lot more than any of those things. Thinking outside the box isn’t even going to be enough. We need to crush, recycle the box and start over as if we’ve never been to a paintball tournament before. We have almost eight months until the next tournament season starts. Are you tired of the same old song yet?
Part One of Rethinking Tournament Paintball will be available at http://john-amodea.blogspot.com on August 24th, 2009.
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