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Old 10-13-2009, 11:59 AM #1
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Now is the winter of our discontent

You know, I always thought that line was "And so begins the winter of our discontent." My Shakespearian quote knowledge is so bad. That's a coffeetable talk landmine right there...

As the 2010 season wraps up, we are entering into the coldest winter paintball may ever have seen.

Much of the support that many pro teams have taken for granted for years is simply not there. Things like free practice or event paint may be a thing of the past for most teams. Even a small price per case could be catastrophic for the pro's, who often go through 750 to 1000 cases of practice paint a year. If paint was even as low as $20 (and that is lower than any number I've seen so far), that would be an additional $15,000 to $20,000 on our budgets. And that doesn't include event paint.

And on the flip side, sponsorships are going down or going away. Teams are going to have to work more to earn less (and mind you, some of us - like the Hurricanes - are just teams. I dont have a store or field or anyway to move 100 guns a year). The added work distracts from the core purpose of the team - becoming a good team. And the added work may not be any small matter, either, as every year it grows harder and harder to sell high-end guns.

When you figure that the PSP events cost about $50,000 per year and practices probably cost just a hair under $25,000 per year, and now you are adding that paint budget... Yikes.

How much longer can teams hold out? How many are going to die this winter? How many are going to radically cut costs, drop players because of the cost of keeping them, rather than because they are good or bad on the field? Where does the line get drawn where the industry can afford to sponsor a set number of elite teams? 8 teams? 12? 6? Will that number make sense to the PSP/USPL to run events for? How much longer will there be national events, anyway?

How long until more teams start charging their players? Right now that is limited largely to the out-riders, teams making big jumps up to the pros. Most "established" pros would be hard pressed to pay to play, either because they would be insulted or because they simply cant. And what happens when you have some teams still paying their players but competing in a league against teams that are charging players? How long can that situation exist before the inequality creates larger problems and impacts team integrity (and thereby, division integrity)?

Just some food for thought for everyone out there to ponder. As ever, I'd love to read responses and discuss the issues. I don't want this to become a "which teams die" thread, but I think there is merit in looking at individual teams and asking "how do they" or "how will they" survive. I'll start that off: I have no knowledge of Aftershock. I don't know if the players kick in money to play or if they are paid. Neither would surprise me. If any of you know an Aftershock player, go ask them (to come in here and post). I see teams like Shock, and NEH (the "middle class" of pro paintball) as critical to the success of the leagues. And I don't have much idea of how the rest of the middle class is doing.
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:49 PM #2
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Jeff,

I believe teams will begin to behave more like tournaments – become more regional or even local. What do I mean by that – well… teams like the All A’s most likely won’t have the budget to fly in high profile players – such as Jason Edwards, Son and Konstantin Federov. Instead they’ll most likely grab players from the top local team(s) in their area and attempt to control as much of the travel costs as possible. I don’t claim to know everyone’s roster. More importantly, I don’t know where all those players live, so I can’t say which teams will have the ability to reduce their run rate via localization and those that won’t be able to.

While BJ may make a great coach, does it make sense to have to fly in your coach to every practice? Can’t you look to control some of your costs by localizing your players and coaches? I don’t know if any of your players (other then Frank Connell) are actually outside the region. I think the furthest is Bart and I believe he’s only in NY.

Playing for your “Home” team will not only be a pride thing, but it will become a requirement if you want to play professional paintball. Unless you’re the Ironmen (and I believe they have their limits too) team budgets are most likely getting reduced for next season. In order to maintain the status quo – teams will need to reduce their run rate. If teams want to expand their offering then they’ll need to look for additional sponsorship dollars – most likely outside the industry.

So – the real question is: How can pro teams reduce their run rate?

Assuming you don’t pay your players cash money there are only a few ways:
1 – reduce your travel expenses by localizing your players
2 – reduce your practice costs by practicing locally and shooting less balls (reball maybe?)
3 – When playing national events – look to minimize your travel costs – cram more players into each room, rent less cars, travel at off peak times, eat at subway – not the local Steakhouse.
4 – if you do pay your players – localize your team and stop/reduce paying for players.

There are no easy answers
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:42 PM #3
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I think now we are going to find out what happens when paintball starts to cost real life money again. We've brought this up in other threads, but how many of the "pro" players would still play if they had to pay to do it? I know that one of the arguments always made about this current crop of "pro" players is that they have to give up so much to be a "pro", such as real jobs, family events, school, etc. I wonder what will happen when they are told "you have to give all this up, AND we need 1,000 a month from you".

Most people with real jobs and real families and such would definitely struggle to take the kind of time off that is necessary to compete at the highest level. I know that while I have the kind of vacation necessary to do it, I would essentially use all of it and have no vacation time to spend with my wife. For many pro players, this will be a serious issue. They are either old enough to make enough money to be able to afford it, but now will have to make tough choices with their money, or too young to have enough money to be able to contribute.

I think that no matter what, the amount of "pro" players is going to decrease. It has become increasingly clear over the last two years that the end game for Professional Paintball is shrinking. Regional, "for fun", local, and the like are now realistically where 99.9% of players are going to end up. Yes, some will rise above, but with increasing costs, it seems like the window for being a "pro" is shrinking. Too young and you won't have the money, too old and you won't be able to make the grind. Don't skip college, because in all honesty, there won't be a future after your few years in the "pro" game.

So what are we left with? The real issue I have with this whole scenario is that we won't have the best paintball players being "pro". We're going to have a certain type of person who has a certain type of job. For other sports, it doesn't really work like that. Talent rises to the top. Here it's going to be talent plus other factors.

I think this sport needs to get back to its regional and recreational roots.
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:51 PM #4
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There will always be players playing for free. There will always be players getting paid to play. So what happens when 10% of the league is paying players, 15% get a free ride and 75% have players paying to play? Does that inequality rock the boat so much it capsizes?

Should only wealthy people be allowed to run teams? It didn't help Bart Monroe, Gary Shows or Doc Draper.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:03 PM #5
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There will be some players that may be disloyal and only work hard for you so that they get noticed and eventually are picked up by the organizations with the money. I think you'd still find that there are enough players out there who would play for the love of the game even if they're not being paid to do it. After all, there are very few players who are paid to play paintball now. Almost all of us do it because we love it, not because we want to make money doing it. If we can play for free, or very cheaply, that's probably good enough for most. Those who feel that way, and who want the biggest challenge, will still play at the pro level.

With the number of pro teams shrinking the available talent pool grows, so even if you lose some people to financial difficulties, there will likely still be enough talent to fill the pro rosters.
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:27 PM #6
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Any chance of DA coming back to coach the hurricanes???
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:24 PM #7
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I'll ask him right now.
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:44 PM #8
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Anything is possible, but we will have to see how things pan out. I would need to really work at understanding Xball strategy better to be of use to the Canes though.

Coaching at the Pro level is not something you just walk in and start doing... successfully.

I am pretty sure I will work with some lower division teams to get my feet wet.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:53 AM #9
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So, I've been trolling over at ProPaintball.com, reading the chatbox.

From what is being said over there, Vicious has "taken over" X-Factor's sponsorship and the Men are going to go after Aftermath players.
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Old 10-16-2009, 05:27 PM #10
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I am just returning to the sport after a 3 year hiatus, and can't really return until I deal with this cancer thing... but I feel like these problems need not be 'dealt with' but instead 'fixed.'

The comment about pro players trying to stick out to get picked up by a pro team and earn a free ticket I don't think should be looked down upon. What other real professional sport doesn't do just that? the only difference is the HUGE salaries for the players/coaches/staff.

But paintball doesn't need those huge salaries. Look at Russian Legion. I don't know anymore, but back when I talked with them they were earning like $18,000-$22,000 and it was THEIR JOB. Young and old. Now that was ontop of the costs of everything else. How is this possible? Well... they did exactly what Vicious is doing now. Erase the fact that it's a millionaire banker that funds them you have a facility that trains them. They run a store, a field and **created a market*** I didn't hear much of ANY Russian teams or leagues before them and now there is an increase in both. Federov said in CK2 that only wealthy people played in Russia and I am REALLY interested to know if Sergei has all of his expenses covered because of that or if he has any monetary loss.

What other teams out there pay every player on the roster? I honestly don't know. I would assume Philly AA and Ironmen but, I don't know. I just read about Vicious' Streeball Tourney series that really encourages new players or young players to gain an experience that might get them more into the sport than they would if access to pro player knowledge were more inaccessible, and I'd have to say it worked because they have TONS of fans and support right now and people fly out to participate in those events (my future self included).

That covers it if you have a field, but NEH doesn't so what about you guys? Instead of cutting costs you rely more heavily on investors. So put yourselves in the shoes of an investor. Why would any company like Intel want to give you money to pay salaries ontop of equipment/travel costs? Investors invest because of a return or because it's a donation. There are other minds more suited to figuring these things out, but I would have to say that it lies closely with what I mentioned earlier about making a market. If you can show outside interests that your team travels the world and you do volunteer work while your at it and promote good sportsmanship or help children get off the streets, or a million other possiblities that, again, other more donor/investment minded people can think up better than me =) But I imagine learning from people that are successfull would have something to do with it.

That brings up a good point. Why is it so mysterious what the successfull guys do? Dynasty aside - teams like RL and AA and Ironmen that have this backing? AA and Ironmen have SP and Dye, but AA also has that AWESOME field with tournies and a game room and so much more to offer. Again it's all about marketing. I once saw someone post up in the paintball talk section abouthow all marketing people in the pb industry need to be fired and I pretty much agree with them.

Anywho - other thoughts on how to fix the lack of funds? I don't like to think about 'dealing with' situations, it goes against my beliefs =)

[edit] oh and I totally forgot about the Beatdown City tour that troll is doing. I promise you he's not paying for any of that gear that those comapnies are more than happy to give away... it's all about giving the people with money an incentive to give it to you
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