Answer: When it comes to budgeting.
The primary difference between a personal or household budget and the Federal budget is that with a personal budget (with rare exception) INCOME represents a finite monthly amount and the OUTGO must be a lesser amount (or at worst match it). Otherwise you’re forced into cost-saving measures like losing the house, selling your gear (or finding an additional source of income that will prevent you from doing other things you’d much rather be doing).
Of course we all know that the Federal budget is not under any such restraint. OUTGO almost always exceeds INCOME – seemingly with little or no consequences. But then Congress has the ability to adjust their income whenever they want to by the simple expedient of raising taxes, or simply by printing more money.
This is why, in many respects, the playing of paintball (especially on the competition level) is much like the Federal budget. When teams need to shoot more paint, they simply ‘print more’ (with little or no consequence) by the customary expedient of hitting their sponsors up for more dollars.
Much like Reaganomics, there is a trickle-down effect as well: unsponsored teams are forced to raise their own paint consumption to keep up with the Joneses, the recreational players that watch everyone practice think its ‘neat’ to shoot so much paint, the scenario/milsim ballers adopt tournament tech and before you know it, everyone is writing checks for paint that they can ill-afford.
And the sponsors begin to stare an economic crises square in the face.
Chris Raehl has a piece in the latest edition of SplatXD that addresses the issue (albeit from a recreational field point of view). In it, he provocatively suggests that rec players (casual players, walk-ons) should be paying twice as much for their paint. The suggestion is an editorial come-on designed to raise some attention and controversy which it no doubt will but –
the main point is essentially on target. Some mechanism that will encourage the reduction in the consumption of paint will positively affect player’s budgets and may even contribute directly to greater enjoyment of the game by the casual player.
I have it on good authority from at least one major manufacturer of paintballs (well, actually from two) that the font of all paintball goodness (paintball manufacturers) would much rather see everyone shooting less and playing more – rather than blowing their budget two months into the season and not playing at all for the rest of the year.
The bedrock companies in our industry (or most of them anyway) seem to have finally eschewed short-term profits in favor of long-term growth – a change in philosophy that I personally welcome (and say ‘it’s about time).
So, with that said, I’ll go Raehl one step further and say EVERYONE should be shooting less.
And here’s how.
Tournaments and other major events should immediately put themselves onto a limited paint format.
Or at worst plan for doing so with the inception of the 2010 season.
I know – you all just love making those ropes stream down the field, you all get an orgasmic rush from diddling that trigger and it sure is extremely satisfying when than a-hole from the other team gets what he deserves for having had the arrogance to think he can shoot at you, but:
You all want opponents to play against, you’d all love to practice more, travel to more events, stay on the gravy train another year and (I’m guessing here) want your games to be challenging and require just a little bit of skill, so that when everyone knows who you are and wants to wear your jersey, it actually means something.
Way back in the day (yeah, boring old PB history coming at ya), Jerry Braun hosted a couple of series that tried to get the players to accept limited paint. Back in ’97 I emulated that approach with another attempt – tweaking some of the elements to gain greater acceptance of the concept.
I played in almost all of Braun’s limited paint events and found that it added several different elements to the game that INCREASED the complexity and the enjoyment: teams ‘spied’ on each other to try and figure out how much paint they were taking onto the field with each other or how much they had left for the remaining games, folks invented tactics designed to get the other guy to shoot more, aggressiveness increased: we had to analyze the other teams and guess what kind of shooters they were in order to plan our tactics accordingly, we had to more minutely analyze our draws for the prelims – any number of other interesting tactical elements were introduced.
And what it did for the budget was nothing less than stellar. For the first time, we knew exactly how much it was going to cost for the event. No guessing anymore. We’d be buying X cases – and no more. We’d need Y air – and no more.
It had a direct and positive effect on a team’s ability to compete, because we were able to attend more events.
My own experiments on these lines were greeted with negativity, but I managed to cajole the teams into giving it a try – and carefully followed their input as things progressed. Once they started playing on a level budgetary field, everyone agreed that limited paint was not a detriment, it added positive elements to the game AND it was even possible to DECREASE the paint limit, now that they were familiar with it.
The benefits go beyond making the game a little more complex and tactically interesting – even beyond making more events per team affordable. Limiting paint also introduces a greater degree of access to more teams. I’d venture to guess off the top of my head that there are at least as many teams out there that don’t play a national circuit because of budgetary constraints than there are teams currently attending. And that’s just on the national level.
Sponsors will obviously benefit, since ANY degree of limitation will staunch the blood loss of open-ended paint sponsorship (and the same for teams that supplement paint budgets out of their own pocket). I expect that under such a scheme, sponsors will be able to either support teams more deeply, add teams to their rosters, increase their direct support of events – or perhaps all three.
And finally – doing so will bring paintball more in-line with other professional sports. You don’t have baseball teams fielding multiple pitchers (though that might be ‘interesting’), nor soccer teams fielding as many players as they can afford, nor any other sports analogy I might care to offer, because one hallmark of the rules of professional sports (of all kinds) is that there are limits. Fields are constrained within certain dimensions, there are time limits, roster limits, equipment limits.
I’d like to see the folks who will directly benefit from such an idea begin to get behind it so, sponsors, what do you say?