"You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...
And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
That was written by Hunter S. Thompson, an influence in my life, in no small part because he was my father-in-law's best friend throughout most of his life. Oh, the stories Gene used to tell of Hunter and their days as carefree young men. That quote, in particular, means quite a bit to me, and I think is significant to the world of Paintball.
Wasn't it just a few short years ago when we were all hailing having 2 professional leagues as "good for the sport?" We thought the competition between the two would mean better things for the players. As each competed with the other for business, they would continue to introduce a more player-friendly environment. What nobody payed any attention to was the cost of that enterprise and how it would eventually affect the environment for players. What nobody seemed to care about was anything but themselves. As if those sponsorship dollars were endless and we could continue going to 10 tournaments domestically and 5 in Europe and it was all good because the promoters had to keep making things better for us.
And now, after lessons have been learned... every player fighting for any scrap that can even get them to a tournament, any tournament... we still have 10 domestic tournaments being held (4 PSP, and 6 total USPL events). More internal division about how this sport should manage itself at the top levels.
And none of the last two paragraphs are news to anybody. It's been talked about a little, but lately nobody is crying foul. Mostly because there's nothing we can do. The USPL and PSP are here to stay for now, and I'm not jerk enough to hope one of them fails soon. Yes, I breathed a sigh of relief when the NPPL went under, if only because it seemed like an opportunity for the sport to unite and our industry to get a bit of a break. And now? I like Chuck and Tom and Camille. I like Lane and Keely. Once again I'm stuck not being able to root against someone because I want them both to somehow (magically) succeed.
In Hunter's quote above, he talks about seeing the high water mark. Does anybody want to hazard a guess as to where the low water mark is going to be? Is having a choice of format or league always going to be in our best interests? I wish I had the Right Kind of Eyes. I would love to know where we are going to be in 3 years. Or, even the end of this year.