After reading countless posts across the ProPaintball website, it became very clear to us that there is considerable confusion within the community. Three topics seem to be rehashed on a weekly basis — the NPPL-PSP merger, the future of the PSP and a “chosen” format. Additionally, paintball players, coaches and team owners have been discussing the concept of limited paint in competitive paintball. There are various degrees of uncertainty out there due to rumors floating around the paintball community. As such, ProPaintball decided an interview with PSP Commissioner Lane Wright would help clear the air. Lane is known industry wide as a straight shooter and everyone here at ProPaintball has been looking forward to reading his thoughts on the matter. Read on as Lane sets the record straight.
ProPB: Lane, you shared a note in December 2010 that painted a bleak future for tournament paintball. ProPaintball insiders rumored that after sending the letter, the PSP implemented several cost cutting measures to change the league’s direction. What can you tell us about the PSP’s finances and the difference between the 2010 and 2011 seasons?
Lane @ PSP: First, since you asked it first, I’m glad to say the 2011 season has been a very successful one for PSP. Barring a complete catastrophe at World Cup, this will be the best business year we have ever had. I’d love to be able to say that my decisions earlier in the year were the catalyst for the rebound. But, I can’t. While I do believe they succeeded in some areas, I can’t honestly say those decisions were the driving force in the attendance this year. I do think they helped.
Lane @ PSP: My opinion is that the years of effort prior to this season have been the key to the seasons success. I believe we have a format that teams feel give them the best chance at a fair and equitable competition. I believe the years of training and the decisions from years ago to put our money and efforts into referee programs, as opposed to other more glamorous areas, have helped tournament players grow respect for the fact that we put our efforts into things that actually do something tangible for them as opposed to just things that make them feel good. PSP has never made being “sexy” our priority. We have always believed that the slow steady approach, an emphasis on the actual product as opposed to the window dressing, and having our goal be that the best team has the best chance to win is the way to maintain our model.
Lane @ PSP: That’s not to say that we don’t spend effort and time looking into other areas. We certainly do. I simply try to manage our efforts so that the tournament and the competitive player are always topping the priority list. I believe we have accomplished that goal for the most part. We are set to take some steps into the other side of things very soon. We’ll have to wait and see if the timing is right. That’s about all I can say about that.
PPB: What can you tell us about the future of paintball?
Lane @ PSP: The future is both scary and promising. The economy is tough. It’s not only tough here in the US. It’s starting to slide in other places. The European market is a serious state of confusion right now. Whats happening to Greece, the Germans role in that situation, and the eventual effect both of those things will have on the EU are all big topics over there. Italy may be next. The paintball industry has had to shift focus toward Europe as the US economy has slowed. If the EU sees a continuation of it’s current trend, it will have a pretty substantial impact on the paintball market as a whole. With finances in paintball what they are today, having another slide is a scary proposition.
Lane @ PSP: Most paintball players are unaware and unconcerned with the impact this has on the league, the events, and on their team. But we have to pay attention and act on what we know and think will happen. We try to stay ahead of the curve even when some of the current player base doesn’t like it. I think we have done a pretty good job of that. Not perfect. But pretty good. We’re still here and we are doing well. So that’s a win for us and the teams.
Lane @ PSP: While all of that is happening and scary, there are some other things going on behind the scenes that look promising and exciting. As usual, we’re not out tooting our horn or making grandiose promises. We’d rather show what we got than talk about it. We’ve always been all about the league and it’s ability to continue into the future. We’ve always reinvested everything back into the business. The problem has been that most of the time there was little or nothing left. But, this year has been a good one. Probably an average year for people running a good business. But for PSP, it has been very good. There are some issues from the past that are still hanging over our heads. But we’re doing what we can to handle them properly and we’ll keep going.