By Mike Paxson
Never in the history of any major paintball event have they ever canceled an event. Initially, I argued that they would never even consider canceling it because of issues like players having to cancel flights, car rentals, and hotel reservations, then refunding entries, on top of the big loss of money that the NPPL would have to suffer without, but seeing what Ike left behind, it was the best decision for them to cancel. What's worse? Having an event that sucks with extra issues like no power, bad traffic (because of no power), no water, low water pressure, or contaminated water, OR just canceling an event and blaming it on extremely bad weather?
The morning after Ike, we were one of the lucky few to still have power. We (Bea and I) stayed with Diego from Thursday, Sept. 11, before Ike came (Saturday night) all the way until Sept 23rd. Over 2.1 million customers of the local electric company were said to have no power out of the total customer base of 2.9 million.
We were also lucky to all have taken showers before the water pressure dropped, but later that same day, the water pressure for us returned. However, water contamination was a concern, so they issued a boil-water warning.
Diego, who came from Brazil four years ago, didn't have his windows covered with board nor did he have any kind of coverage, for that matter. So, Bea kept on asking, "Should we go to Tank's or to John and Matt's since they have their windows boarded up?" Diego was all, "Nah. We'll be fine." Sure enough, Tank, John, and Matt, two different households, were both without power, but not us! We woke up to the air-conditioning, which was blasting at 68 degrees!
Tank, by the way, is that big guy that worked for Archon and then worked for Procaps after the merger? Well, now Tank just got released from Procaps. I have a feeling, though, Tank wasn't surprised. Procaps just let go of Craig Miller, too, someone who's been with the Draxxus side of Procaps for a very long time. As for who John and Matt Jackson are, John helps manage a paintball store in Houston, and Matt aka "Fuzzy" is real close to playing pro. Both the brothers also formed the team Archon Army a few years back, but is no longer in the circuit. They both still actively play, though, and we got a chance to play with them over the weekend when the NPPL Houston event was supposed to take place. (Picture by Matt Nelson: At Tank's Paintball in Katy, TX)
For the next 5 days after Ike, there was at least a 2-hour wait to get gas. Some gas stations were running out of gas, making it more difficult for people to get it. Grocery stores were out of power, too, and some corner gas stations were trying to do their best to at least sell dry goods. Even from the day that I left for San Diego for a DYE photo shoot, Houston still looked like a quasi-ghost town - stores were still closed because of a lack of electricity. The traffic lights, too, were still out at 4-way intersections, making it really difficult to get around.
Most of the hotels were out of electricity, so even if the NPPL event still would have gone on as planned, teams would've had to scramble to find a place to lay and bathe. The driving situation to and from the venue would've been a herendous experience, too, but because FEMA was taking up the parking lots at Reliant Stadium. Most of the restaurants in the area were closed, as well. And anyway, can you imagine us having a paintball event during a time when everything else in the city was basically out of comission? We probably would've had no real local spectators who had money to spend for vendors to sell to, either.
So, even though I thought they never would've done it, I'm in full support of the NPPL canceling the event. I'm sure that no one lost more money on the event canceling than the NPPL and Pacific Paintball. I heard people were complaining about having to pay a change fee of anywhere between $75 to $300 (international travelers). Well, I lost just as much, if not more, but bitching about it does me no good. We stayed an extra weekend to play at Tank's Paintball in Texas (like I mentioned earlier), and held a clinic on Saturday for real cheap and played along side and against Houston locals on Sunday.
I'm glad I went to Houston and even got to meet old friends, and be introduced to new ones, all because of Ike. Sucks we didn't get to compete, but now we can save it for World Cup and San Diego. Oh, and finally, the hurricane winds were similar to what we went through in Florida when Fay came through the Sunshine State. We were west of the City of Houston. The areas to get it the worst were east and south (Galveston) of Houston. Hopefully they'll get back on their feet soon. Just be glad you didn't have to suffer the loss that the people of Galveston did.
See you at Cup. I'm in Florida now until Disney's Wide World of Sports opens its grounds up to us. If you want something to do in December, and feel charitable, it'd be great to see you at the Lauren's Hope event at the Carolina Paintball Park in North Carolina. Fly into Charlotte and play 3-man PUMP X-Ball, a race to 3 - yes, an X-Ball event using pump guns.