This was the perfect time to drag out this hoary old chestnut 'cus otherwise I had nothing. (Title is link to ProPaintball story. Thanks, guys!) This particular rumor is fast becoming a tourney paintball tradition, like watching the annual broadcast of 'A Christmas Story' or 'It's a Wonderful Life' during the holidays. Oddly, it seems the less likely it is to be true the more credence it gets from the riff-raff. (That would be you people.) The first couple of times the rumor made the rounds it was both quasi-true and quasi-believable. You see, once upon a time (around the time the talk of NPPL 3.0 rising Phoenix-like from the ashes of Pacific Paintball's bankruptcy began to entice a number of pro teams) the paint giants very likely could have enforced a one national league only policy. They had grumbled about it before but nothing ever came of it because they (the paint giants) were also locked in competition amongst themselves and none of them trusted the others enough to believe any bargain made would hold. (Probably because they were all trying to figure out to gain an advantage in the process.)
When this rumor first appeared the paint giants also had something they don't have anymore. Leverage. Okay, they have some but nothing like what they once had because their leverage was predicated on cash money. You see, the price of doing business has changed. Back in the (hay)day the paint giants took loses to be showcased at the biggest events and considered it part of the cost of doing business. Not so much anymore. Not that they're making money at the big events but how much it costs them matters now. As does how much they are willing to pay for the privilege. Back when the paint giants were putting six figures plus into a league they had (some) leverage. Today, not so much. They pay considerably less and consequently have less leverage.
Keep in mind they (paint giants) continue to compete against each other, too. If giant B sponsors league X now giants A & C have to decide if they need to counter that effort. That is a difficult environment in which to agree on much of anything.
Interestingly enough there is one place the paint giants retain very serious leverage and that is with sponsored teams. Despite the fact most teams get less paint than used to be the case it is of critical importance to the survival of many teams. The downside the paint giants would face to throwing their weight around with sponsored teams is that many teams participate in one league only and those that get more exposure by playing more are at a premium. The trend has been less about controlling who plays where than it has been maintaining a portfolio of teams for the least amount of sponsored paint.
There have also been times when the leagues were serious about possible mergers. That seems less likely as well because the core question is what does each side bring to the table? NPPL 3.0 doesn't offer much other than demands. It doesn't bring the dominate format. Or truckloads of the infrastructure of putting on a traveling tournament. Or ranks of loyal teams. Or an infusion of cash. Mostly it would bring a bunch of teams that feel entitled to a piece of the pie. Would the PSP be better off after merging with the NPPL?
Is it possible some of the big industry players are grousing again? You betcha. Does it mean anything? Not much. Is it possible a league has been making discreet inquiries about the possibility of discussing a merger? It's happened before. Is there a chance something will come of it this time around? (If there is a this time around.) I don't see it happening because I don't see how the pieces fit together beneficially for all concerned. Still, this Paintball and stranger things have happened.