Hey look... an elephant

Recently the IFPA announced a $1 per player, per event surcharge being added to their sanctioned events beginning in 2018. Since this announcement, I have seen some very spirited debate over this. I have also spoken to many of the other players who travel nationally to hear their opinion. To be very honest, there hasn’t been too much push-back on this.

A couple points to mention:

  1. THIS HASN’T HAPPENED YET. Doesn’t go into effect until the start of the 2018 season. This is to allow open discussion to take place and determine that this makes sense and will be accepted by the majority

  2. Everyone at the IFPA, especially Josh Sharpe, has been very responsive to everyone’s questions and remarks (even when they are not respectful). I have heard of NO ONE not receiving a response from them. They have also never blocked anyone from sharing their opinions in any discussion or social media platform

  3. The IFPA always has, and always will be 100% transparent in their dealings and financials. You will know exactly where your dollar goes to. No shenanigans

This year marks my 25th year in professional competitive pinball. In 1994 I made my first pitch for major sponsorship from Mt. Dew. I ran my first national tournament over 20 years ago. I state these things to express my love of pinball and my passion as an ambassador of the game.

I don’t have any issue with the IFPA decision. In fact, I don’t think it goes far enough. I would like to see additional coverage for the great personal expenses individuals incur for events. I would like to see more to solicit sponsorship to garner a greater national audience for our sport. But that’s not what this post is about…

With all the discussion of “dollargate”, something else has flown under the radar. Something that troubles me a great deal more. Something that no one is publically discussing, but behind the scenes has a lot of players very upset. Something no one seems to want to question.


In case you are not aware, PAPA is charging a $5 per player, per Circuit Event fee. This has already begun. Started this year.

This really hit home last weekend in OKC at the Cactus Jack’s Silverball Showdown. When speaking to the TD, he was projecting just over $1000 first place prize for the A Division. Outstanding! Then someone mentioned the $5 PAPA fee. 1st Place (won by Trent Augenstein) paid out $830, after taking out $325 payable to PAPA.

Here are my issues with this:

  1. Not much of an announcement made. I’ve heard it was mentioned somewhere. I’m guessing either on here or the other site. I’m not much of a pinball chatroom kind of guy, so not sure where I would have seen this

  2. Since there was no major public announcement, there was no discussion. That’s fine, you don’t need our permission to do this, I guess

  3. I have no idea where my $5 is going and how it will be distributed

  4. Finally, who do I even talk to about this?

I do know some of the cost goes to pressing the medallion for the winner, banner for the venue, and some are going to the prize pool for the Circuit Finals.

I was very happy to hear the news when Kevin Martin had acquired the PAPA brand from Steve Epstein. He and the dozen of team members and family have built a great company that hosts two of the best events of pinball in the world.

But here’s the sticky wicket: Who do I speak to when I have a concern like this? Also, what are the repercussions if I do? Let that sink in. That’s a very real concern. I have spoken to many of the top 100 players in the world. They seem to have the same questions and concerns I do. But nobody says anything. They’re afraid to speak up, and that’s not cool.

Like I said, I appreciate the open door policy the IFPA adheres to. I don’t feel that with PAPA. Kevin is enjoying life, his family, and a well earned extended vacation into retirement. How about Mark? I know he cares, a lot. However, he’s moved, starting a new family, and seems detached from the PAPA core. Doug, Fred, Elizabeth, Jon, Petey…?

Finally, should I be worried about any backlash from raising this question? I shouldn’t, but I am. So is everyone else I have spoken to, so no one has, yet. We fear the Papaluminati :wink:

So I’m putting this out there. So many people concerning themselves with the $1 IFPA fee, but no one is having the discussion about the $5 PAPA fee. I think great knowledge comes from having an open conversation. I hope that can happen. Please feel free to share your opinions. FR

There has been a very long discussion about this topic here on Tiltforums, three months ago.

Nobody seemed afraid to speak up then. There is a clear announcement and long discussion.

In my opinion, your post is pretty far out of bounds. Speculating about Mark and Kevin’s personal situations, when both were present and working at PAPA 20, does not strike me as appropriate.


Ummm… I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the PAPA Circuit $5 fee in recent weeks, in conjunction with IFPA “Dollargate” discussions. As with the WPPR fee, my completely subjective tally is that public opinion seems pretty split down the middle.

And as for how to contact the PAPA crew if you wish to discuss… obviously you know who they all are, or you (anyone) could reach out via the “Contact Us” page on papa.org. They’re all good folks up there (as is Josh and the IFPA crew), no one’s head gets chopped off for critiquing or asking questions. :slight_smile:

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I’m on the board frequently and will answer any questions you’d like to have answered.

The fee is in the Circuit rules:
“Circuit Fee – During the first 5 years, the non-profit Replay Foundation funded the PAPA Tournament Circuit and all related Circuit activities in excess of $100,000. For the 2017-2018 PAPA Circuit, we are instituting a $5 fee per player at each event. It is up to each event how they collect this fee. For example, an event could place a $5 registration fee per entrant, or take it out of the overall prize pool. 100% of the money collected will go towards PAPA Circuit promotion, Circuit Final prize pool, as well as providing some prizes for each event.”

1/2) It was announced before the Circuit season voting and discussed at some length. I don’t think it was discussed as much as the IFPA fee just because, it doesn’t affect as many people.It doesn’t affect many tournaments either as the Circuit only has 20 events, of which 3 are run by PAPA/Replay.

  1. Refer to the Circuit rules for this. Each event gets some measure of prizes and giveaways for the event as well as the medal for the winner.

  2. Ask me! Or Mark, Mark doesn’t do social media, but his email is answered. Technically I’m in charge of the Circuit, but I think either one of us could answer your questions.

No repercussions for asking a question. Are people afraid of repercussions? What could we even possibly do to someone who asked a question? Did Josh Sharpe put you up to this??? :slight_smile:


Well, I read through that entire thread and actually saw almost NO discussion on the $5 fee. Cayle asked a question, and I believe I saw it mentioned one other time. So while indeed it was a very long “discussion”, it was centered primarily on the location for Circuit Events and the voting process.

I can not tell you why no one spoke up at that time. As I mentioned, I’m not on the chat boards. I had to create a profile on here to post this subject. I’m on Facebook, but saw nothing on there.

Again, the catalyst for my post is the amount of discussion (and frankly some childish behavior) surrounding the $1 IFPA fee that hasn’t even gone into effect yet. So why is there no uproar over the $5, that is already in place? That is the entire nature of my question.

I’m not sure why you feel this is “far out of bounds”. I consider Kevin and Mark friends and I don’t believe I wrote anything that would upset them. If I have and they told me so, I would immediately remove it.

Thank you for your response, however. I really do appreciate it.

Thank you, Doug! I did not search the PAPA website for this answer (although I visit the site often). That is a quality answer and one I can live with.

Also, thank you for offering to field questions. I don’t talk about this stuff AT events, as there is enough going on without bringing this into it. I honestly just didn’t know who to reach out to. There’s not as much of a “public face” to PAPA (I would say), as there is over at IFPA. Possibly because there are so many faces in the PAPA family, vs. everyone just bitches directly to Josh about every issue they have, lol.

I hope there is no repercussions or more importantly love lost by raising a question. But yes, there are quite a few players afraid to speak any ill will (or perception of) towards PAPA. That’s just a reality. Myself included. I worked hard to get on that Pinburgh list dammit! :wink: Finally, absolutely not, Josh did not “put me up to this” :smiley:

The real controversy here is how does Zach Sharpe avoid all the criticism?

Little known fact, the IFPA and Circuit fees are his brainchildren. Oh, it’s true!


According to the vicious rumors I started, I heard he forcefully removed a player out of the ifpa world championships who wouldn’t volunteer to give up his spot!


…pay no attention to the man behind the curtain


Yes, but is there video of this?!?


I’m appalled that you would even think that Doug!

Everyone here knows I’ve had nothing but great relationships with PAPA staff going back decades. There’s even photographic evidence showing proof of those positive relationships.


There has always been the fear from some players, (rational or not), that criticism of papa (even if constructive) might make papa “take its ball and go home” so to speak.

I think that is what Fred is talking about in some respects.

I think its great that the papa staff are open to feedback and very positive about engaging players in discussion. But if its not known - there is a bit of legacy feeling by some people to not speak up as they want to keep “playing ball”. We’ll have to get over that :slight_smile:

Nobody wants to incur the wrath of Bowen :wink:


Step #1: Use the Contact Us link on the front of PAPA.org

There is no step 2


The future of PAPA has very little to do with players’ questioning of our actions / motives / etc. We do what we do because we love pinball. We don’t always make the right decisions, but we try hard and do what we genuinely feel is best with the information we have (much of which is not always public). Player criticism or feedback will and has caused change (if we feel it’s worthwhile based on the information we have at the time), but it won’t ever cause PAPA to fold. In other words, player feedback / criticism is more data to help steer the ship, but it will never be the reason the ship sinks.

If players feel they can’t contact us for whatever reason, that is a failure on my and PAPA’s part. If we are going to steward something properly, we need to be approachable. Fred, if you have questions, use that link and contact us.



We need to talk about the real issue plaguing competitive pinball.

The gratuitous use of the phrase “pinball wizard” in local news articles. This madness must stop!!!


While I’m on here, one more thing… I’ve recently heard a resurgence of people assuming there is friction between the IFPA and PAPA organizations. Please, end this rumor; it is not true. I am Director of Operations for the PAPA organization, and I support the IFPA. It can’t be more clear than that. Both organizations frequently work together on different projects (including right now). There is no behind-the-scenes war, and if you think there is, you are mistaken. The only thing that matters is both (and all other) organizations improving pinball for the players and community. End the misrepresentations and nonsense.


Mark, thank you for your candid response. I have never had an issue speaking with you on any matter, and I appreciate that. I guess the general perception of myself and the players I have spoken with is there appears to be no “face” of PAPA or landing spot that is clearly recognized to approach. If you have a question about PAPA stuff, WHO do you go to? Sure there may be an "info@papa.org" but sometimes it feels like yelling down a well, “Hellooooooooo”.

At the end of the day, I guess this isn’t a really big deal. Plenty of companies out there where you send a question to, you have no idea who the person is that’s responding. I suppose I have always felt since I’ve been around the scene so long, you feel close-knit, like a family. So maybe it’s like someone parking in your driveway, you don’t recognize the car, and you don’t know who to approach to ask them to move it, lol. Or maybe that’s just a terrible analogy.

Thank you again for being there and answering our questions. FR

Couldn’t agree more.