May 5, 2008

What Makes Paintball?

What REALLY Makes Paintball Special?

I am an older player who has been around the game for a long time; I have the advantage of looking at the sport of paintball a little different than other people.

I have played organized sports at a competitive level my entire life: hockey, baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, golf and basketball. I can say that paintball players are a special breed of athlete. Perhaps that is the wrong word; paintballers are a special breed of people.

Paintball players are predominantly young men who play the game jacked up on adolescent hormones, adrenaline and energy drinks. The primary equipment needed to play the game can cause serious injury if used incorrectly and the participants play the game unsupervised, for the most part.

At the field and in online forums you can find people talking smack. Putting down other players because of the style of paintball they play or the equipment they use. When you put all of these ingredients together they look like a recipe for a brawl at best or full-out riot at worst. Yet paintball is the safest extreme sport in the world and one of the safest sports, period.

I have given a considerable amount of thought to the reason why. To the public, paintball appears dangerous and violent, but it is in fact, a true gentlemen’s sport.

The reason the game is as safe and popular as it is, is YOU--the player! Despite how it looks to outsiders, and what happens away from the field, the sport of paintball is special because of you. Each and every paintball player, in some way, contributes to the greatness of the game as a whole.

At the rec-ball field, there are neither soccer moms nor football dads screaming at their kids to play better and win at all costs. There is no external pressure on any players, so everyone can be themselves, which brings out the best in everyone.

The next time you are at the baseball diamond or soccer field take a look around. What do you see? Kids being pressured to live up to the expectations of their parents, stats and record sheets showing how this group of kids is better than that group of kids, league officials and coaches bickering over rules. In short, there is organized chaos and a distinct lack of love for the game.

Take a look around the next time you are at the paintball field. What do you see? Paintballers, that’s it -- just paintballers. A bunch of people who just want to go out and have fun playing the game they love.

Players at every field are pretty much the same. I have walked up to Team Delta at EMR, Thor Omega at Skirmish USA, logged on to a discussion forum in Ireland and have been treated with the same respect as when I am talking to the group of new players at my local field.

'Ballers are 'ballers no matter where you go. Every one of you should be proud of what you have created, a worldwide brotherhood of paintballers. A sport that is special because of the character of the participants, not because of wins and losses.