Is paintball a sport or entertainment? Several televised and leisure activities border both terms. Some would argue that both terms are connected, but I disagree. They may depend on each other for success but still stand alone in their ideals.
A Sport by definition is an activity requiring a certain skill and often of a competitive nature. With that in mind it does qualify. Is that enough to help it survive I often wonder? As video games and the age of on demand TV quickly take root in our youth, less and less seem interested in the physical demands of paintball.
Entertainment is something that affords pleasure, most often a performance of some kind. This is a crucial part of any activity we undergo. Or interest must be gained and maintained for us continue. Does paintball succeed in keeping players entertained? I have sat in conferences that explain paintball as an entertainment sport. I don’t believe that one aspect can not survive without the other.
It has gotten more affordable in the attempt of the industry to farm new players with varying budgets. Some players gear up and go out to play at their local field. More often than not they are mixed in with players of greater skill. Sometimes to fill out the field and others to offer fodder for better players. Sport for some and wasted money fro others. Many of the unfortunate “newby” players never want to play again. More often than not it is not because of the costs of playing but the lack of entertainment.
Some players that do wish to continue on their paintball journey become “rouge” players. Not wishing to be constant targets they fill the local woods and backyards anywhere they can. Safety and rules are thrown out the window for these people that were driven away from organization. Most of accidents in paintball happen in these small groups of underground players. Many games can be played outside of the competitive nature with little personal risk. Paintball must be an organized due to its dangerous nature. To be considered entertainment it must be organized.
Educating parents and players is a challenge that has been on the industries shoulders from the start. The attempt to make the sport mainstream, in my impression, unfortunately failed. Without a media outlet it is had to speed the education process. We know that people fear what they don’t understand. Parents’ fear often out weight children’s’ desires. They must feel comfortable letting their children play such games. This must be achieved to make it a “sport”.
A balance must be achieved for the paintball to survive. Strong leadership must be established to make the necessary change in the paintball industry. It will be in charge of bringing the sport and entertainment aspects together. I don’t know weather it is the job of a single person or a council. It may very well be someone from outside the industry that has the answer. The fact is however unavoidable and must come to pass. Not until then will it be accepted by the masses as a sport of entertainment.