Hmmmmm, feels a little like I’m about to open a big can of worms here. Is paintball a sport? Good question. In fact, type it into Google and the clever search engine will no doubt have already pre-empted your query,; that’s ‘cos so many players ask this very question.
I really want to look at both sides of this, as I spend most of my time dealing with ‘scenario’ paintball rather than ‘tournament’ paintball, so a little background information is required before we go any further. I’ve just dusted off my old copy of The Oxford English Dictionary and, under ‘S’, it defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. Well this certainly covers paintball right? Interestingly enough it never mentions rules, which I would probably use to distinguish a sport from a simple game? Oh well.
However when a stag-do rocks up for a Saturday afternoon’s worth of fun and games, where they might capture a haunted fortress or storm an enemy village whilst under attack, you can’t really call that a sport. Can you? Can getting one over on your mate, who’s dressed as Rodger Rabbit by the way, really count as a sport? Well people play pool and darts down the pub everyday, and they’re counted as sports.
But paintball’s different. In fact, this debate has raged amongst the paintball community since the first ever series of woodsball tournaments. Personally, I think the reason the debate exists is because paintball is just so much damn fun. Whoever invented golf, for example, obviously thought ‘well, this is pretty dull, but if we make it a sport it will instantly become at least 150% cooler’ (my apologies to whichever great fellow Scot came up with golf…). However with paintball, its already fun, exhilarating and entertaining – so there’s no reason to make it into a sport. Much like white water rafting. And, as I mentioned before, there is an online drive at the minute to try and get paintball accepted into the 2012 London Olympics!
To summarise, on one hand paintball is a fun recreational activity that anyone of any fitness can play on a regulated paintball site. Whereas on the other hand, paintball is fiercely competitive team pursuit, which has league tables, trophies, international teams and is even shown on ESPN (“The Worldwide Leader in Sports”), so who’s right?
By all accounts and definitions paintball can certainly be classed as a sport, but it comes in many forms and the most popular form, role-play ‘scenario’ paintball, is simply all about having a great time with mates in amongst the game zones. What do you all think?