I’ve brought up the subject before of is paintball a sport or a hobby, but I was discussing it with a mate the other day and came to the conclusion that it entirely depends on how you treat it. Some people will treat it like a sport and others will treat it as a fun hobby; neither is right or wrong. I Googled the idea once again though and found that David has recently covered the same topic on his paintball blog too.
The conclusion I came to when I first blogged about this topic was that, as paintball is largely divided into scenario and tournament paintball, then it could quite possibly be considered both a sport and a hobby. But like I said, I’m now beginning to think that it’s all in the eye of the beholder (or ‘holder of the marker’ or whatever). You see, the way people treat an activity largely determines their enjoyment of it, so some people naturally prefer doing something if there is no pressure to ‘compete’, but others will absolutely enjoy something more if it is competitive. For some paintball is just a fun way to spend time with your mates, go to paintballing birthday parties or stags, or escape from the weekly grind, but for others it’s nothing short of an obsession and many people spend large chunks of their time and money perusing their passion.
Of the friends I know who partake regularly in serious, competitive sport, they dedicate quite a significant chunk of their lives to it. Not just in the training and playing of their chosen sports, but also in the diets, the equipment and, in many cases, the compromises that come with having to look after your body, get up early on a Saturday morning etc. If you’ve ever been down a paintball venue when a stag party’s been in, for example, it might be hard to imagine many people treating paintball in the same, dedicated fashion. But they do. Thousands, if not millions, of players see paintball as a very worthy sport. And rightly so, as it is televised, it’s full of sponsors, endorsement and trophies and the tournaments can be huge, attracting teams from all over the world. Like other sports, paintball has its celebrities too, like Greg Hastings. In terms of what goes into a sport too, paintball definitely ticks all the boxes most sportsmen (and women) would look for: skill, teamwork, fitness, adrenalin, training, competition etc.
However the other side of the debate is just as valid. A lot of people (certainly far more in the UK) see paintball as a hobby or an occasional exciting activity to enjoy (much like mountain biking or white water rafting). Part of its enjoyment is found in the fact that there isn’t any real competition, just the urge to beat your mates: as at the end of a day’s playing you can head off for a bite to eat as equals. Likewise, scenario paintball is largely about escapism: forgetting the 9 – 5 week and throwing yourself head first into movie-like GameZones, where you are given objectives and you have to overcome the odds with the help of your team.
Overall, it doesn’t really matter whether you see paintball as a sport or a game; I think we can all agree that it’s great the way it is and doesn’t really need a definitive tag. As long as it’s always taken seriously and treated with the respect it deserves, then we can all call paintball whatever the hell we like!