In my job as a facilitator of paintball games, I’m often amazed by the lack of commitment and respect for others No, not lack of respect for others on the field, although that can be a problem as well, but I’m talking about the disrespect in lack of commitment.
Rarely do we get a group at our field where the total number of pre-registered guests show up at the field. This is even true for groups where the individuals within the group have paid a deposit. I’ve noticed for a long time that there has been a cultural change where people don’t feel as obligated to follow through on commitments they have made. For that matter, people hesitate to even make commitments these days. It’s almost like they know beforehand that something might come along that will keep them from honouring any commitment they might make, so they rarely make any. Almost all sports are suffering for it. Participation in virtually every major sport is down, paintball included, especially competitive paintball where the commitment is a big one.
In our own business (recreational paintball field), I’ve noticed a big shift over the years from advanced pre-booked groups to many more drop-in players. I constantly get calls these days asking if we are open because the caller and a couple of friends thought it would be neat to come and play paintball for a few hours. It’s spur of the moment decision making, rather than well in advance planning.
Statistics Canada says that participation in organized sports by adults was down to 28% (7.3 million) in 2005 from 34% (8.3 million) in 1998, and 45% (9.6 million) in 1992. That’s a substantial drop. Adults weren’t the only ones dropping out. Teens (15 to 18) went from 77% in 1992 to 59% in 2005. This indicates to me that the adult participation drop isn’t due to an aging adult population, although that does factor in. The number one reason cited was lack of time.
People have become busier over the years. I know I certainly have. My parents seemed to have a much less busy life and their parents even more so. There are just so many more things to see and do and take part in today. And we all seem to want to try so many different things. I think it’s part of the “me” generation. My generation was taught that we should do and try anything we wanted. And we want to try it all. Past generations did what was “expected of them”, giving up self indulgences for the good of their family. My kids’ generation is even more self indulgent and I assume the next generation will be the same or more so. There is no room for commitment anymore.
Is it any wonder that competitive paintball participation is sliding? Is it really all that much different than any other sport that needs participants to make huge commitments? Throw in the fact that it’s very expensive to take part and many sponsorships have disappeared, competitive paintball is facing a huge uphill battle. Those of you that have made the commitment to competitive paintball, I suggest you hold on tight, because it’s going to be a rocky ride. Things are going to get tougher before they get better