Sunday, May 22, 2011

Simple Sports

Relatively simple sports that are inexpensive to take part in, seem to be the most universally popular sports. It makes sense. The game of soccer for instance is probably the most popular sport in the world. It can be played virtually anywhere there is some bare land (grass covered preferred, but not necessary), and people have a single ball to kick around. Sure in more organized soccer players probably have special shoes (soccer cleats) and shin pads, but that's about it.
The more technology there is in a sport, chances are that less people are going to take part, especially if the technology cost more money. How many of us drive Indy cars? Bobsled anyone?
When the technology becomes a big influential factor in whether a competitor might win or lose, the technology might become more important than the athlete.
If the goal in competitive paintball is to attract a larger number of participants, are we really doing ourselves any favours by not restricting technology to the point where the competition is between athletes and not technology?
Is there a market for a "pure" paintball athletic competition? A competition that uses very basic technology and provides/allows the same number of paintballs for everyone? A competition where everyone is truly on the same playing field playing with exactly the same marker with exactly the same amount of ammunition; a small amount of ammunition so that even the "poorest" teams could afford to practice regularly? Or is everyone so in love with the technology in our sport that we cannot give that up for pure athleticism? And how many potential competitive players are we leaving out because they just can't keep up? My guess is a LOT more than are currently taking part.
What would happen if we started over; if we scrapped most of the technology from competitive paintball? If every player had to use the same basic marker with the same basic barrel, loader, and air system. If every player had the same number of paintballs on the field? Would the game die? Would no one want to play paintball because it would no longer be fun? I don't believe paintball would die. I think some would throw up their arms and leave, but I think the true "competitors" would still compete. The "athletes" would hang around. And I think more would join the ranks once the "arms race" was taken out of the equation.
Almost everyone I know that has tried to get into competitive paintball has dropped back out because competing was too expensive. Yet I know lots of people that have played soccer for many, many years. They love the competitiveness of the game. They can afford a new pair of soccer cleats every once in a while. They can afford the game they love. Why can't paintball be more like that?

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