Thursday, July 8, 2010

The B* Word

The first articles I recall seeing in a paintball magazine itemized what belonged in your gearbag, how to treat snake bite and how to avoid burnout. That was at least 15 years ago. At least two of those articles could appear in any current magazine--even Rich Telford's Wide World of Paintball (Facefull for those of you outta the loop)--and not seem out of place. I bring up the ancient history to demonstrate that even in paintball there are few things that are new, including today's topic, burnout. The B* word. Burnout isn't anything new. But the way we talk about it--or don't talk about it, is.
Back in the day burnout was a common topic in magazines and conversations throughout rec and tourney paintball. The definition of burnout was a generic malaise and loss of excitement and desire to play--and could as easily effect the guy who played rec ball a couple times a month as the hardcore traveling pro or the Big Game aficionado or local 3-man superstar. I can't recall there was much effort to explain the causes, more like it was just assumed that some ballers would catch the burnout bug so most of the talk was about how to deal with it and (hopefully) come out the other side once again a happy baller. Much of the advice I remember seemed to boil down to "man up" "walk it off" and "take a little time off."
So when did things change? When did we stop talking about burnout as a commonplace occurrence and start obsessing over the causes? And has it done any good? It was a different paintball world when I started playing so I'm wondering if all the modern supposed causes of people losing interest in playing (burnout) are just the latest "answers" that may have little to do with the real causes. Are there 'real' causes or is it just the nature of the game and the players that interest wanes for some over time no matter what we do or don't do? If burnout is something that will always be with us maybe we need to reconsider some or all the "fixes" we bandy about for saving the game.


Missy Q said...

I wish you wouldn't be so cryptic. I came here thinking you were going to talk about a completely different B-word.
Now I feel cheated..

Reiner Schafer said...

Are burnout and boredom (loss of excitement) the same thing? I used to think of burnout as not being able to deal with the stress of trying to do much. But I'm not sure if I go tit right.

There has and always will be burnout and/or boredom in paintball, just as there is in virtually any other activity. I don't think there is an industry wide fix possible for that. There does seem to be a fairly high attrition rate in competitive paintball due to "burnout" in my opinion, so that might be something that should be looked at. That would have to do with the resorces needed (time and financial) to take part. I don't know if there is much interest to really do anything about it though. The people that DO stick with it, really seem to like the way things are (most of it anyway), so I really don't see much changing, in the foreseeable future anyway.

TargetIndy said...

I've been in paintball for 20 years--nearly 15 of it involved in the industry side of things. Burnout is inevitable, we all go through it.

I'm a field owner now, and I've had a lot of conversations about it with a friend of mine who's a store owner. Even we still go through the burnout cycles. What we've found over the years is that the burnouts come more frequently, but they don't run as deep.

It used to be that we'd hit a burnout, back when we were just players, and we'd take a few months off until the urge struck us to play again. That'd happen every year or so.

Fortunately, the burnout usually coincided with the end of tournament season. We'd have all winter to focus on something else, and were ready to play once the weather broke and the next tournament season began. A decade or so later, the burnouts come more frequently, but they only last for a few days.

For us though, paintball has become more than just a hobby. We're neck deep (or deeper) in the culture of the game. Most of our friends are paintball, our jobs keep us thinking about paintball on a daily basis. Walking away from all that would mean walking away from our identity. For us, paintball is terminal--we're never getting out alive.

For me, the key to getting through the more severe burnouts is getting back to the basics, getting back to what brought me into this sport in the first place. Every July, I make a pilgrimage to the Michigan Monster Game. There, I'm not a field owner, a tournament producer, or the guy handing air services for 1000+ players. I'm just a player.

At the Monster Game, I don't care if my side wins or loses. I don't care if I'm not on that field every second of the game. I'm just playing for the sake of playing and enjoying the company of good friends.

We all got into paintball because it was fun. Keeping it fun is the key to making it through the burnout.

J-Bird said...

i think for everybody it's a bit different, but for me it's turning a paintball outing/event into a social event where i get to hang out with my buddies and have a fun day of play.

also, bringing new people into the sport can be a ton of fun.

Anonymous said...

With the younger tournament players of today burnout is more long lasting if not nearly permanent as decisions of what to do with ones life must intrude college, career, family etc.