Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paintball Myths

There's a thread in the WCA (Asia) forum at the Nation about girls in paintball. Specifically about girls playing at World Cup Asia but as such posts always do it quickly devolved into the usual irrational nonsense--except for one sensible girl, IceBox. (You go girl!) Let me see if I have this right: Girls are every bit the equal of guys, Grrl Power, girls are tough, capable and can do anything a guy can do. Except, apparently, on a paintball field where if the girls aren't treated with the utmost care like little porcelain dolls they'll run away and never come back again. So when there aren't enough girls playing paintball it's all the guys' fault. Newsflash: I hate to break it to you but that's a cognitive disconnect, kids. Pick one. You can't have both.
How many girls play Airsoft?

On the flipside there's the common claim (almost invariably offered up by young males) that competitive paintball (and depending on the conversation pretty much all other forms of paintball) demands aggressive hardcore play--and as a hyper aggressive game it's not for everybody who isn't drenched head-to-toe in testosterone. Every time I read one of those kind of posts it makes me smile. It's the (unintended) gift that just keeps on giving. Especially the ones in which the writer really seems to believe it. One of the unwritten truths of paintball is that most of the (younger in particular) participants have little to no sports backgrounds. (And for purposes of this post and the point being made baseball doesn't count unless you use your Louisville Slugger for a Saturday night rumble with the Jets or the Sharks.) If they did they'd know how silly their claims are. And then there's what you see on most fields the world over. I'm sorry but hiding behind your primary spraying away at 12 bps pod after pod is not raw untempered aggression. And that heart-pumping adrenaline dump that makes 5 minutes seem like an eternity? That's not berserker aggression, it's called fear. But whatever you do keep writing those posts, kids. I can always use the laugh.


raehl said...

I do think it's less likely for girls to reach the upper levels of competitive paintball because we don't separate girls from guys on the competitive field. Not because girls are in any way not able to compete (paintball is full of successful players who, in other sports, would be far worse players than many girls), but because we expose them to the boorish behavior of their male peers.

I can only assume that trying to participate in an activity can be quite annoying if every time you do it you have to tolerate many of our current players. Not all, but enough to add a challenge to female players being successful.

Of course, there are other challenges - as a society, we still have some overall gender bias and there are less women in sports in general - but we don't help ourselves any.

At least we're past the phenomenon of the "girls team" - what a disaster that was.

Mark said...

Wait, I've seen many Emo boys show up at the field wearing their skinny jeans with the customary hair flip tic, not an ounce of testosterone on display, that doesn't count?

Anonymous said...

Paul, that could be your best post ever. No so much about the girls. Although that was accurate. But the disconnect and completely anti-sports minded people playing paintball. It's astounding how ignorant most paintball players are about the way sport functions.

And Raehl, did you vote for Obama?

Go Jags. :)

Reiner Schafer said...

We do seem to get our fair share of players who haven't fared too well in other sports. Heck, in all honesty, I, and probably most other field owners, use it as a promotional tool, telling people they don't have to be great athletes to have fun playing paintball. Unfortunately, many of those players seem to have pent up frustrations. Years of being ridiculed and embarrassed and not quite fitting in playing other sports take their toll. Unfortunately, that frustration seems to get transferred by their psyche down to their trigger finger when they get on a paintball field. Though not particularly aggressive, with the aid of their high tech marker, they finally can be aggressive and compete, at least in their minds.

The problem for me, as a recreational paintball field owner is that most of those players finally realize that they can't really compete after all, in higher level competitive paintball, and therefore hang out at the local recreational field, where they can release their pent up frustrations (through their trigger finger) with relative ease. At the rec field, they can be the BMOC (Big Man On Campus), so to speak.

We keep this under decent control with our higher paintball prices, but at most fields in North America, this is a huge problem.

As for girls in paintball, it's very difficult to lose the primal instinct of wanting to stand out and get attention. The "girl's team" is a perfect example. You can't expect to seriously compete, when you are drawing from a pool that makes up much less than 5% of the player base. You can however expect to get attention, which is exactly what they want. As far as the guys go, you can't expect the guys to be able to turn it on and off when arriving at, and leaving the paintball facility. We're not wired that way.

Justion @ ProPaintball said...

Those girls at WCA in D1 - Poison Ivy (?) - were a solid team. I watched them demolish a few teams. Pretty neat to watch an all-girls team not only make it to sunday, but they brought the heat.

Lucky for me the brackets worked out and I didn't have to play against them.

chris said...

I played a little bit of tackle football when I was younger (12), and before that was a swimmer from infant age up to about 8 (my Mother likes to show off the "medals"... sigh) and from 8-10 or so some little league baseball.

But really that was my only exposure to participation in sports, other than the occasional throw together game of something (soccer, football, baskeball)

In the jr & high school ages I was not a sports guy. In fact, all the people I played on my paintball team, I think only 1 had actually played serious competitive team sports (football) and since they started paintball they weren't doing that either.

If anything, I always thought to myself, the guys playing paintball were kind of dorks who didn't fit the mold, but wanted to do something fun and "aggressive" anyway.

Missy Q said...

I especially like it when they celebrate a win, get all excited, and then start making out with each other hard-core...

Don Saavedra said...

Just like Dynasty.

ScotchMonster said...

Reminds me of a Betty White quote. "I don't know why they are always saying 'grow some balls, those things are so small, soft and tender. You should really try to grow a vagina, now those really take a pounding."