VFTD first addressed this idea in Paintball Games International magazine back in the days when the printed word still existed. [If you're curious look here (circa 2003 for serious Baca) & here (circa 2005 for not-so-serious Baca) in the Dead Tree Archive.] Today there's not really a debate over the status of competitive paintball as sport so much as there is over just what paintball as sport is or ought to be (and become.) But even as most of us will agree that competitive paintball is sport there remain a lot of different ideas as to just what that really means. Are scenario leagues and the UWL, for example, on equal footing with the WCPPL or the CXBL? But deciding how elastic our definition of competitive paintball is is only an aspect of one of the current roadblocks. The bigger issue is that we all have a general idea of what paintball as sport means but not an agreed upon concrete definition or shared abstract vision and in even the most basic conversations there is a tendency to conflate "sport" with all the other bits & pieces that form the game as we see it today. Let me explain.
Here's an easy one for you. Making a buck off paintball isn't paintball the sport. (I said it was easy.) Satisfying the customer isn't paintball the sport either. (Think about that one for a second and you may see where this is leading.) The local recreational field isn't paintball the sport. Neither is PBIndustry. Players of competitive paintball aren't paintball the sport. Even competitive paintball leagues aren't paintball the sport.
Here's a different take. Is LeBron James basketball the sport? Or the Chicago Bears the sport of football? Does the MLB have a monopoly on the sport of baseball? In each instance the answer is no. (Despite the best efforts of the United States Congress.) In each preceding instance there is a connection but an association or relationship does not confer sports status on everything and everyone involved.
At this point you're either confused or going, yeah, so what? Here's the thing. There has been a lot of conversation lately in the comments about what is good for the sport of paintball and what isn't. And who ought to do what to make things better. Or who ought to be involved and who shouldn't and on and on. But it seems to me that most of that sort of talk is both premature and not particularly productive and one of the reasons is because we don't really know what competitive paintball the sport is yet. And until there is some sort of consensus a large portion of the ongoing dialogue is simply us talking past each other much of the time.
More on this subject next time but in the meantime here's a question or two to consider. How would you define paintball as sport? And once you've got that figured out: Whose in charge of protecting/preserving/promoting competitive paintball as sport? And who ought to be?