Thursday, April 25, 2013

Growing the Game

It used to be the highest moral justification for whatever you chose to do in the realm of paintball was for the love of the game. Nowadays it's a little different. If you claim your actions are aimed at growing the game you get a pass for most anything because what's more important than growing the game? Do the blood, sweat and tears you shed at the paintball field result in new turf or extra bunkers sprouting up perhaps? Or your online support of a particular tournament series? Does that make it better, more appealing or efficient? Or the routine injunction to only say positive things? Is paintball like plants that shrivel when harsh words are spoken or discordant music is played? Is there a peak output for amateur videos on YouTube that when reached will result in growing the sport? Do photos of players diving into the snake grow the sport faster than photos of players tucked behind doritos? But wait there are also those who are equally certain that the demise of a particular tourney series will benefit the sport too. How does less of something indicate growth? Or maybe 'grow the sport' is just the latest nearly meaningless paintball cliche, a mantra for the slack-jawed and semi-literate. Or the latest code phrase used by the in-crowd who somehow conflate how they feel about paintball with actually doing something constructive for paintball.
I don't mean to burst your bubble or deprive you of that warm, fuzzy feeling you had inviting a couple of friends to play paintball with you that time 'cus I think that's swell. Really I do. And who knows, they may keep playing and invite other friends along and that's a good thing. But if you want to make a real if modest difference every time you play give your business to the local field focused on customer service, a safe and friendly game environment--and be a part of that friendly environment when you're there. Use a little common sense and try a little common courtesy and you will always be 'growing the game' wherever you go and whenever you play. Do me a small favor while you're at it? Quit talking about it and just do it.


Missy Q said...

Nice post. Posts like this will grow the game, furreal.
I'm off to grow the game a little myself before supper. The game will be a little larger tomorrow morning - you wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows the best way to grow the game is to hold speedball tournaments in deserted parking lots of empty stadiums!

Anonymous said...

"Growing the sport" is about helping give that positive experience to the people attending the field. It's hanging out with the shy 10year old who is afraid of getting shot and lending him your marker so he feels a bit more confident. It's making a big deal about parents having fun with their kids. It's not all about 1 style of play. Its about giving the kid that never plays a high 5 when he does something great/good/neat NOT about bonus balling him because he shot you out.

Anonymous said...

Walking along the street at Hb I heard one person say to another, "this is my kind of a sport, I could play this." Another group of kids told me they don't play but wanted to find out how to enter the tournament.

We have to realize that by now for anyone young in southern California, Huntington Beach is as much about paintball as it is about the Us Surf Open.

To any new prospective and passing player Hb portrays tournament pain all as the pinnacle of the sport. They don't know and care about league politics but see tourney ball as the top.

Conversely, few if any new players are brought in from Dallas or Mao, but the pba show does make tournament paintball the pinnacle of the sport for dedicated enthusiasts who watch.

Both are good for the sport. No one watching hb said it was a joke or complained about the teams etc etc. Only spoiled paintball in the know online did that.

Reiner Schafer said...

I got all warm and fuzzy just reading that. Thanks Baca.

Old-in-402 said...

Local fields need to invest a little better if they want to grow the sport. Aside from southern California most cities only have 1-2 fields available to them. There is hardly any drive to keep a field in top-notch shape because there is little surrounding competition.

Too many times have I arrived at a field that didn't have a clean port-a-john. The pro-shop was a trailer. Goggles are required in the staging area because the netting was in disrepair. As a player, you shouldn't be expected to provide customer service to the field's customers because that takes away from your enjoyment. The field is the only one responsible for that.

In order to attract people to return to your field you should have 1) running water, 2) electricity, 3) a paid/professional staff. When fields lack these 3 necessities is it any wonder why rogue ballers just fill up at the scuba shop or sporting goods store and rollout into the neighbors/relatives woods? Why should they pay field fees and premium paint prices?

I understand this doesn't really apply to high volume/ always warm weather areas like Florida, Texas, and California, but for the rest of the fucking 47 states it is a problem. I almost think there needs to be a licensing and regulation standard, but imposing it may be too difficult. Any ideas?

Reiner Schafer said...

Old-in-402, so you think rogue ballers are going to go to fields if they have running water, electricity and professional staff. Not saying those things aren’t good, but rogue ballers, as you call them, are the last people looking for amenities. My experience has shown me that rogue ballers are basically looking for paintball with little structure and don’t like the idea of playing paintball to the beat of someone else’s drum.
What you will attract with professionalism and amenities are more families and women, which is a good thing.

Investing in fields is a bit of a problem. You suggest that if an area has more fields (competition), then there is a drive to be better than the other guy. That is true. However, any area will only have a limited number of people who are going to take part in paintball, no matter how good the facilities are. Having more fields means having fewer customers and probably lower prices. That’s a bit of a conundrum. This ends up resulting in less income with more expenses. It’s hard to invest in better, when income is lower.

California has some pretty decent fields, but California also has less fields per capita than virtually every other state in the USA. This results in more customers per field, which results in more income which can then in part be invested in infrastructure.

Competition is good and necessary, but in my opinion, most (not all) places have too many fields already.

Old-in-402 said...

In an effort to be more clear, I'm not asking that there be more fields per capita, rather that those fields that are alone in a marketplace invest into a more professional product independent of competitive marketplace necessity. That is why I suggest some form of regulation or standard, force fields to offer some professional amenities even though the market may not demand that of them.

I think we may differ about the motivations of the rogue ballers. The downside of going rogue is, setting up fields, finding other players with equipment, coordinating the activity, and finding a lawful playing area. The upside's are playing your own game CTF, center flag, terminator, etc, cost, and marker functions.

My guess is that cost, by far, trumps the motivation of game style or marker function. That said if the rogue player could find other benefits for their expense, like running water, electricity, and professional staff, those benefits combined with the automatic benefits of having other players their without your coordination, available marker rentals, and a designed or somewhat already set up field then they could justify the cost. Without the 3 amenities that I spoke of earlier then the cost justification dwindles dramatically.

Further, I am grateful for the credit you give me about women and families but I don't think you realize the potential for those possibilities. A mother's approval can go a long way into the where the families recreational dollars are spent. Further, the idea that only so many people are going to play paintball is self defeating, the very idea of Baca's original post is to grow the participation.

Reiner Schafer said...

I wholeheartedly agree that fields should be as professional and offer great amenities, even if they are a stand alone field with no competition. That's just going to attract more players and any prudent field owner would do so. Unfortunately paintball fields for the most part have not been run by people who understand that and although that is improving, we have a long way to go, which I guess is what this conversation is about. I also totally understand the importance of a mother's approval (having had one myself and being married to one and dealing with mothers of potential customers on a daily basis).

I don't think understanding that there is a limit to paintball players is self defeating. On the other hand, thinking that the number of paintball players is limitless is, in my opinion, reckless. There comes a point where although more resources could be spent to attract a few more players, the return on investment ends up being very low. In a city with a population of 1 million people, you are not going to get 1 million people playing paintball. There are limits, just as there are limits with participation in any activity (eating and pooping may be an exception) :-)

As a field owner, the rogue paintballer (I tend to call them renegade) is not a market I am interested in chasing. I can provide a product that I feel is fun for the majority of the population and then hope that a great number show up to play. I know field owners who have put much effort in trying to attract the renegade players, only to end up throwing their hands in the air as that is a market that is very hard to please. Those groups tend to be made up of very independent people, often non conformists and anti-authoritarian. There is nothing wrong with that, but they just tend to not want much to do with commercial fields.

raehl said...

No matter what kind of restaurant you have, some people are always going to eat at home.

Anonymous said...

Be careful Baca,

They might just call you a drunken addict, an autistic, violently psychotic, American jihadist.

But then we could hang out! :D