I can see I've got my work cut out for me on this one. It seems many of you have a difficult time even conceiving of rules and regulations as anything other than 'Crime & Punishment' writ small. And, as I've suggested already that's the first hurdle that must be overcome in order to rationally evaluate alternative ideas. That said, I appreciate all the efforts made in the related comments and I would encourage more of you to participate. Having an opinion isn't about being right or wrong but the more of y'all that contribute with more thoughts and ideas tossed into the mix the better.
Before I start offering rule change suggestions--that means at least one more Hammer Time is still to come--I'ma take a stab at the setting the table for the rest of you one more time. Before we even talk penalties let's look at the game for a minute. In its favor its a simple game. After dealing with basic safety, equipment, field dimensions and format pretty much all that's left is shoot people and don't get shot. Don't get me wrong, all those other elements that require some sorta rule or regulation aren't unimportant or a walk in the park to construct coherently--but they also mostly don't directly impact play of the game. Yes, there are some exceptions like gun rules regarding ROF and velocity but those can routinely be enforced.
Even so, the majority of penalties that attract attention and have the most impact are play of the game penalties related to being shot and eliminated. Even this wouldn't be a significant issue except flying paintballs don't always break. Which means that not every paintball that hits a player is necessarily a cause for elimination. Some bounce, some break. This is the source of most of the difficulties. This, and insufficiently well trained officials who fail to operate as a team at least as effectively as the players competing. I'm not, btw, slamming the refs. They can't do what they haven't been trained to do and we won't see consistency in the calls until all the refs on a given field are on the same page and oversight of officials is predicated on a philosophy of officiating. All things considered the Champions field refs are pretty decent but they won't get better and officiating in general won't get better just because we want it to. It will only happen when the league decides on a direction and begins to make the necessary effort.
Let's look at one scenario that is repeated dozens of times a tournament; bunkering a player in the snake, either down the wire or highway. The common result is both players are eliminated. Sometimes one of the players also receives a penalty. Now we have a problem. The standard response is that it all happens so fast--and left unsaid is that it happens so fast we can't be expected to get it right--but when you start tossing yellow and red flags into that situation as often as not it simply compounds the unfairness instead of fixing any intentional rule breaking. Does throwing a flag then serve the intended purpose of maintaining game balance--or even punishing violators? I don't think so. It does however generate uncertainty and frustration. So why do teams keep making those plays? Because whatever the refs do it is often a tactical necessity.
Forget about penalties for a minute. What's it gonna take to make the game, competitive paintball, a better game?