Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Grow the Game

It would seem that the highest civic virtue, the purest aspiration in paintball today is an expressed desire to "grow the game." I don't know about the rest of you but I got into this game because my son thought it looked cool and wanted to play. Turns out it was fun and in its competitive formats kept track of the winners and losers. My focus ever since has been on having fun and competing. If that makes me a selfish bastard according to the mores of modern paintball so be it. Sure I'd like to see more people playing paintball (mostly because I think they would enjoy it) and I certainly support the advancement of competitive paintball as a recognized sport but .. I confess I strongly resist the urge to encourage anyone to "grow the game."
In part because it's a fatuous thing to say. Mostly because those who admonish the rest of us to "grow the game" haven't given it two seconds of actual thought. Which game is that? Is it the Mil-Sig game that relies on realistic looking guns, er, markers? Is that the sort of paintball you mean to promote? Or perhaps "grow the game" means you favor scenarios that are quasi-reenactments of modern battles like, oh I don't know, D-Day? Is the game you want to grow directly associated with war? (Personally I'm not a fan but have no issues with others enjoying their own brand of paintball entertainment. That said I think if those were the brands of paintball the public most often associated with paintball it could prove disastrous eventually.) Let's try something more innocuous. Perhaps you favor speedball. Or even tournament paintball. Or rec ball in the woods. Or pump only paintball. But your "grow the game" wishes (consciously or unconsciously) reflect your desire to see your preferred form of paintball prosper. Which is all well and good but it should also be apparent that paintball isn't a monolithic activity. It's a dozen or more different games and each has its advocates and detractors. And even if you insist you support all forms of paintball it's irrelevant. The "grow the game" mantra is paintball's version of self-indulgent groupthink; a feel good way to be engaged and be a part of paintball's caring community without actually doing a damned thing. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)
In planting season most farmers don't frequent pool halls, playing billiards, drinking beer and reminding each other to "grow the crop." (Think about that for a minute.)
If you really want to make a difference support the local stores and fields in your area that provide a positive safe paintball experience--and have fun.


Reiner Schafer said...

Couldn’t agree more Baca. The only people who are really making efforts to grow the sport are the business people who are in reality just trying to grow their businesses and they seem mostly to be trying to do that by diversifying the product to attract different demographics. ANY recreational activity will grow to the extent that people find value in it (fun or entertainment vs. cost). If the public needs to be pressured into taking part, then there is something wrong with the activity having good value. If it’s good value, people will choose to take part, especially in an activity that is known about by virtually everyone these days. Even those that have never played before know others that have. If the value was there, they will have heard about it, if it wasn’t there, they will have heard about that as well.

Nick Brockdorff said...

And yet, your very blog is often advocating things designed to "grow the game" - as for example PBA :)

Anonymous said...

Doesn't every pro team out there pretty much exist to grow the game? (and win...). Since every pro team operates at a financial loss, they definitely don't exist to make the owners or players money. So I guess yes they play to have fun and compete, but isn't a big part of their function also to grow/promote the game (signatures, promotional events, clinics, etc)?

Baca Loco said...

1023 Anon
Well you are certainly correct about losing money as teams but a handful of players are modestly enriched in the process.
In the present pro teams exist mostly to sell paintball stuff to existing players and gratify the ego of their owners. Pro teams also happen to represent the sport and that might matter one day. In the meantime they also represent the pinnacle of play which is motivational to some percentage of competitive players.
Otherwise ask yourself who is the audience for clinics, promotional events etc. and you will have answered your own question.