Friday, January 9, 2015

One Undeniable Truth About Paintball

There's always somebody better than you. Even if your name is Ollie Lang. (It applies to more than just paintball too.) Maybe not better all the time but given the object of any competition is to win--and nobody always wins--on any given day there's somebody better than you. Even if you consider yourself a winner.
Now there are a lot of applications that can be drawn from that simple truth but I have a particular one in mind. Once upon a time in paintball's distant past--a dozen years ago or so--competitive paintball was easy to sort out. There was Pro, Amateur, Novice and eventually Rookie was added to the mix. At the national level the differentiations were mostly self-selected. There was always a team or two here and there that didn't belong but mostly because they weren't good enough, not because they were too good. And, surprisingly, it all worked out, by and large. The majority of national level competitors were there for the experience and to discover where they (currently) fit on the grandest stage in paintball. There were (a few) winners and there were (more) losers and everybody knew how that was gonna work before they got there.
The local level was sometimes, okay, oftentimes a different story. While national events were a big deal the locals tended to attract attendance with prizes. Although sometimes it wasn't even about the prizes. Sometimes it was just a matter of reputation and sometimes it was an issue of skill. With only four categories of player (or team status) it was possible to have some fairly wide swings of ability even within divisions--at least that was the claim. And when some sweet prizes were on the line, well, you can see where this was leading. Promoters would exclude some teams cus they were "too good" (meaning nobody else would show up) and the divisions were eventually divided further. Further divisions reduced the size and content of individual prize packages--and over time more than a few promoters, events and series disappeared.
Paintball now has a top down movement to systematize at least 8 player ranks and to what end? Fairness? (But what's fair?) To encourage participation? To make everybody a winner? Is it working?
I don't think so and in the next couple of posts [or at least soon] I'll get around to the whys and why nots.
In the meantime allow one undeniable truth of paintball to sink in: There is always somebody better than you.


Unknown said...

Sometimes that person, is you.

Ken said...

I have always played my best when I ignored that undeniable truth.