Photo Courtsey OSG Paintball & Tom Ryan
How often have you seen posted on one of the many forums, or heard people talking at your local field/shop, about paintball not being or being a legitimate sport. Every couple of months or so I see a new thread posted on TechPB about paintball in the X-Games or paintball in the Olympics. Even more recently though, paintball being respected as a legitimate sport, a mainstream sport. Lets take a little look at the level of respect in our sport, or hobby as I see it.
Female Paintballers. A rare and mythical creature, seldom seen, yet often talked about. Why is it that our sport is so male dominated? Well, I for one feel its based on multiple reasons. The first of which being the game play itself. You will get shot, densest matter if you are the worlds greatest player, its inevitable, you will be shot. Getting shot doesn’t hurt much, especially to a seasoned player, but to a first timer? Yeah it stings a bit. Before anyone goes to thinking I am saying that women cant handle it, they can, and I know a few female players that will put the boys to shame, time and time again. But the single biggest complaint I hear from prospective new female players is the pain, and the occasional “I dont want the paint to stain my clothes”. I am not here to tell you how to get a female to play, that’s up to you all, but, in the event you do, here is the second biggest deterrent I see. Respect, or lack there of. Abby wrote an article last week about female players, and the phrase “you just got beaten by a girl” really stuck out to me. Its this kind of respect that we as the majority in the sport don’t give to the fairer sex.
Respect to me is something that at a basic level is given, if you want others to respect you as a person, you must give respect in turn. Do not treat others like they are beneath you or a lesser person then you. But respect is also earned, on a much deeper level. Female players, form what I see, still don’t get the respect they deserve, and that’s whats chasing them away. Hey guys, you wonder why Paintball is so male dominated? Its because of you dumbasses chase away all the girls, by being dumbasses. If you are lucky enough to convince a girl to play, and she actually enjoys herself, then you must do what you can to keep her playing. That doesn’t mean cracking kitchen jokes, or telling her to go make you a sandwich, it means treating her like an equal both on and off the field. For her to want to continue playing, she must feel like she is accepted. I’ve heard before from an ex of mine that she felt like paintball was a “guys only club”, and that kinda pissed me off. She explained that it wasnt my fault, I had done the right thing to get her interested, but it was the people I played with that made her felt not welcome. When you hear guys in the pits ragging on a buddy about how he got shot out by a girl, and said girl hears it, it can make them feel like a lesser player. That is one of the biggest reasons I hear for girls not continuing to play.
The route cause of this disrespect is with us guys. And its not just directed at the female players. There is plenty of disrespect thrown towards other male players as well. I’ve heard it time and time again, “dude, you pay pump? You must suck”, or “dude, if you don’t wear/shoot __insert company name here__ you must really suck”. In a sport that’s been taking over by image these jackasses are usually drawn to the companies that represent everything that’s cool in the sport. I wrote an article a while back about agglettes and HK Army, and how the HK brand tends to attract a certain kind of player, what I called an agglette back in the day I now see called a try hard today. To be fair, they are just disrespectful asses. And its not the fault of the brand, its the people wearing the brand, and how they act towards everyone who doesn’t wear or shoot their brand. I see it all the time of the forums, someone starts spouting off about HK or DYE or PE or the Empire AXE or hating on the DP line of guns, and it does nothing but start a flame war. It happens at the field to, someone is all proud that they just got a brand new Etek or G4 or some Proto/Dye gun, and all of sudden someone form the peanut gallery comments on how shitty said gun is and how they should have gotten gun A, B or C. who cares what other people shoot or wear, I don’t, as long as the gear gets the person out on the field playing it makes no difference to me. If someone asks for my input on a gun I will be honest, but I wont knock them for buying what I consider a poorly made gun. Everything in paintball is personal preference. There is no best gun, best mask, best loader, best jersey, best pod pack, but there is whats best FOR YOU. Wear what you want, wear what fits you, and shoot whats comfortable to you, and don’t listen to what others have to say.
Speaking of the forums, as great as they are for keeping the national and international paintball community connected, I see a lot of problems started because of stuff said on the forums. I know for one there are companies I will never support because of the way their owners or representatives have acted on the forums, like Jack Rice of Alien and Chris Rheal of the APPA. They way these 2 people have interacted with people on the forum I frequent and work for has driven me away from ever supporting them. Same goes for Spurlock and Cole of Machine Paintball and Zodiak. Do they make a good product? Sure they do, but the fact that they aired their legal garbage on the forum in an immature way makes me never want to support then or their company. Paintball Forums have given companies a direct line to their consumers, and how they use that conduit will dictate how successful they are with sales of a new product. I’ve seen a couple times new companies post up a product in its prototype stage only to not release because they don’t listen to what the players want to see, and they loose support over it. Some company came to TechpB claiming to have a gun so fast that it was already banned in all tournaments. Now who the hell would want to buy a gun they couldn’t use in a tournament, and yet the gun is being marketed as a tournament gun. Makes no sense to me.
Ok, I know this article isn’t the most organized. Its more of a rant that just kinda spilled out on the screen. But the simple fact remains that unless we as players, both male and female, don’t start respecting each other on and off the field, our sport will never progress in the eyes of the public. We shall always remain nothing more then a bunch of war mongering wannabe GI Joes running around the woods playing soldier. If was to be able to compete with mainstream sports on a respect level, then we need to demand a higher level of respect for each then we are now. How can we be seen a mainstream profession sport when we don’t have womens professional teams? Whats preventing a top level female player from joining a team like the Ironmen or Infamous? Whats stopping an all womens team from entering the PSP or NPPL Pro division? We are. The attitude we have towards female players. Male ballers act like they are better, and that one simple phrase, “you got beaten by a girl”, says it all. Until the day comes when we can all just look at each other as fellow paintballers, we will never be equal in the eyes of the public with other main stream sports. We will never see paintball in the Olympics, we will never see paintball broadcast on ESPN, NESN, Fox or any other network; and the public will continue to view us a bunch of rednecks playing army in the woods.
Remember, respect is both given and earned, and to earn it, we must give it. So lets all do our part in progressing this sport beyond what it is and into what it can be.