My Views On Paintball
Our society may be worried about paintball's image. But the fact is that paintball is a growing sport and our kids have expressed an interest in the growing game of paintball, now there are two things that I think society sees that works against the sport:
1. We carry "guns"; and
2. We "shoot" each other.
On the surface, without further being educated on the sport of paintball, anyone would NATURALLY see paintball as teaching the wrong values to young people. However, in my opinion, paintball actually teaches kids some very important "life skills" and the following are my views.
First and foremost paintball teaches safety. All players that want to play MUST wear their goggles and they MUST use barrel plugs. All first time players are shown in a safety briefing on how to use and treat the paintball marker with respect. They learn that safety is important, not just to protect themselves, but to protect others.
Now after the safety briefing if you make a mistake, you and you alone have to realize that it was nobody's fault but your own and have to accept the fact you might be kicked off the field. Now as a player on the field you learn that what you do, or do NOT do can have an effect on the outcome of the game.
As it is in our nature we are reluctant to ask anyone for help, be it from pride, stubbornness or lack of knowing when to ask for help. No one knows everything, and the sooner they realize they just may have to rely on someone else's help, the better. They will also learn that their help may be much needed as well. Learning to work as part of a team and contributing to a single objective is an essential "life skill".
This is not the same thing as team work. I am referring to a one-on-one situation where two players are working as a small team. You may not have an entire group to depend on, and being able to work with an individual who you do not know, is essential. Everyone is different and they have their own way of doing things. How you work with each individual, and contribute to the task at hand, changes with each different individual you work with.
Often players, through no fault of their own, will wind up by themselves. It takes a lot of courage not to just hide behind a bush, where it's safe. (I've been tempted many times, in this situation.) No one really likes to be alone. Learning to apply your self, without the help of others, is a good character builder. There won't always be people around to help you.
This was something I did not seem to have when I was a teenager. I could do anything, and I knew everything. Being an "adult" I realize that I do have limitations (and many more than I care to admit to). You can only run so fast, the fields are only so large and you can only carry so much paint and air. Paintball sets up limitations (whether intentionally or incidentally) and forces players to work with reasonable and realistic limitations.
There are safety rules, field rules and game rules. In order to be permitted to play, you must abide by them. Cheaters are not well liked in this sport and they are quickly ostracized.
Your hard work is sometimes rewarded by a victory. A successful flag capture thrills even the most seasoned paintball player. There are few feelings that match it.
Sometimes, hard work will result in attaining no rewards. In paintball, you can do everything right and still not win. Paintball teaches the "there's always another game" mentality. If you lost the last game, you'll have a chance to win in the next one. You won't always be successful, but you will learn to treat a loss as a learning experience, not as failure and be a good sport about it.
Every time the whistle blows and the game starts there will be a COMPLETELY new set of circumstances to deal with. Paintball teaches you how to rectify situations that may not start in your favor. You think and act in such a way as to be successful (hopefully).Rash, thoughtless actions are met with a brightly colored mark on your body. Sometimes, taking a chance is worth the risk, but you usually can weigh the pros and cons before you take that chance.
I think paintball is the perfect arena to teach people when it is time to think and when to take a calculated risk. If you make the wrong decision, the only thing that gets hurt is your pride.
Learning to shoot a paintball marker requires the development of good hand-eye co-ordination. Yes, video games teach this too, but at least in paintball, you are interacting with REAL people.
We might not look or act the same, but no one has an advantage over another because of it. No one race, gender, age, occupation, or political or religious persuasion is better at this than any other. Paintballs are non-discriminatory and they break on anybody, regardless of race, creed or culture. Tells you something about life, doesn't it?
Treat field staff with respect, referees must enforce safety and playing rules. Argue with them and you won't get to play. You have to listen to what they tell you, they are there to ensure that everyone has a good, safe day. It's nice to hear kids saying things like "yes sir" and "Mr. Referee" it puts a smile on my face.
Iím a parent as many of you here are. As parents we want our kids to learn the lessons of life, without getting hurt in the process. What parent doesn't? However, it's not very realistic, is it? Well, I think it is, and I believe paintball is the medium for it. Is there anything I've covered that you DON'T want your children to learn? These are all the qualities everyone should have.
Believe me, there are worse things for kids to do. Given a choice between the two, I'd rather have my daughter buying paintball markers and paintballs than pistols and crack. Paintball doesn't sound too bad, does it? Is it better to hang out at the mall, or play a fun day of paintball? (They'll be supervised at the field.) They're not allowed to be intoxicated when they play paintball. They won't be influenced by "less-than-desirable" elements of society. (That is if you exclude the fact that they'll see some player with a really cool paintball marker, and they want one, too. Sorry, can't help you there.)
In playing paintball they will learn all the important lessons they need to carry with them for the rest of their lives, without getting physically or emotionally scarred for life. The best part is, they don't even KNOW they're learning it! So when they ask if they can play paintball, say they can. Don't you just love getting one past the kids, every now and then?