Paintball IS A Sport!
Paintball is a Sport!
And you Can't Change our Minds!
Yes, paintball is a game. In fact, the very first incarnation of paintball, as-created by a handful of amazing individuals in the New Hampshire woods in the early eighties, was called “The Survival Game.” However, the competitive nature of those individuals and those who quickly fell in love with the rapidly growing game and helped it grow and evolve into paintball as we now know it, quickly turned paintball into a true sport. Enjoyed by millions around the world, paintball is like nothing else in the world and as a sport, athletes compete at the highest levels to prove who the best paintball players and teams in the world are, and hoist gold trophies. Paintball has evolved to become an amazing, multifaceted sport with its own superstars, legendary teams, and our own World Cup – so yes – paintball is a sport and no, you can’t change my mind!
Paintball – as it first evolved into a sport beyond the basic game format – did so in the woods and teams armed with paintball pistols, 12 gram cartridges and cigar tubes of paintballs roved acres of woods in hour-long games at events like the Air Pistol Open and the earliest World Cups as promoted by Jerry Braun in New York. As paintball equipment changed and the game evolved along with it, fifteen and ten-man teams competed at events like the Masters promoted by Jim Lively and Sam Caldwell, and then in the early nineties the National Professional Paintball League was born. Teams like the legendary Ironmen, the All Americans and Aftershock battled with Bad Company and the Palm Beach Predators in ten-man competition on woodsball and, in Pittsburgh, mounds fields.
While paintball was already being played as a competitive sport throughout this time, paintball really started looking like a sport when the game moved out of the woods thanks to the creation of Speedball and the later creation of speedball-inspired formats like Hyperball and finally Sup’Air Ball. Teams and players who had already traded their faded woodland BDU’s for pajama-style camouflage pants and jerseys in Belgian camo, Realtree camouflage, Advantage camouflage and Tiger Stripe, could now wear brighter colors and team uniforms evolved to cargo pants and concept jerseys from legendary brands like JT Racing and Scott! By now teams and players were emerging as superstars of the game and major brands were capitalizing on this new-found paintball star power. As paintball guns transitioned from Automags and Autocockers to Angels, Shockers, Intimidators and the Matrix, players like Chris Lasoya, Rocky Cagnoni, Bob Long, Rich Telford, Rocky Knuth, Will Arroyo and Greg Hastings battled on teams like Ground Zero, the Ironmen, the Naughty Dogs, Avalanche and Image. It was during this time that Dynasty joined the pro paintball world and began their legendary run.
The creation and adoption of XBall and the rise of the National XBall League just after the turn of the millennium was where paintball took another massive step into the sporting world. In a format designed for an audience to more easily understand, and for cameras to more easily film, paintball went from ten-man competition for points to a five-on-five game played on the clock, with points scored by hanging the center flag before hitting the pits to wipe off and reload. After the success of the Nation’s Cup exhibition event, the NXL was built with franchises including Miami Effect, the Philadelphia Americans, the Red Legion, Detroit Thunder, the Oakland Assassins, Chicago Aftershock, and Baltimore Trauma. The next generation of paintball legends rose to greatness in this format, on this stage, and many of them continue to compete at the highest levels of paintball to this day and it was in this format that paintball found its ultimate expression as a sport that endures to the modern era.
Modern paintball – as a sport – draws many of its cues from the original X-Ball format and the current National XBall League is the world stage on which professional and international divisional paintball is played today. Paintball athletes push their bodies to, and often past, the limit in order to perform at the highest levels for their team and this requires both a strong body and a strong mind. Modern paintball athletes eat, train in the gym and hone their skills on the practice field, study field layouts scientifically looking for angles and avenues of attack, and their stats like eliminations are tracked in order to show the world just how amazing players at the top levels of paintball truly are. Modern professional paintball teams like San Diego Dynasty, Infamous, Houston Heat, Edmonton Impact, Columbus LVL and the Moscow Red Legion are managed like businesses, and many are actively intertwined in the business of their major sponsors, from marketing and product development to day-to-day operations!
Modern paintball is a sport. Player and team stats are tracked. Fans tune in to watch their favorite teams play. Top players and legends of the game endorse products, sign autographs and work hard to play their part inside and outside the net. Modern paintball athletes dedicate years of their lives to the game and spend their time in the gym to be better at their on-field positions, studying the game to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their equipment, which must be crafted to exacting standards in order to deliver pro-level performance. Valken loves the game of paintball, and Valken loves the SPORT of paintball as well! Paintball is a sport – you can’t change our minds.