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Is Paintball A Sport?

Posted on August 01 2020


 by Doug Lamont

Photographer: Dane Hawkins

Photographed: David "Crunch" Ulcine (foreground), Joel Baker (right), Doug Lamont (far right) and Keith White (left)


     Long debated and easily a barrier to paintball becoming a main stream sport is the very argument of whether or not paintball is a sport at all. Some people have the belief that in order for something to be a sport it needs to have a ball, but if that were the case then why do we have things like track and cross-country? For others the issue is that they don’t see paintball as competitive. This is likely due to the frequent depiction of birthday parties and corporate outings where people dress up in camouflage jumpsuits with cheap rental guns and masks that fog to go attempt pelting each other in the woods for fun. Having proper officiation is often something that gives legitimacy to athletic events and makes people feel more comfortable calling something a sport. Many people simply don’t know that there is a tournament side of paintball, complete with referees, scoreboards and the like. It’s also important to address the fact that competitive paintball exists almost exclusively in the form of tournaments. For some reason, this has served as a barrier to paintball being recognized as a sport in some cases as well. In the case of The Ohio State University paintball team, not long ago they tried to achieve competitive sport status, which grants more funding, with their club sports organization. One of the reasons they were denied is that the school said they are matches and games must consist of one on one settings with another team and that tournaments were not recognized as legitimate. Let’s investigate…

     By definition from, a sport is “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.” Paintball is competitive, requires skill and physical prowess and it is certainly athletic and requires athletic ability. So if it fits the definition of a sport, requires referees and has score boards, what more proof is needed?

      Objectivity is what takes an activity to the “sport” classification. Meaning, there is a clear and obvious winner in a competitive situation. Referees in paintball keep a close watch for bring yellow marks from paintballs to ensure fair play. If a player wins a point and has a hit on their body they weren’t aware of, the referees most often see it and direct the game accordingly. This may open the thought to some readers that if a referee doesn’t see a hit, or maybe isn’t sure, is it truly objective? Let’s observe what happened in the 2019 NFL season between the Saints and the Rams. A defensive player from the Rams shoved a receiver from the Saints in the back well before the ball was anywhere near catchable, much less in-hand. This should have been ruled a pass interference, yet no call was made. This drastically altered the end of the season for the Saints, and many go as far as to say they probably would have played in the Super Bowl that year. Yet, football is regarded as a sport, and is one of the most prominent sports in the modern world. Paintball is no less subject to instances of bias and mistakes than even the most common sports, and thus should be at least given the title of a “sport” in daily mention.

     The issue may be simply the perception. People see it as a recreational game or activity meant to simulate war. And at one point, that certainly was true! But the game has evolved into a mature, fast moving and intelligent game of chess. On the topic of tournament style events not qualifying as “sports”, the question then turns to whether or not soccer or tennis are sports. If tournaments take away legitimate sports status, then the world might have to reconsider how it classifies its most popular sport, soccer.

     Competitive paintball is a sport that requires time, dedication, training, athleticism and equipment. Dedicated players make sacrifices every day to stay at the top of their game and prioritize their craft. You can handle most of that on your own, and when it’s time to get new equipment or purchase your first-ever paintball setup, look no further than Punishers Paintball!  We have everything you will need to take on tournaments in the National Xball League (NXL)! Find us on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date on other products and blogs!


***Based out of Mansfield, Ohio, Punishers Paintball is dedicated to delivering premium products and even higher quality customer service, every time. Growing paintball is our mission and we take pride as ambassadors to the sport.***


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