Is Paintball a Sport or Hobby?

There is a constant debate that has been going on for years, is paintball a sport or a hobby?

Paintball itself is one of those few activities that is both considered a sport and a hobby to different people. There are organized paintball events and tournaments that allow teams to play competitively for ranking all over the world. On the other hand, there are facilities to allow players to play recreationally against other players purely for the thrill of the game.

This is the as other sports like rock climbing and trampolining where they are both considered a competitive sport and have facilities available purely for recreational enjoyment.

Paintball as a Hobby

For the majority of paintball participants, paintball is nothing more than a hobby that they enjoy on the weekends. They don’t want to have to deal with any of the politics or stresses involved in training, gearing up, and attending ranked events.

Instead, these paintball hobbyists enjoy playing at their own leisure and for the pure pleasure in participating in such a great game. It is not uncommon to see the same players on the field every weekend or every other month.

Instead on focusing on the competitive side of paintball, the typical hobbyist will focus on having fun, hanging out with their friends, and enjoying the experiences that only playing paintball can offer.

This allows players to experience many different ways to play paintball besides the typical tournament formats. They can play games where they have unlimited lives, escort missions, or even play large scale scenario events vs thousands of other players at once!

Paintball as a Sport

For some players, paintball is a highly competitive sport that they join a team and compete against other paintball players to see who is the best. These tournaments range from smaller local events to world wide events where the best teams in the world compete for the championship.

These paintball tournaments are usually separated into several divisions; D6, D5, D4, D3, D2, D1, Semi-Pro, and Pro. New players getting into the tournaments will usually start off in D6 and work their way up by attending and winning events in their area.

Tournament paintball players will also seek out sponsorships from fields, paintball companies, and/or local companies to help offset the costs of attending the events, training, and purchasing gear. There is usually a tradeoff in services and/or winnings to the sponsors to maintain this benefit.

Paintball is an Extreme Sport

Paintball is considered by most to be an extreme sport due to the sport requiring participants to experience high levels of physical and mental exertion in a fast paced action pact sport that may require the player to experience some discomfort or pain.

There are some that argue that paintball isn’t a true extreme sport due to there being teams and is sanctioned by colleges. Typical extreme sports are usually played by a single individual instead of teams and are typically judged on performance by a group of experts instead of earning points by eliminating players or hanging a flag.

For a sport to be considered an “extreme sport” it is usually required that the participants need to show skill and physical ability to avoid poor execution of the activity, while risking serious physical harm if they poorly execute the skills needed.

Tournament paintball has evolved to the point of easily being considered an extreme sport, mostly if considering the aggressive sliding, sprinting, jumping, bunkering, and carrying around specialized equipment that can cause damage if the proper safety precautions aren’t adhered to.

Will Paintball Make it to the Olympics?

A common debate among paintballers is if the sport and and should be in the Olympics.

While many feel like paintball would be a perfect candidate for the Olympic Sports due to it requiring discipline, having rules, and allows for competition. Others feel like the differences in league rules, gender participation, cheating, and if the sport will increase the “value and appeal” of the Olympic Games modern traditions.

Does Paintball Meet the Requirements as an Olympic Sport?

In order for a sport to be considered to be part of the Olympic Games, it must first be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). After it is recognized it is moved to the International Sports Federation (IF) status and the IF must apply for admittance showing that it is eligible as an Olympic Sport to the IOC.

After the IF has presented its petition for eligibility, the sport then has to align with all the rules and regulations outlined in the Olympic Charter and align with the fundamentals of Olympic values.

Some of the minimum requirements for an Olympic sport is for men to actively participate in at least 75 countries and on 4 continents, for women to actively participate in at least 40 countries and on 3 continents, and to increase the value and appeal of the Olympic games as a whole.

Would Paintball Be a Good Candidate for the Olympics?

Paintball as a whole is diverse and played in many different formats that can vastly differ from one another with rules, gear requirements, and most importantly widespread participation. This alone can cause its candidacy to be questioned.

While paintball is indeed a team sport that promotes unity and competition, there are so many other factors that can cause it to be rejected. Just a few examples of these are multiple game formats, players from other countries actively shooting at each other, cheating, gear dependence, and it being very hard to televise.

Regardless of how you look at it, no one will be able to confirm if paintball will ever reach the level of being an Olympic Sport. Things may change in the future, but only time will tell.


Florida based paintball player with 20 years of experience playing everything from recball to 24 hour scenario events.

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