HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN RECREATIONAL TOURNAMENTS
Yeah, that's right, I used the "T" word. I know, I know, this is a RECREATIONAL site. Believe me, tournies have a place in recreational paintball. No, I haven't been out in the sun without a hat. Although I have taken a lot of head shots, lately . . .
I know recreational tournaments are fun. I've participated in a couple of recreational tournies. Try and set your prejudices aside for a moment (if I can, YOU can) and read on with an open mind.
Tournies are not a bad thing. They're just a different facet of the game of paintball as a whole. Now, I know that many tournies have had their problems, and that's for THEM to work out. It has nothing to do with rec-ball or rec-tournies. What I am talking about is the recreational or "for fun" tournaments.
You see, a rec-tourney serves many purposes. Firstly, it gives a chance for rec-ballers to experience friendly competition. Secondly, it gives serious tourney teams a place to let up-and-coming players to "get their feet wet" without risk of losing standings, sponsors or prestige. Thirdly, these same tourney teams can play in a rec-tourney, still compete against other teams and relax a bit. (This doesn't always happen, but I'll address how to solve this problem a little later on.)
THE PROPER ATTITUDE.
Seeing how this is a for fun event, that's what you should be doing: Having fun. It may be a tourney, but it's still RECREATIONAL. Don't lose sight of that.
My first piece of advice is to glue your "game face" inside of your mask. That way, when you take your goggles off in the staging area, you are once again a rec-baller. You are friendly, cordial and polite. You can stop strutting and being a "fierce warrior". During the game, you can be as fierce and aggressive as you want. Off the field, you should still maintain the proper rec-ball attitude.
The second thing is that NO TOURNAMENT is a place for politics, bad attitudes, fights and cheating. Least of all in a rec-tourney. Many rec-tournies have severe punishments for cheating. The idea is (and always should be) to have fun. Many rec-tournies will eject players, or entire teams for cheating.
The third thing is safety, which technically it is the MOST IMPORTANT thing. Rec-tournies will also have barrel plug, goggle and chrono penalties strictly enforced. If have seen teams drop from first place to third because of a hot gun coming off the field.
ON THE FIELD.
As I said before, you are there to compete against other teams. You should want to win, but your main priorities should be safety, sportsmanship and fun. Be aggressive, stay in their face, push them back to the tape and max them. Just don't let it go to your head.
Remember that the officials are only human, and they make mistakes. They may have made a bad call. That bad call may have made you lose the game. It may have kicked you out of the "finals". It may have even lost you first place. However, take some time and think about it. Does is really matter if you win? If it does matter, perhaps you were in the wrong tourney. What it boils down to is this: That you should have the satisfaction that you played a clean game, you did everything right, and you had FUN. Try to look past the mistakes that are bound to be made.
No event is perfect, things will happen that are completely out of your control. Accept it. What did you lose, really? Just a game. You're not an NPPL or GWS team. Your reputation or sponsors were not at stake. So what did you lose?
I can't say this enough: It's STILL recreational level play. We're having fun here, remember?
OFF THE FIELD.
After the game, win, lose or draw, shake hands. Walk around and talk to the other teams. Look at their gear and stuff. Ask them how they are doing. If they start talking points and standings, that's when you say, "Yeah, but are you having fun?" This is also a great place to look at new the markers that have just hit the market.
"PROFESSIONAL" LEVEL TEAMS.
(I put professional in quotes because what one league sees as professional is not what another league sees as professional. I use the term pro-team to refer to a team who participates in serious competition on a regular basis.)
Pro-teams will sometimes play in a rec-tourney. This is fine. It takes the pressure off of them. Hey, they like to have fun, too. If you are a member of one of those teams, remember this: it is a RECREATIONAL event. It has a TOTALLY DIFFERENT attitude than what you are used to. Many opposing teams have been cobbled together at the last minute. Many teams aren't very good. Many teams just don't have what it takes to win. All of this doesn't matter in the slightest to them.
What DOES matter is being humiliated by a pro-team and then having their noses rubbed in it.
I have heard of high-level professional teams actually coaching amateur teams during NPPL and other professional events. They have the benefit of wisdom and experience, and they want to pass it on to other teams. THIS is what you should be doing in a rec-tourney. Give friendly advice. If you do trounce somebody KINDLY tell them what they may have done wrong. Let them know that if they have any questions that they can come and ask you and you will help them.
This is the BEST award you can get at a rec-tourney. Any team that gets the Sportsmanship trophy has achieved what the rec-tourney was all about to begin with. As far as I'm concerned, this is a first place trophy.
You should "go for" the sportsmanship trophy like other teams "go for" first place. It should be a matter of honour for you. Sportsmanship is as ESSENTIAL in a rec-tourney as it is essential in any other rec-play day.
WHY I LIKE RECREATIONAL TOURNAMENTS.
I play in the rec-tourney at Big Game because it's FUN. It's not a perfect event, but every event has its problems. The staff runs a good field and they should be proud of hosting such a fine event. Most everyone I talked to had fun.
One of the owners of Paintball Long Island/Cousin's Paintball (the folks who run Big Game East) was beaming with pride. His exact quote was: "The World's Most Famous RECREATIONAL Player plays in MY tournament." He saw my participation in his event as the ultimate compliment to the event.
Personally, I think that anyone who puts me on some kind of pedestal is a bit delusional, but I'll take the compliment when I can get it.