A Reason to Cheer !!!!!

By Jason “foolybear” Lineberger

Over the past six years the paintball media landscape has shifted.  Not long ago the average player could walk into his local bookstore or even grocery store and buy 200 pages of articles, photos, and ads for the latest gear.  Players in the right markets could pick from half a dozen choices on the magazine rack.  Paintballers whose tournament experience culminated at three man pick-up games on pallet-and-barrel local speedball fields could immerse themselves in the national tournament scene, the teams, the standouts, the game-winners.

Fast forward to the present day when any paintballer with internet access can pull down massive amounts of high quality photos, video, and text from all corners of the Web.  It’s a media-rich environment, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a new positive for paintball.  For every slick clip of paintball action, there are ten poorly-written posts, five long unedited practice videos and a couple of hard-to-watch gun cam movies.  What the magazines offered was a curated experience.  The better magazines gave readers a balanced and insightful look into the current paintball scene.  They had tournament coverage, scenario write-ups, tips to improve one’s game, gear reviews, and commentary written by experts.  The editors who refused to shy away from long articles gave their writers the chance to develop a story, flesh out the characters, and hook their readers.  Boiling a tournament or scenario event down to 500 words (or less) might make for a quick read, but it’s not facts that spark the imagination or that develop loyalty, it’s people and their stories.

All one has to do is look at the meteoric rise of the UFC for proof.  They realize that they can pull in a small hardcore audience for any fight, but to really draw big numbers they have to tell a story and get their audience to care about at least one of the fighters.  That’s why, before every big event, they produce these sharp video bios of the competitors, so the viewers can see them as people.  That’s why they love it when fighters appear to have bad blood between them; it’s a story – the oldest story – anger or jealousy or bitter rivalry.  When there’s a fight between mismatched opponents, they hype the underdog’s chances, because everyone loves a Cinderella story.  The UFC knows what sells, and the fight itself is a relatively small part of the equation.

That bring me to ETV’s The Roster.  In 2004 I read every paintball magazine cover to cover.  I started playing tournaments.  I could name just about every rostered professional in the game.  By 2009, except for the few who had remained on teams, I could hardly name anyone.  As the magazines disappeared and article length shrank, I didn’t find the stories or the people to create any loyalty.  Patrick Spohrer’s films (of Monkey with a Gun fame) would have been just the right fix, but without the articles to make me want to learn more, I was reluctant to spend the cash on DVDs about a side of the sport that had lost my interest.  Enter the Artifact series.  Quality filming combined with a depth of story-telling and analysis drew me back into the tournament scene.  On the back of the Red Sunday series, I cheered for Omaha Vicious.  That spurred me to actually watch PSP tournaments, as they aired, live on Paintball Access.  And now, with the new season of The Roster, I’m catching the episodes on the day they’re released. The show gives me, a die-hard scenario player, a reason to watch tournament paintball.  I’ve learned the story of X-Factor, their players, their struggles.  I’m actually replaying games from 2013 because I have a reason to.  I’m hooked, and I want more.

Paintball needs new blood, and if tournament paintball is going to grow, it has to have fans. Paintball can pull an audience if people are drawn to the players and their stories, otherwise every match is just another fight, and only the hardcore fans (the players themselves) will watch.  So, do your part to build the sport.  Show someone The Roster.  Give them a reason to cheer.

 Click here to watch the Roster Season 2 for FREE NOW !!!


Season 3 Of the Roster... Coming Soon !