Courtesy DangerMan's Lair | Digital Paintball Magazine
The Impact Coronavirus Is Having On Paintball in 2020
DM — Social distancing? Not in paintball! Paintball is a sport that draws large groups of people together. Paintballers from every category are taking a protective stance towards the game. As it concerns the coronavirus, we found paintballers are well informed. Here in mid-March 2020, a unified voice of Let the games go on exists everywhere. That could change.
No important fact remains unknown to paintballers. Even one that gives every paintballer pause, coronavirus can survive in the air for hours. Furthermore, covid-19 can survive on plastic for up to three days. With this information, the question we sought to answer was:
Will you be safe playing paintball during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020?
We spoke to notable paintball players and field owners on this issue. The tone was consistent. While not every market is facing the same challenge, everyone has a safety-first, sober approach without going to extremes.
Professional Paintball Player Reactions to the Coronavirus
The good news is paintball player reaction seems consistent. From field owners, woodsballers to professional speedball players, no one is over-reacting. Here is how Covid-19 has affected players and folks in the business. Some have adapted with changes we can all learn from.
Houston Heat | Ronnie Dizon
Destiny Paintball Team Owner | Bea Youngs-Paxon
Bea travels the U.S. with the Destiny Paintball team and acutely aware of how travel plays a part in the virus transmission. Her concerns hit home, literally. She’s reticent to travel over bringing home the virus to family members in the age groups most susceptible to the virus. “I may not travel because of my child and my elders that live in our household.”
Yet, if Bea doesn’t travel, it can have adverse negative effects on business. “If I decide not to travel, it could have an impact on other people’s decision to travel to events that Destiny usually attends.”
L.A. Ironmen | Nick Slowiak
Nick Slowiak is a professional paintball player. recently taken up residence with Dye’s L.A. Ironmen. Traveling to face off against the world’s best speedball teams is a hard enough grind without having to cope with all the trouble the coronavirus causes — even without catching the virus.
Like others, Nick was all over this subject matter and well informed.
On Safety: “Safety-wise all I’ve done is wash my hands a little more regularly and make sure I have the proper tools to keep myself, family, and home clean and disinfected.”
On the coronavirus hurting paintball in 2020? “It already has. With State, local, and Federal governments around the world restricting gatherings, national and regional paintball events/series are going to be impacted. In terms of recreational play, I fully believe it’s completely safe but the news/media will lead people to think just going outside is unsafe.”
On personal plans for 2020: “As of right now there has been very little impact on my personal life with the outbreak. In terms of work, it probably means shortages on things, canceled events, and less trips.”
Promotional Athlete | Wolf
Similar to Bea, Wolf, travels the US and world as a scenario paintball player. His worldwide demand to participate in major woodsball scenario events often draw thousands of players. If anyone has a concern about large crowds and Covid-19, you can add Wolf to the list. He too is a parent with family concerns.
Here is what Wolf had to say about the Wuhan pandemic. “I haven’t altered any plans as of yet, but being in Canada and most of my events are in the States it might be tricky, seeing as international travel is always in question, but still too early to see, so far no games have canceled but with so many sports events canceling it’s difficult to judge what might happen.”
What about the impact Covid-19 is has on Wolf’s personal life of paintball locally? He continued. “I have decreased my social interactions, my kids are home from school, and I have a lot of resources in my home to decrease dependency on outside help. The woods Paintball Demographic is not like a regular sports crowd, They are extremely resilient, used to extreme conditions, and half of them already have the prepper mentality, so it will be interesting to see what happens, I pray for fields and producers that all goes well.”
There is no doubt, Wolf walks the talk of his positive energy in paintball.
Paintball Field Owner Reactions to The Coronavirus
Wolf was right, we should all be concerned for the field owners and support them now more than ever. Paintball field owners are on the front lines of safety. The coronavirus is a threat to their survival.
They have the most skin in the game. Operations such as Boston Paintball are out in front of the issue with Guest Safety statements pointing out safety measures such as staff wearing gloves, hand-washing and equipment cleaning for customer peace-of-mind.
Cousins Paintball | New York
Paul Sattler, COO of Cousins Paintball has the largest body of people to care for. Why? Cousins Paintball is just outside of metropolitan New York City where the coronavirus currently has the most pronounced impact on paintball.
At the onset of this outbreak in March of 2020, Paul states, “Most people that we speak to are not worried. From our perspective, we are not being really affected except for larger organizations like schools that are succumbing to policies that are smart for them. Those are the only cancellations we’ve received so far.”
Paul shared the number one question people ask when they call the paintball park.
How does Cousins Paintball disinfect?
Paul explains Cousins’ proactive approach, “We use the best chemicals on a normal basis, but we also implemented additional policies. We do a mandatory wipe down three times a day. We also do table-side check-ins where people have their own areas and most people are very very comfortable with that.”
When asked what effect Covid-19 is having on the business, Paul answered, “Governor Cuomo just put up a mandatory no event larger than 500 people. That doesn’t make much sense since it excludes subways and schools that draw more than 500 people. I think in the next two weeks will tell us a lot.
TopGun Paintball | New Jersey
Owner, Carl Atkins of TopGun Paintball in Jackson New Jersey, has little to adapt to operate safely during the virus outbreak. “We are proceeding business as usual. We have always cleaned our rental equipment with the same standards as the restaurant industry and will continue to do so. We clean our counters every day. As far as how it will affect us, I can not say. As everything happens we will adjust to what is needed to give the customers a fun and safe day of play.”
Editorial note: We’ve played at TopGun paintball many times over the years. We’ve witnessed Carl and his team at TopGun performing a superior job keeping safety front and center yet hidden from direct view. The behind the scenes work they put into safety and clean up sets TopGun apart. Even without a flu outbreak, TopGun is very very health and safety-oriented.
How Woodsball Players From Around The U.S. Are Adapting to the Covid-19 Outbreak
A common thread exists with all paintballers. Mock the over-reactionary press and political figures, use common sense, and keep playing paintball. No one is taking it lightly, however younger players are deftly aware they are almost immune. Almost.
We don’t know if the Wuhan virus will peter out or spiral out of control. For now, regular woodsball and speedball players have been impacted at various levels.
Richard Carter | Dallas, Texas
Texas-based Richard Carter had this to say when asked about how his daily life is affected by the virus. “I live in Dallas. Everything seems fairly normal but people are talking about the coronavirus. My work put out extra sanitizer and soap in all the restrooms. For the most part business as usual.”
Then there is paintball. “There were plenty of people at the field but that was last weekend. In two weeks Official Paintball Games is having a Blackhawk Down game. I will be the commander of the Somalis side. Hopefully, we have a solid turn out.”
Greggory McCort | Baltimore, Maryland
It’s clear the paintball community is well informed. Greggory McCort plays for team Defiant out of Pasadena Maryland. Greg fits into the age group that seems unaffected by the virus.
His response is typical of his age group which is a what’s the fuss about? Greg’s learned how to manage his health and safety from news reports and considers himself safer than others. “As a healthy, 20s age person, I feel no threat from the virus and will continue to play. It will keep the stupid people home from the field.”
The impact of cancellations by both events and players is fluid. One day it seems this may all be coming to an end soon, and the next everyone is reacting to reactions. It appears everyone wants to face this down but accepts bans and states of emergency leave players no choice.
Dan Andreko | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Dan Andreko of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania manages the scenario team (Dúnedain). Dan is also active on YouTube. Dan’s a paintball referee and plays with his best friend (Adriana) and wife (Adriana again!) at scenario games all year round. They’re a great pair and represent what paintball family is all about.
Dan reports a minor impact has definitely occurred. “For us, there has been no direct effect yet. Lots of talk about potential cancellations but nothing official. I do see plenty of people commenting that they won’t be attending Stalingrad at Skirmish (our first 2020 event) because of it though.”
Killian Le | Baltimore, Maryland
Another YouTube personality is Killian Le (Save the Paint). He travels a lot for paintball, and some of it includes flying. Killian sees a silver lining to the outbreak. Everything is cheaper, including costs associated with paintball. “Currently it is helping! Flights are averaging 100-200 cheaper. Estimated traffic conditions should clear up more due to no one wanting to go out.”
Actually, he’s right. IF this blows over fast. If this is short term, it’s been a great time to buy stocks and plane tickets. Just not toilet paper.
What’s the bottom line for Killian Le? Well, he’s another player under age thirty. He too feels no downside and has a glass-half-full viewpoint. “I get to travel to more fields and play more ball.”
So Far, Only Restrictions Are Impacting Paintball
Most paintball parks are operating without outside forces restricting game-play and events. Some bans are creating game delays or changes.
The Fall of Berlin is one event requiring changes. It is hosted by White River Paintball in Indiana. Their annual scenario event draws hundreds of players on game day. That’s a problem. The Governor of Indiana has mandated no events may draw over 250 people. This caused the game producers to contact a large contingent of players planning to attend and ask them to reschedule another time. The National Guard was planning to play in the Fall of Berlin and in effect will miss the game along with walk-on players. The silver lining is the game is not yet canceled.
The Bottom Line
Paintball players are too smart for this $#!+ and have tossed around countless memes proclaiming they are not going to just give in to staying off the field. Paintballers from all sides pride themselves on not being lead around by alarmist media reports.
It’s obvious from online conversations, they have the gumption to realize the coronavirus pandemic comes with important changes in safety. Both field owners and players know their part in how to continue on with playing paintball during the Wuhan virus outbreak.
With this evolving threat, paintballers expressly agree this may get worse and the simple precautions taken now would be tossed out in weeks-to-come (perhaps even days). At present, paintball players are ready to go play and support the field owners and industry because they’re acutely aware of how important it is to support this already fragile industry.
If the covid-19 pandemic begins to hit more people randomly in the U.S. even paintball players will opt to stay home to avoid the risk. Well, that is unless you’re an under thirty crowd like Greggory or Killian. They’ll find out though that without an adult staff member to open up the paintball park, their optimistic attitude, and bulletproof health won’t quite be enough.
Let us all hope this ends soon. Of course, life changed in the U.S. after 911 too. Soon we will know.