Monday, January 19, 2015

Where is the blasted sacrificial knife?

I want to expand upon something that I mentioned last August regarding the blog “Culture in Paintball”.  Several things have happened in this off season in particular that have made me want to touch back on this subject.  And no, it has nothing to do with the PSP’s new rules, etc.  Everybody and their mother has weighed in on that… no need for me to enter that arena as I seriously doubt, based on the lines drawn, there is any true winner in that debate.

Here is what I had mentioned about “rituals” in that previous blog:

“Rituals/Traditions. This is your paintball team’s identity or soul. These are what the team has in common.  It’s the glue that binds teammates together. Rituals and traditions can be the setting up and taking down of the field EVERY weekend, the meeting up at a favorite local restaurant after practice, the workouts, the drills, rites of passage for new members…(those can be interesting).  You get the picture.”

Mixing margaritas with the Ironmen’s Mike Paxson in 2008.  This became a “ritual” albeit a dangerous one…

Let’s face it.  We live in a world of modernism (is that a word?) where we are constantly bombarded with consumerism, the drive (or lack thereof) to challenge ourselves, the increasing divide among us due to different norms or the void of having shared values.   The question then becomes, with all these differences, how do we turn 8-10 guys into a team that won’t eventually self-implode?  How do we confront these vacancies among us and bring us back together?  How can we build a meaningful bond with our teammate that translates on and off the field?  How do we create that elusive true sense of the term, “Team”?

Why, rituals, of course.

Every culture throughout existence has engaged in rituals.  It would then hold that they are, in face, a fundamental part of the human condition. Rituals can change things, solve problems and accomplish things.  Through history we have used rituals to identify our “tribes”, to orient ourselves and differentiate between others.  A paintball team without rituals will, overtime, collapse upon itself because there is no means by which to identify it, nothing to be proud of, to achieve.  The team will be bored and will eventually cease to exist.   If it somehow manages to survive, you have a team of guideless zombies who have no life or pride anyway.  You know… democrats.

Okay, so what exactly is “ritual”?

Ritual can be defined as “Prescribed, established or ceremonial acts or features of a collective.”  Quite simply, a ritual is something a group of likeminded people do regularly for a specific purpose or reason.  Here is a good example: