The Spirit of Competition

Peter - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 18, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

All human beings feel the need to compete—the rush of excitement goes to the winner, while a bittersweet pang of loss vaults through the minds of his competition. From the intellectual to the physical, from racing to chess, even in simple desires to do better than the next guy in school or in work, we all attempt to compete on an almost daily basis.

I have never felt the true spirit of competition more than when I stand in a field, wearing heavy clothes in spite of the sweltering heat. I run sideways, sliding past sandbags and bales of hay while scarlet missiles slice the air just slightly above my head, covered as it is by a plastic apparatus designed to protect, but seemingly only serving to elevate the difficulty of breathing. My heart nearly always pounds just seconds into the first round, heightening to an insurmountable tempo as I peek from behind my protection—meager at best—to face my competitors with my own orbs of dyed vegetable oil, hoping to splash them before they manage to splash me. The sound of my heart and the sound of my mechanical hammer, powered by a cylinder on my hip, race while both my eyes and my barrel dart for the nearest, most recent movement with untiring speed and while my mask presses against the stock of my gun to ensure at least a small degree of accuracy. If I win in this seconds long contest of reflexes and skill, I move on to my next target and continue until I am hit or until the round is over. If I lose, I simply raise my marker, my arm, and my posture and get out of the arena to await the next round without even the slightest hard feelings against my opponent—he rightfully won, as evidenced by the splatter on my face, and I can only hope to best him next time we contest the same line of fire.

I believe in the spirit of competition, not only pertaining to the sport of paintball, but in all aspects of any game. I believe that competition should be driven by the desire to win, but that should not be its only goal. In all arenas, paintballing included, the more skilled of a particular match-up can be bested by chance; the luck of the draw can often weigh in the favor newcomer and result in an upset. I would wish that competitors who lose in a fair fight even because of the slightest twist of fate should not dwell on the loss. Instead, they should only strive to better themselves rather than bringing down their opponents and to protect against such windfall in the next game. Lastly, and most importantly, competition should be light hearted—the act of competing should be fun, not trying. I believe that people should compete, not for glory, but for entertainment.